Words can heal and they can kill. These days we are in a word storm.
It’s no secret that it’s becoming chic among Trump followers to suggest that pc culture is destroying America. They even say, “Donald Trump is no Boy Scout, but the women around him should know better; it’s men being men.” They argue that the kind of talk we heard on the video of Trump wanting to “f….” women, wanting to “kiss” them without consent, and wanting to “grab their p….” is just what men talk about “in the locker room.”
Trump’s words have brought back dark days from my young adulthood, when we were taught that women who complained about sexual advances by men were often said to have “wanted it in the first place.” “Boys are just being boys,” adults said, to quiet girls when they complained. In fact, many of us were told that this “rough” behavior is “what women wanted.” So, there was actually pressure to “be the man.” To “show women who is the man.” Yes, this was the Mad Men era.
I know, this is all utterly repulsive and it’s something that many of us from the baby boom generation have had to “re-learn” that “pawing aggression” is NOT what women want. This is not what “the man” does when he is being “the man.”
That is why it is so shocking to have Trump so in our face right now. It is rather like he is doing to us what he likes to do to women, “kiss them,” “paw them,” “grab them by the p….” and we are all being “forced” to listen to adjudicate this guy’s sex life.
And let me be clear: IT IS REPULSIVE. And it’s not only because I’ve been “re-programmed,” but it’s because I’ve actually talked to women in my life, and know, without a shadow of a doubt, this is NOT what they want, what they need, what they are looking for in “the man.” So it actually feels like my manhood, my sense of myself as a man is being undercut, being violated in some fundamental way when parts of America are saying Trump’s behavior is okay.
And, of course, it’s not just me, but it invites other men to think, “Hm, maybe I can be the man like Donald Trump.” And this includes men who might date my daughters. So this is all deeply personal and deeply disturbing.
THIS IS NOT A GREAT TIME TO BE A MAN IN AMERICA. TRUMP HAS MADE MANHOOD A JOKE AND AN OBSCENITY.
And not only that but I recently went through an experience in which a deeply patriarchal culture nearly killed me.
As some of you know, in August, while we were in Cinque Terra, I was swimming with my wife, Brooke. A wave smashed my shin into a boulder. The puncture wounds became almost immediately infected, and within six hours I had a 104 temperature, which did not subside for three days. I was in deep trouble.Cinque Terra is relatively remote, but the owners of our Airbnb had a private doctor and we had him come to our place. He casually put his unwashed finger into my wound; he downplayed the seriousness of the fever and the infection. And he did it by ignoring, dismissing and maligning my wife and her reports to him about my fever and situation. As I was out of it, Brooke became my advocate and I later learned, that in Italian he kept demanding, over and over again, “Silent, women; you worry too much.”
A similar situation ensued when we were in the Florence emergency room, where the chief doctor refused to recognize the signs of a serious, and I later learned, a life threatening infection, in which red lines were winding their way up the main arteries of my inner thigh. Only after a battle between Brooke and the doctor, did he take a blood test which showed an elevated white blood count, which forced him give me the appropriate anti-biotic.
And it didn’t stop there. One of the nurses, in the hospital, turned to me out of the blue, and asked, “Who are you voting for, Clinton or Trump?” I said, “Clinton.” The doctor, who was right next to her, turned to me, with a smile, “Trump, Trump. Too many bitches. Too many bitches.” The nurse nervously chuckled. I was appalled.
It became quite clear that these Doctors were not only incompetent but deeply set in its patriarchal culture in which women, the subordinates (all the nurses were women; all doctors were men), should be ignored, including my wife, and men should have full prerogative to make all the decisions.
THIS PATRIARCHAL COMPLICITY NEARLY KILLED ME.
Trump, for me, and many I surmise, is the reassertion of this patriarchal fantasy that somehow the past was better when men could be men and women could be objects. This farce is figured forth in Trumps constant boasting about women, not as full human beings, but always judged on their looks. ONLY beautiful women can serve in his restaurants; he only “f …s” beautiful women, and he would only “grab the p….” of a beautiful woman.
The reprehensible nature of Trump’s attitude and actions towards women is indisputable. He is the one that should be in jail, not Hillary Clinton. But if he succeeds and his ideology of male dominance succeeds we will all pay a terrible price. And not only women, but men who are encouraged and even bullied into being violent – we dehumanize ourselves and others by acting or even thinking like Donald Trump.
Patriarchal dominance nearly killed me, and I hope and pray it doesn’t destroy what is left of our American culture of respect for women and the self-respect that many American men have sought and achieved.