Last week marked a difficult period for Donald J. Trump in his bid to become the next president of the United States (U.S). Trump’s ‘insight’ into the female psyche, however, touches upon a more serious issue in today’s societies.
Previously unseen footage of Trump from 2005 was released last week by the Washington Post. In it, Trump is heard making crass remarks about the female sex, and outlining the supposed key to all women’s heart: Fame.
Along these lines, Trump notes that ‘being a star’ gives a man free reign to do as he pleases with any woman, regardless of her wishes. How wrong you are Donald.
Interestingly, the shocking revelations about Trump touch upon a deep-seated concern regarding the notion of consent. Does a person ever have the right to impose their sexual will on another against their wishes? Are there instances where being forceful is ok? Is it acceptable to dismiss derogatory remarks about women as ‘locker room banter’? The answer to these questions is simple. No.
Trump’s remarks become even more significant when we consider their broader context. A report published by the World Health Organisation in 2013 declared that 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence. Those exposed to sexual violence do not only face physical and psychological injuries, but are also one and a half times more likely to contract HIV.
These figures suggest that attitudes towards women’s rights need changing. This point is highlighted further by the UN, who noted that the lack of women reporting incidents of violence may be linked to the ‘widespread acceptability of violence against women’.
It’s not just Trump’s original comments in the released video that caused anger. His subsequent ‘apology’, where he dismissed his remarks as ‘locker room banter’ has further negative implications, for both men and women.
For women, because Trump’s ‘apology’normalises the belief that men can speak about women in a crude way, and it dismisses women’s ability to consent to any relationships.
For men, because it paints the whole sex with the same brush. To label Trump’s comments as ‘alpha-male boasting’, as Nigel Farage (the leader of the UK Independence Party) recently did, suggest that such talk is common amongst the majority of men. This is far from the truth.
Trump’s remarks have led to an uproar from men who disagree with his perspective. The New York Times recently published an article surveying a range of men who rejected the supposed normality of Trump’s comments, whilst a wave of athletes from across America denied that such talk was part of their ‘locker room banter’.
With the UN’s International Day of the Girl fresh in the memory, which marks the unique risks facing girls throughout the globe, it is evident that much work remains. Comments such as those made by Trump are never helpful, and only help to create a toxic environment where women’s rights are neglected. The widespread disapproval of Trump’s comments is encouraging. Yet, the significant public support he continues to receive could be interpreted as a sign that the issue of consent and women’s rights are still, at this present moment, significantly undervalued.