Monday, October 10, 2016

Trump and the Tragic Truth

With all the hubbub over Donald Trump's disgusting comments from whenever that was, I think it unfortunate that we are largely overlooking the elephant (perhaps the pig?) in the room. That is not that his comments were crude and inappropriate. That is given.
It is that much of what he said is true. Despite all our progress as a society, it remains that rich and powerful men believe that they can get away with whatever they want to with women, and with many women, they are absolutely correct. The difference between many corporate chiefs, Hollywood moguls and politically powerful men in the west, and Saddam Hussein and his sons, is that Saddam and his animal boys used force.
Look at JFK, credibly reported to have raped interns in the White House. Look at Mao Tse-Tung, who felt that giving young women his syphilis was a badge of honor. Look at Bill Cosby, whose victims took years to come forward. And of course, Bill Clinton. Look at the casting couch, the corporate office, the women offered as favors to business travelers as if they were drinks or hors d'oeuvres or Disneyland tickets.
It is not just Democrats, not just Republicans, not just Americans or Englishmen or Japanese or whoever, but rich and powerful men in every culture who believe that their wealth and position places them above the norms of decent society and above any accountability, and they are too often correct. It is that they believe that women are toys for their pleasure instead of their sisters, their daughters, their equals.
And, equally tragic, women are still too often taught (by culture and experience) that they dare not challenge the rich and powerful. Many are also taught, again by culture and experience, that they can use their sexuality to get what they want from the rich and powerful. They can get that chance at stardom, that coveted position, that Mercedes. The only price: their self-respect.
Until and unless men of every age and social stratum understand that they are not above the law, until women of every age are given voice when they report improper conduct (instead of being stifled and demonized) and until men and women of all ages recognize that women are not Kleenex, to be used and thrown away, and that they are not for sale at any price, we will be condemned to continue hearing such crude locker-room talk as Trump engaged in, and we will be worse condemned to admit that he spoke the harsh, disgusting truth.