I'm so sickened by Friday's lewd Trump tape. But what makes me even sicker is how that type of "locker room" talk is supposed to be laughed off if you follow the example of the R.N.C. and this guy's supporters.
Here's why that should be impossible for us to ignore.
1) That was not a locker room. It was a professional work situation. A TV interview. (Hence, the microphone.)
2) Many athletes have gone on record stating that they don't talk like that in the locker room. Dirty talking is not the same as bragging about assaulting a woman.
3) He was a 59-year-old man at the time, not a 14-year-old boy on the JV football team. Although...
Let's be clear. What he was bragging about is sexual assault. And we women, we're not being "good sports". We're hysterical, prudish, over-reacting feminists (said with a sneer) if we call if what it is--rape.
As women, there have been numerous times in our lives where we have denied unwanted male advances. You all know what I'm talking about. And that may have cost us our job, promotion or most importantly our dignity.
It is often covert--cloaked in a compliment, delivered by someone in authority, wrapped inside of a joke or said straight up to your face with a wink--and if you so much as bat an eyelash--you're overreacting.
It has been my observation that the boundaries between annoying "boys will be boys" behavior and actual assault are blurred, allowing it to slide under the radar like it did for my 27-year-old roommate.
Her male gynecologist, during an exam, told her she had a "beautiful vagina. One of the best he'd ever seen."
Here's a woman, feet in the stirrups, at her most vulnerable. And a doctor, committing what I saw as the ultimate abuse of power.
She had taken it as a compliment.
It made me want to puke--and call the police.
"He's a professional! He should NEVER say that sort of thing to you! EVER! Everyone knows gynecologists are only allowed to talk about the weather when they're down there!"
After convincing her that he had crossed the line, she finally realized that in order to save another woman from this creep she had to report him.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a hotly debated topic by men and women-- And I'm not sure why. Just look at the women defending Trump. It boggles the mind.
"Clearly, the situation was "misconstrued", they'll insist.
I loathe that word. Misconstrued.
Lots of slimy people get away with highly questionable shit by hiding behind that word.
Here's the thing. We don't misconstrue anything.
Our gut construes everything you said correctly. Your innuendo? It was interpreted exactly how you meant it. There was no mistake made.
Except for YOU thinking we won't say anything.
I grew up with a brother and worked my way through school on the night crew of a supermarket filled with twenty-something guys.
I know men and I know male humor.
I get it. It can be bawdy and blue and I'm a real broad--one of the guys--so I'm often right there in it--and I let a lot of shit slide.
But there's a line. A boundary that should never be crossed, and you'll know its been breached--by the pit in your stomach.
My male boss was always the epitome of appropriate behavior. He never made a misstep. But one day in the midst of an all-male jewelry buy (or a shark feeding-frenzy, take your pick) the free-range testosterone in the room took control of one of my boss' partners and best friends.
As this man went to leave he hugged me goodbye. And being a good sport I let him. Right ladies?
The hug lasted an inappropriate length of time and was a little bit too tight. Suddenly I felt it--his semi-erect penis pressed up against my thigh.
Oh my god this is really happening...This is no accident. This is no mistake.
Reflexively and forcefully I pushed him away with both hands while looking him straight in the eye.
He just winked and made a quick getaway.
I felt blindsided. Stunned. A unique mixture of embarrassment and rage. Then I went ballistic! Immediately I ran over and grabbed my boss by the arm, yanking him out of earshot of the others.
"That man!" I hissed. "You had better keep your friend away from me--he is never to lay a hand on me again, DO YOU UNDERSTAND? If he does--I will quit and then I will sue him all the way to hell and back!"
He looked confused. "O...kay..." he stammered, looking away.
"He pressed his dick against my leg!" I whisper/yelled, staring him down, trying to make him understand. He immediately looked down at his feet, embarrassed. "Okay", he replied, wishing he were invisible as he quickly turned and walked back to his buddies.
I could tell he thought I was overreacting. That I had misconstrued his friend's natural affection, mistaking it for lechery.
I tried not to gag every time I had to see that man again, which was often since he was a part of my boss' inner circle. But nothing even remotely resembling sexual impropriety happened again.
Not to me.
In the ten years that followed he settled three workplace sexual harassment cases (that I know of), out of court.
I think it was when my boss told me about the second one that his face registered some sort of understanding and an unspoken apology for having doubted me.
That would have to be enough.
Society wants us to be quiet. To play along. To be "good girls." We're all good girls here, aren't we ladies? And good girls always make sure they VOTE.
Please, if you can, tell me your story. We ALL have them.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-656-HOPE for the National Sexual Assault Hotline.