Oct. 14, 4:02 p.m. EDT —Full Hunters' Moon. With the leaves falling and the deer fattened, it is time to hunt. Since the fields have been reaped, hunters can ride over the stubble, and can more easily see the fox, along with other animals, which have come out to glean and can be caught for a thanksgiving banquet after the harvest.
“Pussies. Women have them, men want them. And so we talk about them. A lot. Get over it.” Quote from a Facebook ‘friend’.
“Women have all the power. They have all the pussy.” Quote from an offender in a sex offender treatment group.
Despite my usual avoidance of political posts on Watermark and on Facebook, earlier this week I met a tipping point and posted this. It was, as my friend Sharon says, “blurt[ing] truth in the heat of the moment” without careful thought, editing, or laying necessary groundwork.
So this is a second attempt.
Groundwork: As a clinical social worker, before involuntary retirement due to illness, I worked with sex offenders (and other violent offenders) for eight years, both in prison and out. I am now long out of touch with current research and practice, but I doubt my personal and clinical insights are obsolete.
It is that professional (and sadly some personal) experience that informs my opinions on these issues. I do not, of course, know either of these men. I am extrapolating from my work with others like them. My conclusions may or may not be entirely accurate, but I believe they are defensible. Below is an edited and expanded version of my original post:
What's on my mind?
I do not understand the shock expressed by so many regarding Trump’s latest scandal. There is a long history of sexual assault allegations against him, as anyone who has been paying attention knows. We don’t even need those; his public presentation offers more than sufficient warning of what he is.
I get the shock at Cosby. Cosby can feel shame. He has principles, he just violated them in violating others. He hid his behavior not only to escape punishment, but to escape himself. An understandable wish.
I think Cosby feels shame, not only because of hiding his offenses, but also because of how he committed them. He drugged his victims into compliance, and did his best to pretend to a normal, friendly relationship with at least some of them after the assaults.
I think this allowed him to rationalize that he had not been “violent”, which of course he had. It also allowed him to deceive himself that his victims probably wouldn’t remember what he had done, and he had therefore not harmed them.
This is classic offender thinking. Please note that I am not claiming that he feels any remorse, which is quite different from shame, and requires some amount of empathy for victims as well as honesty with oneself. The shame I think he feels is strictly for himself, in that he does not live up to the man he wants to think he is.
Trump feels no shame. He has no principles. Or, no, he has one: Donald Trump.
Trump feels entitled to anything he wants. He is entirely aware that taking what he wants causes damage to other people, but that is irrelevant. Other people are irrelevant; they are only tools to facilitate his own desires.
This is blatantly apparent. He makes no effort to conceal it. His contempt for the rest of us is a matter of pride for him. And he tells us so.
And now, after telling us so over and over, with his slurs against women, the disabled, anyone not white-male-heterosexual, anyone not born in the U.S. of American citizens, anyone not Christian (whater he may mean by that), the victims of his own bullying – now people are shocked?
His disdain for anyone other than himself; his encouragement of racist, heterosexist, nationalistic attitudes and behaviors; his approval of violence against those who disagree with him – this wasn’t enough?
Some pretend to be shocked by the language, and claim that it is only that. “It’s just words”.
But in fact, it’s not just that. It’s boasting about committing sexual assault and harassment, and getting away with it. Grabbing women by any part of our bodies without our consent, is assault. Kissing, groping, “grabbing pussy” is sexual assault. Unwanted, repeated attempts at seduction is sexual harassment.
And those men who aren’t quite sure that qualifies? Or are quite certain that it doesn’t? Can you even, possibly, stretch your imagination to see yourself approached by an old man who grabs your crotch, or your face for full-mouth kiss on (or before) introduction, or follows you around patting your ass and telling you how much he wants to fuck you, all despite your revulsion – and still deny that this is assaultive?
Let’s add, just for the hell of it, that this old man (he was no teenager when this tape was made; he was 59 years old) is extremely wealthy, way more powerful than you are, and in fact pays your wages. Or your sweetheart’s wages. Or in some other way can destroy your career.
Could you just try imagining that for a moment? Just for a moment.
Oh, and before you protest: these aren’t just his words. These are clear descriptions of what women have been saying about him for a long time. I’m guessing that, just as with Cosby, we are going to be hearing much more about this as his perceived power declines, and other victims begin to think they might, finally, be heard.
Or maybe not. The hundreds of workers and small businesses who have told stories of not being paid and/or otherwise abused by Trump and his associates seem to have a hard time being heard. Those hopeful tenants who were the wrong color to rent seem to have a hard time being heard. I’m sure there’s a yet-unheard large crowd of people waiting in the wings.
The problem, of course, is that saying this accomplishes nothing. There are stronger, more articulate voices out there. This is why I usually stop myself from addressing these issues. But now, my whole body insists.