What a three-ring car crash the US election has become. Leaving politics and policies aside, the litany of disgusting, degrading comments made by Donald Trump about women, both in public and private, have become a deserved topic of conversation across the world.
Trump has dismissed the latest comments to emerge as ‘locker room talk’, and some have leapt to his defence. Actor Jon Voight said, “I don’t know of too many men who haven’t expressed some sort of similar sexual terms toward women, especially in their younger years…” A defence that left most in disbelief that sexually aggressive comments made by a then-59-year-old Trump were apparently youthful indiscretions, and universally used by men.
But in the main, the comments have been met with sheer disgust. Running mate Mike Pence began his response with, ‘As a husband and a father…I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them,’ while Florida Governor Jeb Bush similarly said, ‘As the grandfather of two precious girls, I find that no apology can excuse away Donald Trump’s reprehensible comments degrading women…’
Personalising their criticisms is obviously a strategic politic move but nevertheless the statements stand in stark contrast to the series of on-the-record debasing and downright depressing comments Trump has made, or agreed with, about his own daughter, who he’s described as ‘very voluptuous’.
(Of course he also famously said, ‘If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her’.)
(And when asked what if his daughter was sexually harassed at work, Trump responded, ‘I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case.’)
Trump’s comments have shone a light on the ugly language of misogyny and much more. They’ve prompted others to share their own accounts of sexual assault and harassment, with US actress Amber Tamblyn recounting when an abusive ex-boyfriend assaulted her in the way Trump so graphically described.
Trump’s attitude towards half the world’s population may yet be his undoing and the fallout from his repulsive comments has perhaps made him, and others, realise the damaging, destructive nature of such hateful words.
His comments have also, hopefully, encouraged fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, everyone, to have more conversations about language, actions, and respect. Maybe they’ve made more people consider that they would not want their loved ones spoken about in such a way, and consider that if a family member – or anyone else for that matter – was harassed, they would want the perpetrator held accountable, not the victim.