Thursday, October 20, 2016

The heart of the matter

When sharing this Dan Savage column on Facebook, Shawn wrote the following post. I find it worthy of sharing beyond Facebook, so here it is:

This is important. Please read it. If you're someone close to me, please read this and understand that this isn't just some angry political post about how bad the other candidate is compared to my candidate. This is me trying to make you understand -- to really understand -- something important. Something that should be important to both of us.
In the wake of the now infamous video of Donald Trump and Billy Bush talking about kissing and groping women, many people -- including some people that I love and respect -- were quick to dismiss the whole thing as "guy talk" that happened "a long time ago". But it's much more than that. It's indicative of the way far too many men think about women and about sex. It's not harmless banter. It revealed something about Trump that should not be ignored.
After the video was released, a lot of those who condemned it explained that they did so because they had a loved one who also happened to be female: a daughter, a wife, a mother. We shouldn't have to have a woman in our lives to understand that women are people, and deserving of respect. But if we have to view this through that lens, then fine, let's do that.
I have a daughter, whom I couldn't possibly love any more than I do. And depending on who's reading this, you may love her too. If not, think of the woman who is most important to you. Imagine if she came to you and said that some man put his hand up her skirt without her permission. Would you believe her? Would you tell her that this is just how men behave? Would you ask her what she was wearing? If you confronted the man and he implied that he'd never do that because your loved one isn't attractive enough, would you accept that explanation?
Trump bragged about how he could do whatever he wanted to women, including grabbing them by "the pussy" because he's a star. He said that he can't stop himself from kissing attractive women. He's said that he likes to walk into dressing rooms at beauty pageants unannounced so he can see women (and girls) in various states of undress. And when those claims went public, multiple women came forward saying that they'd experienced that very behavior. There's no reason to doubt that a man would do the things he boasts about, and yet there are many who do, and that's the problem. We excuse men for being animals, and we ignore women whom these animals attack. Or worse, we blame them for their attackers' behavior.
I'm not writing this because I don't want you to vote for Trump. Obviously I don't, but what I really want you to understand is that that "locker room talk" is not harmless. It's not typical. It's not okay. It's part of an entire culture of objectification and abuse. Not all men think this way, but far too many do, and the rest of us must speak up and make it known that we don't support it.
Think of my daughter, or think of any woman in your life that you love, and ask yourself if you'd really be comfortable allowing her to be alone with someone like Trump. Ask yourself if you want her to live in a world of Trumps. This is a big deal. It's important. Please don't minimize Trump's words or actions. I know you're better than that.

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