It has long been clear that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is sexist and holds demeaning views of women. His bragging about sexually assaulting women, caught on tape in 2005 as he traveled on a bus to an appearance on “Days of Our Lives,” takes his misogyny to a new, unacceptable level.
Trump’s dismissal of his comments as “ locker room talk” during Sunday night’s presidential debate, during which he hulked behind Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton like a predator and taunted her with insults like a schoolyard bully, further highlight his warped view of women.
Republican men, including Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate, have condemned Trump’s comments as demeaning to their wives, daughters and mothers. They certainly are.
But Trump’s defense of his comments as “locker room talk” demeans men, too, as creatures who go through life viewing women — in Trump’s case, even his own daughter — as sex objects, evaluating their desirability by the size of their breasts and waists. Such a defense sends the message that bragging about sexual assault is standard male behavior. This crude caricature should offend decent men.
In the 2005 tape, Trump brags about being able to get away with sexual assault because he is famous. Sadly, he is right.
He is right because the man he brags to remains silent. Billy Bush’s behavior on the tape — he laughs at Trump’s comments, echoes them, condones them — is as vile as Trump’s. Bush has been suspended from the Today Show for his role in the 2005 incident; meanwhile, Trump continues to campaign for the presidency.
He’s right because our society allows judges to worry more about how jail will affect a star Stanford University swimmer or a male University of Colorado student than about how the rapes they committed damaged the lives of their victims.
He’s right because we let defense attorneys — and even judges — question what a rape victim was wearing or how many drinks she had. And we let a judge apply a more lenient sentence to a rapist because he was intoxicated and because he spoke of raising awareness among college students of the dangers of “excessive drinking and promiscuous sex.”
They get away with it because we allow schools to send home girls who are dressed “inappropriately,” sending the message that girls are sex objects to be covered up because boys can’t — or shouldn’t learn how to — control their impulses.
Fortunately, there are men who are speaking out. “According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and the CDC, one in five women will be raped at some point in their lives,” Matt Jacobson, a Republican candidate for governor in 2010 wrote in a Facebook post this weekend.
“You have to ask yourself why. Why, in this country, does this level of sexual violence exist? It exists because we tolerate it,” his post continued. “It exists because we excuse the behavior. It exists because we accept an environment where men like Donald Trump can think of women the way he does, say what he does and then excuse it as ‘locker room banter.’ Make no mistake — the acts he described are assault. Nothing less.
“It has to stop … because we cannot tolerate this sort of environment.”
Trump’s repulsive view of women was revealed because he is running for president. There are many more men who think like Trump. Those who condemn Trump, especially men, can’t remain silent when their colleagues, friends or teammates say similar things, whether in a locker room, boardroom or lunchroom.
There can be no safe spaces for men to boast or fantasize about sexual assault — much less commit it.