Watching brouhahas unfold is always very revealing; even if different people agree that whatever it was that whoever it was said or did or thought was cause for concern, they may disagree about what particularly made it so. The most recent major gaffe committed by the eternally-boorish Donald Trump is a perfect example. For those blissfully unaware of the train wreck we call a presidential election, I’ll recap: someone recently discovered a recording from 2005 in which Trump made comments to the effect that women let famous men get away with gross consent violations, such as kissing or groping them without asking. Here’s the video if you’re interested:
Getting a clean copy of this wasn’t easy; most of the versions on YouTube were either censored or edited. I’m rather glad that happened, however, because it actually reinforces my point. In CNN’s version, for example, the very first thing a viewer sees is a “warning” that the video contains “graphic language” (as though anyone watching would actually have never heard the words “fuck” and “pussy” before). Next, a description: “Footage from 2005 has surfaced featuring Donald Trump using vulgar language about women”, followed by a video in which a loud “bleep” has been inserted over the words (which rather makes one wonder what the point of the warning was). Look at the emphasis there: someone at CNN actually seems to believe, and undoubtedly many people agree, that the most salient point of the controversy was Trump’s language, that he had uttered taboo words which would presumably ritually pollute the dainty hearing of anyone viewing the video. The fact that he used these common words about women is presented as though that somehow makes it worse than if he had used similar words in talking about men, children, mixed groups of people or Shetland ponies; the assumption seems to be that women are delicate china dolls who are magically harmed when men emit certain sounds from their vocal apparatus, even if the woman in question did not even hear them. If he had joked about violating the physical boundaries of women without using those words, perhaps saying “I attempted to get her in bed” and “grab their crotches” instead, would that have made it all better in the minds of this unknown CNN editor and others like her? Because that’s certainly the implication.
But if this social conservative spin on the incident is questionable, the “feminist” spin on it is even worse. Yesterday morning I became aware of “Grab Her By The Brain“, a site whose founders apparently feel that the problem lies in the fact that Trump’s churlish comments were sexual in nature. The implication seems to be that while grabbing a woman by her sexual anatomy is a horrible thing, grabbing her by some part that stupid, shallow people imagine to be non-sexual is perfectly OK. As in the CNN video, the first words one sees upon landing on the site reinforce this: “Take part in the movement that refuses to accept the objectification of women – at work, on the sidewalk, at school, in the media, empower every woman by acknowledging her unique and immeasurable contribution to society.” That’s followed immediately below by “Value her for who she is,” which is a direct contradiction of the pusillanimous and patronizing platitudes in the line above, which urge the reader to value a woman not for who she is but for her “contribution to society”, which is quite a different thing altogether. For right now, let’s ignore the sexism inherent in the absurd notion that only women can be “objectified”, the infantilizing concept of “empowerment” as something granted to women from without as a gardener waters vegetables, the obsequious assertion that every single woman makes a “unique and immeasurable” contribution to society (a concept that’s ludicrous even on its face), and the tired neofeminist pretense that it’s somehow “better” or “more respectful” for women to be valued for the characteristics of one organ than for the characteristics of a different one; we are still left with the dangerously anti-sex mindset which imagines that so-called “objectification” can only be sexual while blatantly objectifying women as only valuable for our “contributions to society”. This pretense derives from exactly the same mindset as that of the Republicans whose disavowal of Trump after the comments were made public was expressed in phrases like “our wives, our daughters, our mothers”; it’s the vile and loathsome collectivist obscenity that women’s rights derive not from the fact that we’re individuals, but from our relationships to men and “society”.
Human beings, no matter what their gender, are individuals and don’t need outside collectives to “empower” them. Their rights as individuals, including their right not to be molested by either individuals or the operatives of the state, are inalienable and don’t depend on whether anyone else thinks they’re of “value” (whether for their intellect, for their sex appeal or for any other reason) to the state, “society” or any individual. So, please, stop pretending that “grab her by the brain” is superior to “grab her by the pussy”; you have no right to grab her, him or anybody by the brain, pussy or any other part without their consent. Human beings don’t exist to serve you, to be “empowered” by you or to be defined in relation to you. And only they have the right to determine what they wish to give to you, the state or “society”, and the conditions under which they will give it.