Tuesday, October 11, 2016


The Peach-Hued Puckered Mouth Hole Himself
Image: Wikipedia

I'm not sure there's any woman I've ever known who has not been sexually assaulted in the way described by the current Republican nominee to the presidency of the United States.

“To say that locker room culture is somehow this defense for what Trump is saying is really denigrating all professional athletes,”
--Former Minnesota Viking Chris Kluwe

I smile that the quote above comes from a Viking, because the man I married is a Vikings fan. The purple sweater I was wearing when we first met, he liked, because it was just the right Vikings color.

Beloved Ex is a MAN. He is a man in the sense of the word I came to understand under the tutelage of my mother and father, a man in the sense I expect of any man I have ever dated or been friends with, a man in his own skin and in his own mind, a man of integrity such that he need never impinge upon the dignity of another human being. Ever.

Around the time he and I became engaged, I was living in an apartment on campus, and he came to see me once, bewildered and upset. He'd been out to a bar the night before, and while sitting outside on a freezing Ohio night waiting for his van to warm up, his long, looping golden hair had caused two guys to mistake him for a woman alone. Not his first experience being mistaken for a girl, from behind, though he was 6'1" and had shoulders even more prodigious than my own. But this was the first time he ever got TREATED like a girl alone.


As I recall his retelling of the incident, this was about the extent of their enticements before they realized he was a guy and (thankfully) failed to gay bash him for their error(s). (In all the years I have known him, BEx has not felt the need use his fists; but my suspicion has never been that he would be unable to - and brutally - if he perceived the need.)

He came to me with this experience, with this story, to retell it: to hope that I would tell him it was strange, that this doesn't really happen, that his experience was special and awful.

"Do guys SAY things like that to women?"

I can still feel, in memory, the tired smile I gave him. Hell, I heard fifty comments like that in a weekend, back then. On gigs with HIM, while I was watching him play and when our friend Joe (even bigger than BEx) wasn't by my side. He even once watched while a bunch of guys came up behind me and pulled my skirt up, exposing me. (No. He didn't use his fists even then; it was FAR too easy to just stop the show to call them out - management ousted the idiots, toute de suite.)

BEx is many things - boyish, even now. Perhaps even still, in some ways, dazzlingly innocent. He's not ignorant (magna cum laude,  in fact). But his purity is beautiful, and his virility is as pure as all his sweetness. He's ALL man - his skin is warm, his hands are big, he's got an enviable square jaw, he looks like a man, a big, Nordic man.

He has no need to grab a woman or a girl, and no desire to lessen anyone else in the world.

This is the kind of man I knew was worthy of attention, from the earliest age. I've never blessed an ass with my regard, never loved anyone who wasn't a real MAN - a man of such wholeness in himself he could no more fracture another person than murder them.

Real men are bewildered by Donald Trump's idea of "locker room" talk.

Mr. X is the same way. Perhaps less a wide-eyed Midwestern boy than BEx is, Mr. X still cannot fathom the objectification of women. He knows about it; he's not shocked by it. But appalled? He is appalled by it.

He's a man, too. Tall, dark, and handsome, at that. And he's a man who also happens to have a daughter.

The thing is, he does not find sexism wrong because he had a child with matched chromosomes.

He finds it wrong because it IS wrong. It was wrong before he ever had children. It's literally inhuman: dehumanizing.

I've known a lot of men, boys, and guys in my life. At a certain stage in my youth and development, I had no use for girls. So I hung out with boys - school mates and mall rats. I heard a LOT of the kind of discussion Trump wants to pretend his comments released this past weekend were - indeed, wants to pretend his entire view of womanhood is. I heard boys looking at other girls passing by, I heard them talking about things that happened with other girls the night before. I heard them assess me, right to my face, and I was okay with that.

There are issues there. Deep, and layered.

But the fact is, even RIGHT NOW, I know this: not one of those guys, even the ones telling me right to my face I was cute, or my chest was small but my ass was great, ever would have encroached upon me physically. They never DID. For one, they were afraid I would kick *their* asses. My reputation did not include the likelihood I was ever going to put up with being grabbed, or kissed, without clear consent - or, more accurately, encouragement. My reputation also included the salient fact that I was a virgin, and not looking to change that. My virginity both soured and sweeteened the grapes; they knew I wasn't a going concern, and they were a little tender about it, protective of me.

Paternalistic? Yep. Threatening and dehumanizing? No. I didn't hang out with the Trumps of this world. That was the preppy guys at school and, later, certain entitled, rich frat guys at college. Those called me a whore for not being available to them. Logic!

My friends were not a bunch of boys with clean noses. They got into drinking and drugs, many of them did indeed knock up one girl or another ("She trapped me" was a wearyingly familiar refrain). Scrapes with the law. I even remember one I didn't know so well, who showed us a trunk full of guns he had to sell. Not choir boys. But not rapists, either.

None of these guys (well, save First Love, of course) ever quite measured up to my standards and expectations. So none of them ever really got my attention. None of them was, by my archetypal, by my conscious or unconscious or ineffable standards: a man. Save First Love, of course.

Some of them, all these years on, I imagine may be voting for Trump. Those who are alive, who even bother with voting.

Caging the animal is a start.
But don't self-confessed criminals belong behind bars?
Image: Wikipedia

My point is, my experience of men's "talk" about women is not limited to the pretty compliments given me by adoring wooers. Or even the wary kindnesses emitted by those familiar with my big brother. Eep, he scared off some boys, he did. (Reasons I dated younger guys in high school: they had missed out on Diane Major's big brother.)

Even after my mall rat years - spending as much time in bars with BEx gigging as I did, alone by appearances, while he was between sets or onstage - I had plenty of ears full of men's talk about women. Sometimes, about my person, sometimes not. Heck, even if you just sit quiet and still in some bars, they forget you are sentient, and speak pretty damned candidly - either for you to hear, or not realizing you do. Some say execrable things, even concerning things.

MEN: never speak like Donald Trump.

Not even most boys, not ones raised by anybody who cared. I started to say "in a barn" there, but Trump is beneath the barnyard, frankly.

A barnyard is a place where horse shit is wholesome, and perfectly congruent.

When somebody tells you who they are:
believe them.


Jeff said...

Because I went to a big state school, I encountered more than a few guys who did talk like that and tried to rope me into it, and what strikes me even now, a quarter century later, is that they always believed that's how every man talks in private. We need to be honest about the fact that a brain drenched in testosterone naturally has all sorts of unsavory thoughts, but some of us truly have never spoken even remotely like that either to a woman or about a woman.

DLM said...

Oh there were creatures like that at my high school and at my college as well. But real women prefer real men. Those objects are not men except in the basest, most technical sense of the term. Devoid of its human dimension, they are biologically mature human males, but they are not men.

I have all sorts of unsavory thoughts, myself. Humanity doesn't need to be expunged of its worst thoughts. It needs to regulate its actual deeds.

Donald Trump has confessed to literally criminal acts and ideation. He dismisses this as if all men get to that point when women aren't around. I reject that categorically, and I reject The Donald. As all decent humans should reject any such "man" OR woman.

And he wants to lock Hillary away. When he's the one proudly confessing illegal, immoral behavior.

Jeff said...

Oh,I hear ya; I'm not voting for that horny, demented yam. But I'm not voting for his opponent either. I'm leaving the president line blank on my ballot. Whether anyone hears it or not, it's my way of demanding that all of the parties, including potential third parties, serve up better candidates in the future.