“Boys will be boys.”
“It’s just a phase.”
“He just can’t help himself.”
“It’s just locker-room talk.”
On Oct. 7, yet another lewd video of hopeful presidential nominee Donald Trump was leaked. This video captured Trump making sexually aggressive comments toward women.
“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.” He added: “Grab them by the p****. You can do anything.”
As expected, immediate uproar has followed in response to the videos. Our Facebook timelines are rife with angry responses for Trump. Our Twitter feeds are crawling with combative reactions. Politicians are revoking their endorsements and many supporters are swiftly jumping ship.
America is outraged over Mr. Trump’s derogatory comments that blatantly describe sexual assault. The public is astonished. The media is appalled. But not many are addressing the direct issue. We all know a Donald Trump. These words aren’t foreign to any of us women, nor men.
In the wake of Trump’s comments being released, I spent a lot of time reflecting. I thought about my childhood and lessons I was taught by my parents. I recall from a young age that I was always indirectly being taught how “not to get raped” without even really realizing it. I was always encouraged to dress modestly, because that would be the “lady-like” thing to do. I mean, in high school I wasn’t even allowed to wear spaghetti straps, because God forbid my male classmates get distracted by my shoulders. I was encouraged to not “drink too much” at parties based on an inherent fear that someone might put something in my drink. And when I was dropped off at college, one of my mom’s biggest worries would be that I would go out alone without using the buddy system.
I thought about these lessons and remembered that all my closest girlfriends were taught similar practices by their parents. But one thing I don’t recall is the boys around me being taught how “not to rape” or the importance of consent. And this made me think that maybe Trump isn’t so different from the men we all know.
I believe Washington Post journalist Shaun Harper said it best: “I know Donald Trump. Though we have never met, I know him well. At several moments throughout the campaign, I have felt that something about Trump was disturbingly familiar, but I couldn’t quite pinpoint it. After seeing the video of this presidential candidate and married man talking about kissing women, grabbing their vaginas and using his celebrity to get them to do whatever he wants, I now fully recognize the guy I have known since I was a teenage boy. The Trump on that video is a sexist, misogynistic, womanizing cheater who degrades and sometimes sexually assaults women. I know this man and so many like him. I wish I didn’t, yet I do, and I have for a long time.”
You see, when Mr. Trump was forced to respond to these vulgar comments he apologized and deemed his remarks “locker-room banter.” He is using the same excuse our society is so used to using. When saying things like “boys will be boys” and “locker-room banter,” you stop holding men accountable for their actions and begin to normalize sexual aggression in our society.
Like journalist Harper, I too know a Donald Trump. He’s my first boyfriend that tried to pressure me into having sex when I wasn’t ready. He’s my middle school teacher that rubbed my lower back without my consent. He’s my softball coach that made one too many remarks that crossed the line. He’s the same construction worker that catcalls me every day when I walk to my car from class. He’s my old manager who used his position of power to harass me.
These words aren’t foreign to any of us.
So yes, of course I don’t want a misogynistic maniac like Donald Trump to be president. I can’t imagine growing up and having a daughter in this world where a man that openly makes such chauvinist comments is the leader of the free world. But more importantly, we need to stop making excuses for the men in our lives.
No more “locker-room banter.” No more “he can’t help himself.” No more “boys will be boys.”
Ali Schutz studies journalism. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.