Solomon: Locker Room to Game Day
The 2016 election exposes our inexcusable tolerance of misogyny.
In the final sprint of arguably the most bizarre election in American history, every possible news source is beyond saturated with the words “Trump” and “Clinton.” Like many Americans, I am tired. I am tired of the political vitriol, the crude and indecent dialogue and the utter failure of the media and candidates to ge nuinely address matters of substance. I am tired of having to justify everything as a choice between the lesser of two evils. And most of all, I am tired of feeling embarrassed, as an American citizen, of the international laughingstock we have become.
But this article is not about which candidate is more fit to be president. Rather, it is about our moral degeneracy as a society, made evident by the fact that we have allowed sexist and sexually abusive men such as Donald Trump to attain success and power.
Despite his claims to the contrary, Trump’s locker room talk is not just locker room talk. It is talk he brings with him on game day. It is talk he conveys on the campaign trail, on social media, on national television and, disturbingly enough, on the floor of American presidential debates. Worst of all, it is talk that reflects Trump’s past acts and predicts his future ones if encouraged.
The country in which someone like Trump can repeatedly treat women with such little respect and still come so close to becoming President is the same country in which rapists like Brock Turner get to spend a mere summer vacation’s worth of time in jail for assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. It is a country in which every 109 seconds an American is sexually assaulted, with 90 percent of victims being women. It is a country in which half of the human race still receives unequal treatment, unequal recognition and unequal recompense.
Men like Trump are not our disease — they are our symptoms. Trump was elected as the Republican Party’s nominee through popular vote. Whether his supporters agree with his sexist opinions or simply do not know or care enough to reevaluate their votes does not matter. When it was time to cast their ballots, these men and women endorsed him, endorsing his views and therefore endorsing the idea that misogyny is a welcome, or at least acceptable, trait in a leader.
Unfortunately, much of the endorsement of Trump’s rhetoric and behavior has come from women themselves. I am not just referring to his female voters; the women in Trump’s personal life have stood by him throughout the years despite everything he has done. His first wife, Ivana, declared during their divorce proceedings that she had been physically abused and raped by Trump. She later dismissed the gravity of the situation, but to this day she has never explicitly recanted any of her allegations. Trump’s 2005 Access Hollywood statements bordered on a description of sexual assault while his current wife Melania was pregnant with their child. Yet after the statements were released, she still stood by her husband. Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, has painted him as a model father, a man of success and someone worthy of respect. Much like Hillary Clinton has stood by Bill Clinton’s side through multiple accusations of infidelity, the women in Trump’s life have advocated for him despite a plethora of evidence and public statements proving him to be the disgusting chauvinist he really is.
I am not blaming only women for supporting Trump in spite of his brazen sexism. I am blaming everyone who contributes to the social pressure that forces women to stick with men who fail to respect them; I am blaming everyone who contributes to the normalization of verbal and physical abuse against women; and most of all, I am blaming those who, through their voices and their votes, show that they care more about their own material wealth than about treating human beings of every gender, race, origin and status with care, dignity and civility.
Trump is where he is because of us. Turner is back in school because of us. Men defending Trump’s rhetoric as locker room talk can go back to loving and forgiving families and wives because of us. The world will not change overnight, but our attitudes can begin to shift. Unless we establish a zero-tolerance policy for sexist, racist, discriminatory or otherwise morally degrading dialogue and behavior, we will continue to subject our society to increasingly bigger threats from men like Trump.
Editor's note (Oct. 13, 2016):
Another article was originally published under the heading "Solomon: Locker Room to Game Day." The post has been updated with the correct version.