Day of the Girl, Harassment, and Why it Hurts When the Men in Our Lives Support Trump

Me as a girl child. I can confirm that these remain my only three expressions: light disdain, having "fun," and terrifying joy.

Me as a girl child. I can confirm that these remain my only three expressions: light disdain, having "fun," and terrifying joy.

So, yesterday was International Day of the Girl Child. I actually started to write this post last night, but typed the title in, and got so exhausted with the world—that I promptly fell asleep.

Day of the Girl was enacted by the United Nations to celebrate and promote girls, but also to work towards ensuring that girls are given the protections and fundamental human rights that every person deserves. This is about healthcare. This is about education. This is about personal autonomy. This is about ending child marriage and ending female genital mutilation.

But, this is not simply about issues that happen “over there.” Because, sure, in the United States, girls are guaranteed equal access to K-12—but are they being supported and encouraged to pursue whatever academic path they choose? Child marriage is illegal in the United States—but are girls being adequately protected from abuse and harassment? Are girls being taught and supported and encouraged in their own personal autonomy? Is society proving to girls that they have control over their own bodies? Are the people in power ensuring that there are serious consequences to anyone who destroys personal autonomy through harassment and assault?

The answer is no.

Absolutely, some people are being held accountable. Absolutely, there are people who are teaching and encouraging girls. Absolutely, there are people who work to ensure the well-being and safety of girls.

But, not enough. Never enough.

As a society (and a world), we throw complex messages at girls from a very young age:

You have to protect yourself! Danger is everywhere!

You are weak! Your tears show that you cannot control yourself or your emotions!

You have to be pretty and feminine or no one else will want to be around you!

You can’t wear that! Boys/men might see you and they cannot control their thoughts or actions!

You have to have wear makeup, but not too much makeup—the right makeup, so it looks like you’re not wearing any makeup!

You can’t walk/visit/eat/dance/run/shop/sit/live/breathe in those places. They’re not safe for you, and if something happens—it will be your fault!

You have to remember that every single male is a threat!

You shouldn’t be such a bitch! He was trying to be funny!

You shouldn’t be so loud and bossy!

You talk too much!

You don’t get what you want, because you never ask for it!

You should smile more!

You shouldn’t have smiled so much—you were leading him on!

These are just a sampling of the messages that are explicitly and implicitly taught to girls from a very young age. I know that every woman I know could add another ten each off the top of their heads.

So this is the society we have created for girls and for those girls when they age into women. This society that constantly tells women to feel the threat, but also to take responsibility for any threat, but also they are too weak to protect themselves!

And in society, also live the boys and men (dealing with their own uniquely messed up gender standards).

As girls and women, we interact with and love many of these boys and men: they are fathers, brothers, grandfathers, uncles, friends, boyfriends, husbands, co-workers, teachers, pastors, etc, etc, fellow human beings.

Some of the men we interact with say and do terrible, destructive things to us.

Others, we love and respect.

(And, sometimes, we still love the men who say and do terrible, destructive things to us.)

It’s of those men we love and/or respect that I am writing about today.

Because many women are feeling betrayed right now, as many of the men in our lives are confirming what was always a nagging doubt in our minds: they don’t really care enough to try and understand you.

And, it’s all because of the man running as the Republican nominee for President of the United States—the most powerful elected position in the world—Donald Trump.

Why is the betrayal now, instead of years ago when Donald Trump first started spouting toxic nonsense?

I (and many others) have always been firmly horrified by Donald Trump. This post right here timelines some of his terrible statements and actions while campaigning (and it only goes up to February of this year). His words and actions have been and are hateful, and incite hatred. He has said and done horrible things to people based on race, religion, sexual orientation, physical ability, nationality, age, and, yes, gender. His ugly statements about and actions toward women have been a constant thread through his life and campaign.

But, the video released last weekend of Donald Trump bragging about committing sexual assault was somehow just too blatant to be ignored or explained away as “just words” (as his other toxic statements and actions have somehow and wrongfully have been explained away). This was something that must be confronted and denounced, correct?

I am going to post a transcript of the video. I am sorry to do this, especially as it is upsetting to read, but I have learned that many men have heard the explanations for why these words are “inappropriate” or “locker-room talk,” but not the actual words themselves.

Unknown: "She used to be great, she's still very beautiful."
Trump: "I moved on her actually. You know she was down on Palm Beach. I moved on her, and I failed. I'll admit it. I did try and fuck her, she was married."
Unknown: "That's huge news there."
Trump: "No, no, Nancy. No this was [inaudible] and I moved on her very heavily in fact I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said I'll show you where they have some nice furniture. I moved on her like a bitch. I couldn't get there and she was married. Then all-of-a-sudden I see her, she's now got the big phony tits and everything. She's totally changed her look."
Bush: "Your girl's hot as shit. In the purple."
Multiple voices: "Whoah. Yes. Whoah."
Bush: "Yes. The Donald has scored. Whoah my man."
Trump: "Look at you. You are a pussy."
Bush: "You gotta get the thumbs up."
Trump: "Maybe it's a different one."
Bush: "It better not be the publicist. No, it's, it's her."
Trump: "Yeah that's her with the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful... I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything."
Bush: "Whatever you want."
Trump: "Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything."

Bush: "Yeah those legs. All I can see is the legs."
Trump: "It looks good."
Bush: "Come on shorty."
Trump: "Oh nice legs huh."
Bush: "Get out of the way honey. Oh that's good legs. Go ahead."
Trump: "It's always good if you don't fall out of the bus. Like Ford, Gerald Ford, remember?"
[As Mr Trump attempts to leave the vehicle he struggles with the door]
Bush: "Down below, pull the handle."
[Mr Trump exits the bus and greets actress Arianne Zucker]
Trump: "Hello, how are you? Hi."
Zucker: "Hi Mr Trump. How are you?"
Trump: "Nice seeing you. Terrific. Terrific. You know Billy Bush?"
Bush: "Hello nice to see you. How are you doing Arianne?"
Zucker: "I'm doing very well thank you. [Addressing Trump] Are you ready to be a soap star?"
Trump: "We're ready. Let's go. Make me a soap star."
Bush: "How about a little hug for the Donald, he's just off the bus?"
Zucker: "Would you like a little hug darling?"
Trump: "Absolutely. Melania said this was okay."
Bush: "How about a little hug for the Bushy, I just got off the bus? Here we go, here we go. Excellent."
[Mr Bush gesticulates towards Ms Zucker as he turns to Mr Trump]
Bush: "Well you've got a good co-star here."
Trump: "Good. After you. Come on Billy, don't be shy."
Bush: "Soon as a beautiful woman shows up he just, he takes off. This always happens."
Trump: "Get over here, Billy."
Zucker: "I'm sorry, come here."
Bush: "Let the little guy in there. Come on."
Zucker: "Yeah, let the little guy in. How you feel now, better? I should actually be in the middle."
Bush: "It's hard to walk next to a guy like this."
Zucker: "Wait. Hold on."
[Ms Zucker changes position and walks between the two men]
Bush: "Yeah you get in the middle. There we go."
Trump: "Good. That's better."
Zucker: "This is much better."
Trump: "That's better."
Bush: "Now if you had to choose, honestly, between one of us. Me or the Donald, who would it be?"
Trump: "I don't know, that's tough competition."
Zucker: "That's some pressure right there."
Bush: "Seriously, you had to take one of us as a date."
Zucker: "I have to take the Fifth [Amendment of the US Constitution] on that one."
Bush: "Really?"
Zucker: "Yep. I'll take both."
[They reach the end of the corridor]
Trump: "Which way?"
Zucker: "Make a right. Here we go."
Bush: "Here he goes. I'm gonna leave you here. Give me my microphone."
Trump: "Okay. Okay. Oh, you're finished?"
Bush: "You're my man. Yeah."
Trump: "Oh. Good."

Awful, dehumanizing, ugly stuff, right? For women: too real, right?

And for women, this is too real. If it was just talk between two men: it would be sexist and dehumanizing and wrong. But, it doesn’t end as the misogynistic talk between two men. It is the experiences of women.

After this video was released on Friday night, Kelly Oxford, on Twitter, asked for women to tweet her their first assaults: for a day, she received over 50 responses a minute. By Monday, over 27 million had responded or visited her page.

That should horrify everyone.

Every person should realize that Donald Trump needs to have consequences for his abusive actions.

And when women saw the video, and were sad (and reminded of their own experiences) but not at all shocked that the video existed—men should have listened and responded.

Some did; many who already had seen the toxic nonsense coming from Trump had never supported him or accepted him or let him off the hook. And, they were quick to denounce this latest monstrosity. That’s good!

And, then, there were others who had stomached and tolerated Trump’s toxicity, but managed to denounce him now. That’s better than nothing. (Although, pro-tip: when speaking out against sexual assault, it is perfectly fine to refer to women as simply “somebody” without attributing their humanity to a man they are related to; i.e. somebody instead of somebody’s daughter, wife, sister, mother, second cousin twice-removed.)

And, then, there were still others—who continued to support or tolerate Trump or whatever.

These are the men I am writing about. These men who brush aside the experiences of the women they know and love. These men who twist and turn to justify supporting a man who admits to sexually assaulting women. These men who love and care about us, but not enough to listen.

Please, listen.

1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of rape in her lifetime.

1 out of every 3 American women report having been “been victims of a rape, beating or stalking, or a combination of assaults.”

I am pretty comfortable based on a survey of, oh, every single woman or teenage girl I have ever known, that every American female experiences sexual harassment at some point in her life (and to be real, it’s mostly all the time).

Donald Trump’s bragging about sexual assault while Billy Bush laughs and encourages it is what being a women in the United States is all about.  

And, so, to the men who love and care about me, please listen to my experiences:

{I want to make it clear that as a straight, white female who has lived most of her life in the “progressive” Pacific Northwest—my experiences are minimal in relation to my friends who are women of color or LGBTQ+ identifying or who live in a less so-called “progressive” place. I have also never been violently assaulted.}

Being female is:

Carrying a weapon with you everywhere you go (mace or a taser) since you were teenager. And when you realize that you don’t have your mace with you, but feel unsafe, you hold your keys in between your fingers and remind yourself to aim for the eyeballs.

Taking the public bus to school when you’re sixteen, and having an old man say, “Hey, schoolgirl, smile!” while he leers at you and you try very hard to ignore him and sink into your seat and maybe become invisible.

Walking down the street on the rich, old, white Kirkland waterfront in the middle of the day, and having two men sitting on the Starbucks patio with a dozen people around them call out asking you if your leggings are painted on, and telling you that they look good while they smirk.

Being poked with a pencil on the bus when you’re a teenager and looking back at the man who laughs and then pokes you again.

Going for a walk while chatting with your mother on the phone and over the course of the ~9 miles being cat-called/harassed/told to “come here” ten different times. And that’s not just ten different men, but ten different instances (some being groups of men).

Trying to pretend you can’t hear or see, and hope they don’t get angry.

Learning how, when you are cornered, to acknowledge the man enough so that he won’t get angry, but not enough that he will continue to try and talk to you or bother you.

Clutching your phone/mace/keys every time there is a man walking behind you at night.

Sharing your own personal self-defense and safety tips with your female friends while you laugh—even though no one thinks it’s funny.

Having men laugh at your experiences. Don’t you know that women in Saudi Arabia aren’t allowed to drive?

Responding to a male professor’s incredulous question of what kind of problems women at your university could possibly face by saying, “intellectual belittlement”—and having him laugh and say, “I meant real problems.”

Telling a different male professor that the textbooks are entirely exclusionary to women, and literally reference being for men only again and again—and then being told that I should “try and learn from a male perspective for once.”

Hearing multiple male professors say that they guess women just can’t see/understand/learn certain things the same way men do.

Remaining calm when several guys in your almost-entirely-male class laugh out loud when you ask the professor a question about how women were included historically in the particular topic of that day’s class.

Sitting in Sunday School as a child and being told that Eve ruined everything, Hagar was evil, Bathsheba seduced poor David, Martha was a haggard old maid, and every other woman in the Bible was either a "bad prostitute" or a mother of an important guy.  

Smiling awkwardly, because you don’t want to be rude, when a man asks you if you’re going to college to get your MRS degree.

Attempting to not look too obviously uncomfortable as men withhold payment for their coffee until you “smile for me, honey.”

Recoiling when strange men touch you in public, both “accidentally” and blatantly—too many to remember every individual experience.

Making spur-of-the-moment judgements about whether that man is dangerous or just trying to be friendly.

Experiencing living in another country, where even though your skin color and Americanness grants you a significant level of protection compared to women who are nationals, you are still sexually harassed every day—and even have a group of male “friends” of a friend joke to your face about buying you and maybe selling you too.

Tamping down your speech and couching it in “maybes” and “what do you thinks,” hoping to make your words as palatable and acceptable as possible.

Worrying that you will be thought of as too bossy and loud every time you express an opinion.

Failing, but not through lack of effort, to keep your tears inside when hit with deep stress, fear, or disappointment—and then hearing men say that they will talk to you when you are able to control yourself.

Shrinking to make yourself smaller--to take up less space; become invisible--on the streets and in public as strange men call you a bitch or worse for not interacting with them.

Crying as your friends share their stories of harassment, abuse, and assault.

Hoping that men will listen and care—but being disappointed too often.

Donald Trump not only doesn’t care about women—he is actively harming and abusing all women (and non-white men, LGBTQ+ men, immigrant/refugee men, men with disabilities, low-income men, non-“Christian” men).

He admitted to it himself. But, he didn’t apologize. It’s just talk, right? Why get upset?

He doesn’t understand.

Please, I want you, men who support Trump, to understand.

Somebody (‘s daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, friend, peer) is being hurt, and you aren’t listening.

 

My five-year-old niece is being raised by her awesome mother and awesome father to know that she has value and power exactly by being her: being strong, empathetic, smart, loving. She recently declared that she wants to be a “Preacher and a Scientist!”; she wants to save the trees; she wants to make sure people without homes have a place to live; she wants to study worms in a microscope; she wants to draw fairies; she wants to make sure all children have shoes and access to clean water; she wants to be an American Ninja Warrior; she wants to go the next class-group in ballet; she wants to be loved and heard.

She is going on to great things one way or the other, but wouldn’t it be better if she knew a society (and world) where the men in her life—relatives, friends, teachers, coworkers—helped make the society safer and better by listening and caring and doing something about it?