Nice work, America.
I just had to explain to my 9- and 11-year-old sons why Donald Trump, Republican candidate for the President of the United States of America said he grabs women’s vaginas without their permission.
And I’m a little angry.
See, I’ve spent my kids’ entire lives teaching them not to rape people.
That sounds harsh, I know. But at its core, it’s the truth.
When my kids were toddlers, I taught them to ask their friends and cousins if they wanted a hug before wrapping their pudgy little arms around them. I made it fun, I made it cute, and I practiced it with them.
When they were preschoolers, I taught them that they didn’t have to give Grandma and Grandpa or Uncle Herman hugs and kisses if they didn’t want to. Waving or giving a high five was good enough.
In elementary school, I taught my sons that chasing someone who didn’t want to be chased wasn’t a game, it was bullying.
I’ve taught them their whole lives that if they are wrestling or rough-housing (which happens all the time, as you can imagine) that they need to check in with each other, watch each other’s faces, and make sure the other one is having fun. “If it’s not fun for both of you, it stops immediately.”
When my oldest went to middle school, we talked a little bit about how to know if someone wants to kiss you, how to tell if somebody likes you, and how to talk about sex.
Yes, I’m one of those moms who’s been teaching my kids consent their entire lives.
When it came time to talk about the birds and the bees, their dad and I said that sex is something two people choose to do together, and that it’s fun for both of them, and that it’s a decision they’ve thought about and talked about, so they both know it’s the right thing.
I’ve been this vigilant not only because I don’t want them to grow up to rape somebody, but because I also wanted them to know that they do not deserve to be touched without first giving permission. Every single one of us, by virtue of being born, have the right to bodily autonomy. We all get to say “no” to being touched, groped, kissed, and fondled and to have that “no” respected the first time. Every time.
Even more, I’ve taught my sons that instead of touching someone and waiting to see if they say no, they need to ask first.
And ultimately, I’ve taught them that touching people without their consent isn’t just hurtful, but that it is a crime.
So today, after school on an unseasonably warm Friday, they figured out that Donald Trump must be a very bad man.
I wasn’t going to bring it up to them, but my 11-year-old got in the car and the first thing he asked was what Donald Trump had said about women that was so bad.
I thought hard about how to answer this. After all, my 9-year-old was listening, too. I didn’t want to be overly dramatic or scare them.
But my husband and I have had a hard-and-fast honesty rule since our kids were tiny. So I just said it.
“Donald Trump told another man that he kisses women without their permission. Whether they like it or not.”
“That’s gross,” he said.
“Yeah, and it gets grosser,” I told him. “He also said he just goes up to women and grabs their vaginas.”
Both of my kids’ jaws dropped.
“THEIR VAGINAS?” the little guy asked.
“Yes,” I said. “He used a grosser word, but that’s what he said.”
I explained that he was probably trying to be funny when he said that. But I asked if they thought it was a funny thing to joke about, grabbing a woman’s private parts without her permission, and we talked about how they would feel if they saw someone do that to me, or to one of their grandmothers, or to their cousin or aunties or their friends. They agreed, definitely not funny.
We also talked about “locker room talk” and how there’s a way some guys talk about women in private that they would never do in public, and how even when you think nobody else is listening, you still have to think about who might be hurt by what you’re saying.
These are tough talks. And in a way, I’m grateful for opportunities to talk to my kids about this stuff before they get to high school or college, and feel the real pressure to conform to the “man box” by saying and doing things that hurt women (and even other men).
But in the end, I’m left with a sick feeling.
Because it wasn’t a serial rapist like Ted Bundy who said this about grabbing women by the vagina.
It wasn’t even shock jock Howard Stern.
It was the Republican candidate for President.
@zackbornstein If Trump wins, I’m cross stitching the presidential quotes onto a pillow.
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
“Speak softly and carry a big stick.”
“Grab ’em by the pussy.”
— Zack Bornstein (@ZackBornstein) October 7, 2016
And while my kids already find Trump’s views on Mexicans and Muslims repulsive, they understand that people they know and love are going to vote for him.
They understand that some people whom they trust, and believe to be good people, think Donald Trump is a good enough person that they want him to be President.
Now just imagine the message that sends to my sons. And to your sons, and all of the boys and young men in this nation, about what it means to be a good person.
Imagine the message it sends to our daughters, and all of the girls and young women in this country about how men should treat them.
And that’s why I’m angry.
I’m angry he got this far, despite calling women fat pigs, dog-faced, Miss Piggy and everything else.
I’m angry that people I know still plan to vote for him, despite him saying he kisses women without their consent and that he will grab women “by the pussy”.
I’m angry that this nation, already so plagued by rape and sexual assault among every single population, not only thinks this behavior is okay, but wants to elect this man to the highest office.
Nice work, America. Donald Trump is your prize for the horrific way you’ve treated women for generations.
Trump is your reward for all the times you’ve disbelieved rape survivors, have looked the other way when powerful men have harassed and harmed women, and for all the prized athletes who’ve gotten off scot-free, or with little to no punishment for raping and harming women. Roethlisberger, Rice, Maryville, Steubenville, and Stanford. You know the stories. And you know what you’ve done.
Be better, America. For our kids.
Originally published by Joanna Schroeder at YourTango.