The thing about “groping”
I’ve had men grope me or attempt to grope from the age of nine on—all sorts of men, from strangers, to trusted male adults (camp director, camp counselor, and a few high school teachers), to my stepfather, to my boss who chased me around a desk (yep all those Doris Day memes were actually true), to purported “friends,” including a really “lovely” time of it when I was “roofied,” not to mention the low-life swine who lifted me off my feet in a strangle hold while telling me if I moved, I would die.
Most of the experiences happened between the ages of nine and twenty-five, but that’s not to say that I haven’t been on the receiving end of some pretty lewd and awful comments walking around in broad daylight, never mind in the evening, with the sense that if I were not in a constant state of readiness—bad stuff would happen. And frankly, if you ask me what the most dangerous thing in the world is, my answer is a group of rowdy men coming towards me—something I have literally experienced around the world as a sense of fear and foreboding in as varied places as the corner of 100th Street and Broadway in Manhattan, on a backstreet in Old San Juan, waiting at a ferry terminal in Sumatra, and on the beach at Eilat, Israel among other places.
What disgusts, saddens, and angers me about Donald Trump’s “groping” comments from the leaked 2005 Access Hollywood tape, is not the crudeness of his language, or his posturing swagger about how being a “star” means women will “let you…do anything,” but how he and Billy Bush, objectified the young woman, Arianne Zucker, waiting to escort Trump to his soap opera “gig.” In doing so, he gave the implication that he could assault her at will, and more so, Billy Bush, emboldened by the older Trump’s, explicit sexual discussion of trying to bed the married “Nancy,” put Arianne in Trump’s way by saying, “How about a little hug for the Donald? He just got off the bus.”
Unfortunately, it keeps with my life long wariness of rowdy “groups of men,” even if in this case it only took two—and imagine, if you will, that Arianne was escorting them into a darkened club and that they had all sat together at a table. Would they have both “stolen” kisses as if they were bashful little 12-year-old-boys with a first crush by their sides? Or would it have been more sinister, with a kiss and a grab at Arianne’s breast or vagina or backside? After all, Trump stated, “I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”
And Billy, a “host” on Access Hollywood—emboldened by the notion of not having to be bound by the norms of civil behavior, began to enact the notion that “stars” have no rules, what with his teacher, “the Donald” having given him permission through his pernicious example.
The point is sex and one’s desire for sex should never overwhelm one’s decorum. Moreover, as a way of life, it enables the worst in human behavior and most importantly swamps the right of the other person to be left alone, such that in the final analysis, it has nothing to do with sex—but is instead all about power.
By objectifying a woman as merely a set of body parts, Trump, devoid of human feeling or consideration, asserts power in the same way as any garden-variety sexual predator. And at the age of 70, this man, running for President of the United States, who has lived a lifetime enacting and reenacting such scenarios—along with the likely thousands of plastic boxes of Tic Tacs he’s purchased over the years—remains an accomplished masher, “fooling” women into giving “it up.” What is pathetic is that it is clearly not even for pleasure, but fuels a need to brag about it, such that even on a bus with a random group of men he happened to find himself with, he felt the need to discuss his sexual exploits, just as he felt quite compelled to discuss his penis size during one of the primary debates.
Talk about an “ew” moment … and what, no one figured out what a low life sleaze he was from hearing him talk about it on national television while running for the right to represent the party of Lincoln in a presidential race?
That my experiences, which were primarily in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s are still so much a normative “thing” in 2016 is a terrible and sad indictment on how our culture continues to essentially condone that kind of behavior. Is it any wonder that sex trafficking, child sexual abuse, and the assorted and related continuing prospect of sexual assault and rape are front and center, always, for women in America?