This campaign season has been far too long and caused my social media feeds to be flooded with rants and ravings. It’s exhausting, I think for all of us. It makes me long for the days when merely asking someone who they are voting for was considered poor form. Le sigh.
There are more than a few people on my friends list with whom I disagree. Actually, a lot more than I would have thought. And more than once, I have found myself with a finger hovering over the “Unfriend” option, because wow, I-cannot-even-believe-what-you-are-saying-right-now-holy-crap. But I haven’t done it, because then I’m part of the problem. I shut out opposing views and voices and surround myself with my like-minded individuals and go about my merry way thinking I live in a world where we all love each other. That’s not reality.
It is one of those opposing views that has prompted this writing today. These are the kinds of things that wake me up at night now. It’s hours before my children roust and I’m needed to prepare them for school. But I can’t sleep because of something I read on a friend’s Facebook page yesterday.
While this friend has long been vocal about his distaste for our candidates, it was a post about the First Lady that has pulled me from slumber. He posted a video of her with her daughters at a Jay-Z concert rapping along to some lyrics that are, well, they’re Jay-Z lyrics. They’re vulgar and misogynistic, and I don’t need to go into detail beyond that. The point this friend was making was that Mrs. Obama took her daughters to this concert, and they were singing a song with the same word that Mr. Trump used in the now-infamous leaked tape. My friend proceeded to call it child abuse and then write out the lyrics to the song. I interpreted the point of his post to be, You are all up in arms about this guy (read: Donald Trump) saying p***y, but the First Lady is singing about it (over and over again) with her kids, and it’s no big deal.
And I stopped. This is thought-provoking. Why does this not bother me at the same level? So here is where I say profound thanks to my friend. He made me think about this in a way I wouldn’t have otherwise.
I love rap music. Particularly older, early-to-late 90s rap. I love beats and rhymes and all of it. But at a certain point, I had to start listening to lyrics and reconcile with them. A lot of them are misogynistic, some of them violent against others. At some point, I had to stop pretending I didn’t hear it.
There are a lot of ways I could go from here, but I have to focus on one bit otherwise this long post will become even longer. It’s the part where my friend seemed to say the rage about Mr. Trump is because he said the word p***y. I disagree that that is where the problem lies for most people. I hear that word. I have used that word. It’s not a great word, but it’s a word in our lexicon.
Like nearly every woman on planet Earth, I have been sexually assaulted. Rubbed up on in a club, kissed without permission, groped in a bar; it’s happened to all of us. And we just move along. Because we have to. Because if we were to report it every time it happened, it might be all we do. And even if we did, most of the time, we wouldn’t be believed.
It is frustrating and frightening to hear that not only do we have to put up with this bull shit, but that some men think it’s completely OK to do it.
And we’re just supposed to take it. Water off a duck’s back. No big deal that you were just physically violated. Walk it off.
That is the problem people are having. It’s isn’t the vulgar word. I have been privy to “locker room talk”. Men say some pretty gross stuff when they think no one can hear them. Bragging about conquests, rating women, ogling about how they look…that wasn’t what raised the hair on the back of my neck.
It’s the way Mr. Trump is so comfortable with saying, I take what I want when I want it. When he says, “They let you do it.” That is the kicker, right in the gut. They don’t “let you”. The way he describes it, they are never given a choice. Watching Billy Bush insist this woman give them hugs made my stomach turn. “How about a hug for The Donald? He just got off the bus.” Oh, Congratulations, Mr. Trump. Walking down three stairs is such an accomplishment. It absolutely deserves a hug.
Jay-Z raps about p***y, and tens of thousands of people sing along at a concert. But Jay-Z isn’t running for president. His character isn’t something I’m concerned about in regard to this election. Nor is the First Lady’s, for that matter.
What does concern me is the kind of person who will be a role model for my sons. As I try to navigate parenting them in this world, I want in a president someone they can look up to and say, I want to be like that. They are at an age where they will remember this when they get older, when they learn about it in history books.
I want to be able to look them in the eye when that time comes and say, I stood up for you. I stood up for me. I said, No. No to misogyny and bigotry and intolerance. I said yes to consent and respect for everyone.
And let’s be clear: If a video had emerged of Mr. Trump singing along to that song at a Jay-Z concert, we would not be having this national conversation. We just wouldn’t.