Trump’s Sexism Demeans Men

Jon Passantino retrieved a fascinating discussion Donald Trump, Jr. had in a March 2013 episode of The Opie and Anthony Show. It begins with the participants talking about whether women should be allowed in all-male golf clubs and then slips into them commenting on workplace sexual harassment.

“If you have a guys’ place you have a guys’ place,” Trump Jr., the candidate’s eldest son and executive vice president at the Trump Organization, said, describing himself as a “guy’s guy.”

A host interjected that women “complain, ‘it’s harassment’ — that’s why we hate having them around. They stop us from doing what we want to do.”

“I’m of that mindset — and I’ll get into trouble, I’m sure I’ll get myself in trouble one of these days,” Trump began, “if you can’t handle some of the basic stuff that’s become a problem in the workforce today, then you don’t belong in the workforce. Like, you should go maybe teach kindergarten. I think it’s a respectable position.

It reminded me of something his father tweeted about the same time.

Those comments not only objectify women and assume that it’s still a man’s world, they are terribly demeaning to men. Both Trump’s assume that all men are as depraved as they are when it comes to their treatment of women.

Yesterday in her magnificent speech, Michelle Obama spent a lot of her time talking directly to women about Donald Trump and his candidacy. But she also spoke about what it means to men.

And how is this affecting men and boys in this country? Because I can tell you that the men in my life do not talk about women like this. And I know that my family is not unusual. And to dismiss this as everyday locker-room talk is an insult to decent men everywhere.

The men that you and I know don’t treat women this way. They are loving fathers who are sickened by the thought of their daughters being exposed to this kind of vicious language about women. They are husbands and brothers and sons who don’t tolerate women being treated and demeaned and disrespected. And like us, these men are worried about the impact this election is having on our boys who are looking for role models of what it means to be a man…

Because let’s be very clear: Strong men — men who are truly role models — don’t need to put down women to make themselves feel powerful. People who are truly strong lift others up. People who are truly powerful bring others together.

That is precisely why Michelle’s remarks yesterday were such an antidote to the ugliness we are seeing in the Trump campaign. She not only touched women’s hearts and said it was OK to feel the hurt. She demonstrated what it means to stand up to it all and say, “No…this is NOT normal.” And she reminded us all how authentically strong men behave.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.