The circus that has recently been the US Presidential elections have served as a reminder of a fair few things, the majority of them being representative of the darkest and most putrefying elements of the character of the human race. The Republican candidate has touted an appearance of rebelling against the system and ‘not being afraid’ of complying with political correctness. When the recent scandal broke in which sexually vilifying and assaulting women was referred to as ‘locker room talk’ the conversation seemed to revolve around a blatant disregard for common decency. But is this what the issue actually represents? Is it about decency or is it more pertinently about the deeply entrenched institutionalisation of patriarchy in which our society seems to rest on?
For those who have defended the candidate in light of these comments the most frequent explanations have been that this was just ‘locker room’ talk and that ‘boys will be boys’. My favourite of these, and the absolute kicker was the ‘it was just talk, they were just words’ defence. To begin with, labelling these vile and repulsive comments as locker room talk is offensive not only to women, but to anyone who frequents locker rooms regardless of their gender. In addition to this, referring to the whole episode with a sweeping ‘boys will be boys’ mentality is highly insulting to the inherent nature of men.
These ‘words’ which have been played down to this extent are the starting point of the discourse which feeds into rape culture. By ‘apologising’ for ‘offending’ anyone and yet standing by the utterance of the statements themselves we have a political candidate running for office of one of the most influential nations in the world essentially reiterating that women, at the end of the day, are creatures primarily to be ogled and objectified. To take that one step further, Trump, and seemingly any ‘successful/powerful’ man is entitled to, in essence, ‘get his piece’ because that is just the natural order of the world. The truth is what was described in that recording is representational of the second class citizenship that women seem to be attributed within all elements of the human condition today, albeit if much less subtlety in their everyday occurrence.
Another horrific example of gender based discrimination that was on show during the most recent debate was holding Hillary Clinton accountable for her husband’s infidelity. I mean, should we just come out and say what Trump was so trying to get at: that she was incompetent even in her role as wife, and if only she could have satisfied her husband better he would not have strayed… I mean why is it that this woman’s ability to lead a country is determinant on her presumed ‘failings’ in measurement of traditional ‘wifely attributes’ and how ‘well’ she has or hasn’t played that role.
The truth is, the sense of purity of character, morals and standards that Clinton has been held to is in the complete opposite to that of the man she is running against. Surely in a truly equal world, both candidates would be held accountable to the same standards irrespective of their gender. And more importantly than all of this, no those were not just words. Those utterances were the foundation of male entitlement, entrenched patriarchy and harmful concepts of masculinity and gender norms. Honestly, have we not in 2016, come further than this?