Mr Trump’s latest misogynist outburst is no surprise at this stage. His behaviour is not an aberration or the banter of one lost individual, instead it is a logical continuum of sexism and male privilege in our society.
We are introduced to sexism the day we are born.
When I was younger, I thought of many sexist comments as simply normal since that was apparently the accepted way to refer to women and their bodies. I have probably made these sexist remarks myself. I have probably laughed at many sexist jokes.
Here are just some of the things that have been said to me or about other women to me:
Nice legs! Hey darling, don’t be so serious. Laugh a little. You are so hysterical. A blonde. Leave the thinking to others. She is such a bimbo. You are really career-oriented. Don’t you prioritize family? Women. You are a bossy. Are you one of those girls who smile at me and talk to me and then don’t go home with me? You have no breasts. We’ll take it from here, sweetheart. A woman shouldn’t weight more than 50 kg. Have you put on weight? She is such a slut for dressing like that. If only that cleavage showed a little more. She should blame herself. She must be so shallow for posting those photos on Instagram. You are so skinny. Did you see how fat she is? She has given birth, let’s hope she has bounced back. With a face like that, you can do anything in this world, sweety. Boys just are like that. Girls are sneaky.
Most women can come up with lists like these.
Donald Trump’s rhetoric is not an isolated case. Sexism is as much the problem of Trump as it is the problem of societies that reproduce his attitude and embrace it. He is the loudspeaker, we are the music.
Regardless of who wins the election, sexism is ubiquitous, alive and well. This poses the real question: After judging his comments, how many of us will transform that frustration into action regarding women’s rights to their own bodies (go Poland!), inequalities in wage levels, and the normalization of rape culture, to name a few? Besides the disgusting locker room talk mentality, sexism also exists on a much more subtle, invisible, racial and institutional level.
Sexism grows in strength insidiously. And that is why seemingly small things matter, too. It is our responsibility to not laugh at sexist jokes when we hear them, and we all know somebody who specializes in them. It is our responsibility to speak up in class, at meetings, or at family gatherings when we hear sexist remarks, even if that person pays for our college education.
As the mother of a baby boy, I view it as one of my biggest parental responsibilities to fight sexism. I do not want my son to be okay with ‘locker room talk’. I want him to understand what it means to be born with the privileges of a white male in this world. I do not want him to think boys will be boys. I want him to respect male and female bodies, including his own. I want my son to be able to be himself, whoever he thinks he is, not somebody boxed in a gender role society has allocated for him.
And besides parenting? My life goal is not to be respected because I am a woman but because I am an equal citizen.
Photo by Christian Mayrhofer.