When my family gathered for Thanksgiving this past weekend, there were seated around the table, four males and ten females. I have a lot of extraordinary women in my life.
I have been the husband for 39 years of a wise, strong, smart, capable, independent thinking, kind, compassionate woman.
I have two daughters who share these qualities in abundance with their mother. I have four granddaughters whose parents are raising them to be a forceful presence in the world.
The thought that anyone might ever speak of the women in my life, or any woman, the way Donald Trump apparently believes it is acceptable to speak about women, grieves me deeply.
The comments Mr. Trump made eleven years ago in reference to a woman, are not just “locker room banter.” This is not just “boys being boys.” His words represent a despicable attitude all men must disavow.
The fact that Trump made these comments eleven years ago is irrelevant. He was sixty years old at the time. And, just for the record, he was not in a locker room anyway. He was in a professional setting with people he hardly knew. This is a measure of how natural such talk obviously is for Mr. Trump.
What is relevant is how he is responding today to words that have come back to haunt him from his past. The fact that he dismisses them as “locker room banter” and immediately pivots to accusing another man of worse behaviour, indicates that Trump has not matured; he has no genuine repentance and no ability to gauge the severity of his own words. He has learned nothing in eleven years.
But, it is not just Trump who is a concern in this story.
According to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll conducted immediately after the now famous audio tape of Donald Trump bragging about assaulting women was made public,
Ten percent of Republicans said the video gave them a positive feeling….. and 8 percent said it made them feel more favorably toward Trump.Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/10/politico-morning-consult-poll-229394#ixzz4MmLPyc2o
Who are these people who respond to a pollster’s question about a man publicly extolling the virtue of being free to abuse women, by saying the comments gave them a positive feeling and made them feel more favorably towards the predator? How, after all the years of education and activism to improve our culture’s attitude towards women, can it still be deemed acceptable to speak of women as nothing more than sexual objects for the gratification of male desires?
If there is any silver lining to this particularly dark cloud, it may be that some women from the conservative religious world are finally breaking ranks and coming forward to speak against the Trump attitude.
The Daily Beast reported yesterday that popular evangelist Beth Moore has stepped forward and said,
I’m one among many women sexually abused, misused, stared down, heckled, talked naughty to. Like we liked it. We didn’t. We’re tired of it.
Katelyn Beaty who until recently was the print managing editor of Christianity Today, America’s largest evangelical Christian publication, speaks for women who have suffered sexual assault and challenges all men asking
When will you believe me and stand up for me?
It has been said that, “The only thing necessary for evil to prevail is that good men do nothing.”
It is time for “good men” to do something, say something, speak up for women who are victimized by language, by behaviour, and by egregious abuse that continues in our society.
When we men stand passively by and acquiesce in attitudes that demean or in any way diminish women, we share the guilt of those who actively abuse those women. When we allow our communities to marginalize women, when we refuse to honour their voices, and make sure they have every opportunity to be fully heard and genuinely respected, we participate in creating a world in which it is deemed appropriate to treat women in a way we would not tolerate men being treated. This is unacceptable.
By all accounts, the Trump tape is not an isolated incident. It represents a prevailing attitude in Mr. Trump’s world. He represents everything that is worst and most damaging in male attitudes towards and treatment of women. Our actions and words create the culture we inhabit. When we refuse to speak against misogynistic attitudes wherever we encounter them, we are culpable in their perpetuation.
Where are James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell Jr., Franklin Graham, and their cohort today? What possible political machination allows them to remain silent? Where is their loud trumpeting of “family values” in the face of their candidate’s habitual misoginy? Why are they not standing for the gentler, kinder, more respectful attitudes that were clearly characteristic of the man whose teachings they purport to follow?
If conservative leaders hope to rescue any shred of respect from the train wreck of Trump’s run for the presidency of the United States, they must do what they constantly urge other to do. They most loudly and publicly repent.
They must repent of their refusal to live by the values they purport to espouse. They must repent for having abandoned and diminished the women of their communities. They must repent of their narrow, bigoted interpretation of faith and their refusal to see the humanity, compassion, and grace clearly manifest beyond their own tight little Christianist world. They must repent of their myopic obsession with a small number of “social issues” that have dominated their political agenda for the past thirty years.
I pray that out of this terrible election cycle may come the motivation for a cleansing of the Christian house. I pray that a vision may emerge from the ashes of the culture wars in the US to build a world more respectful towards women and all people. I pray that women may begin to find a tiny light of hope emerging in their hearts that we are committed to working together to develop a culture in which they need not fear any longer being victimized by the words or actions of any man.
nb: it appears that even some men in the conservative Christian world may be waking up to the horror they have wrought: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/james-macdonald-trump-evangelical-council-lecherous-worthless-access-hollywood-tape
Although this story reveals an ignorant call to violence and a quaint naiveté that are hard to countenance, it contains at least some glimmer of hope:
“Mr. Trump’s comments released yesterday—though 10 years ago (he was 60)—are not just sophomoric or locker room banter,” James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel, an Illinois-based evangelical church, wrote in an email Saturday to his fellow members of Trump’s faith council and some opponents of the GOP candidate. “They are truly the kind of misogynistic trash that reveals a man to be lecherous and worthless—not the guy who gets politely ignored, but the guy who gets a punch in the head from worthy men who hear him talk that way about women.”…
“If Mr. Trump isn’t seeking our counsel now—1) to be repentant 2) on how to portray that repentance, then the idea of a faith council (which has deteriorated into influence brokering anyway) is really kind of a joke right?” MacDonald wrote.