If you have paid any attention to the news over the past week then you must have heard about Donald Trump’s lewd comments that potentially refer to sexual assaulting a woman. You may have also heard about his conversation with his friend Howard Stern in which he approved of Stern referring to his daughter as “a nice piece of ass.” The pair of these comments have created quite a stir and may be the final nail in the coffin lid of his chances of being President of the United States. However, the most surprising thing to me is that these caused a stir at all. Not, mind you because they aren’t bad, but they are not all that different from anything else he has said. Sure the former may refer to him sexually assaulting at least one woman, but does that really shock anyone? Through out the candidacy of Mr. Trump we have heard crass sexual jokes during a debate, seen the transcript from an old interview with Playboy Magazine in which he stated that his friends don’t leave him alone with their wives, and heard reports of offensive language used in reference to underage modeling prospects. If all we had in the is-Mr.Trump-a-chuavinist-womanizer file was his remarks about Carly Finorina then we may be undecided, but given the amount of evidence should anyone really be surprised that he either attempted to sexually assaulted a woman or made up a story about sexually assaulting a woman?
Unfortunately I think the answer is both yes and no. I am glad that many were shocked by Mr. Trumps comments because we should be shocked by these kinds of open and offensive comments. In particular the statement made by theologian Wayne Grudem is interesting on this account. Dr. Grudem, shocked by Trump’s comments, retracted his earlier endorsement of Mr. Trump commenting that he had overlooked too much in terms of Mr.Trumps character and these comments reveal his true heart and the sexist nature of his previous comments which had been explained away. In other words, Dr. Grudem gave Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt, but in light of these decade old comments that kind of generosity can no longer be extended. Dr. Grudem says that Donald Trumps comments were “morally evil” and I agree, but the real issue is the culture that would foster such evil, let alone allow it to run for President.
Some have defended Mr. Trump by not condoning his comments, but stating that is just locker room talk. Plenty of guys talk like that when they are behind closed doors with only peers, and the truth is that this is true. I spent enough time in locker rooms to hear guys talk about the girls they hooked up with and how drunk everyone was when it happened. If you are disgusted by what Donald Trump said then you ought to be disgusted with the culture that affirms that kind of dialogue and the industry that banks on it for its continued profits. The common term is porn and America’s willingness to turn a blind eye to the pornography industry is the cause of a host of evils in our society. There have been connections made between porn websites and terrorist funding (not a joke), there are psychological stories and first hand testimonies about the effects of pornography and the male brain (its bad), pornography is a common link (one of the few) between serial killers and infamous serial rapist and killer Ted Bundy tracked his criminal tenancies back to a pornography addiction, sociological research tells us that pornography is changing the dating landscape for young adults because guys a loosing the ability to have meaningful relationships and interactions—this in turn puts more pressure on girls to be sexually active in order to keep a guys interest since the relationship requires more work than a porn user is usually willing to put into it (don’t believe me? just look up John Mayer’s interview with Playboy Magazine).
Here is a bit about pornography from a few researched based non-fiction books on masculinity. :
- Today, with gross sales of all pornographic media ranging between $10 and $14 billion annually, the porn industry is bigger than the revenues of ABC, NBC, and CBS—combined. Sales and rentals of pornographic videos and DVDs alone gross about $4 billion a year. More than 260 new pornographic videos are produced every week. Adult bookstores outnumber McDonalds restaurants in the United States by a margin of at least three to one. On the Internet, pornography has increased 1,800 percent, from 14 million web pages in 1998 to 260 million in 2003 and 1.5 billion downloads per month in 2005. – Guyland, 170
- The world of pornography is an egalitarian erotic paradise where both women and men are constantly on the prowl, looking for opportunities for sexual gratification. The typical porn scene finds a woman and man immediately sexually aroused, penetration happens instantaneously, and both are orgasmic within a matter of seconds. That is, the pornotopic fantasy is a fantasy where women’s sexuality is not their own, but is in fact a projection of men’s sexuality. In the erotic paradise of pornography, both women and men act, sexually, like men—always ready for sex, always wanting sex, and always having sex that involves penetration and intercourse to an immediate orgasm. It’s his orgasm that is the thrilling climax of the scene; hers is taken for granted and, in some ways, irrelevant. It’s the complete reversal of real-life sex, where his interest is a given and hers must be elicited, where his orgasm is usually taken for granted (and, in fact, he often has to work like crazy to delay it) and her orgasm is the prize to be achieved. – Guyland, 173-4
- The guys I interviewed consistently spoke of women more with contempt than desire. Women were “hos,” “bitches,” and “sluts”—words that are rarely, if ever, used by adult men (who almost invariably used “girl”) in innumerable research studies. In Guyland, young men see a relentless war between the sexes, and, as far as they can tell, the only way to keep from losing is to fool the women: to treat them as if you believe they are goddesses, while secretly demeaning them to your friends. You don’t have sex with women because you desire them; sex is the weapon by which you get even with them, or, even, humiliate them. – Guyland, 182
- Since one can assume that masturbation is at least in part a product of sexual excitement and gratification, then the appropriate questions about pornography are of an ethical and political nature, not only social scientific ones. What does it mean that many guys get erections and masturbate to images of women being degraded or humiliated? What does it mean that a scene depicting a woman being gang raped, slapped, spanked, and then ejaculated on would be arousing? – Guyland, 186
- During our research, a lot of young men told us about how porn has given them a ‘twisted’ or unrealistic view of what sex and intimacy are supposed to be, and how they then found it difficult to get aroused by a real-life partner. For many of them, a real-life sexual encounter can be a foreign and anxiety-provoking experience because communication skills are required, their body needs to be engaged, and they must interact with another flesh-and-blood person who has their own sexual and romantic needs. – Man Discnnected, loc. 145
- One University of Montreal study that initially sought to compare the behaviour of men who used porn versus those who didn’t could not even find a single 20-something male participant who had not seen porn. – Man Disconnected, loc. 159
- Another consequence of teenage boys watching many hours of online porn, says Penny Marshall, columnist for the UK’s Mail Online, is they are beginning to treat their girlfriends like sex objects. According to a 16-year-old girl, ‘Boys just want us to do all the stuff that they see porn stars do.’ As a result, says Cindy Gallop, a dynamic TED speaker and author of Make Love Not Porn: Technology’s Hardcore Impact on Human. – Man Disconnected, loc. 654
- The average age at which children first view porn is 11 years old. Sexual education in non-religious public schools tends to begin around the same time, and in the US it is taught mainly in two forms: abstinence-only and comprehensive…. Not surprisingly, neither the comprehensive nor the abstinence-only approach is very effective in its stated objectives. – Man Disconnected, loc. 1337-1351
The two books quoted above are written by renown sociologist of gender Dr. Michael Kimmel and leading Stanford University researcher and psychologist Dr. Philip Zimbardo. These are just a sample of the quotes on porn in either book.
Internet pornography is an epidemic, it is so ubiquitous that Playboy Magazine announced that they would no longer feature nudity because no one is going to buy a copy of Playboy for nudity when they have smart phone in their pocket.
To bring this around to the initial issue. What Donald Trump said is a problem, but it flows not merely from his heart (though it does flow from there), but from a culture that has been complacent in the face of an epidemic that is changing the way men think about women, sex, and relationships. This is far deeper than one man’s entitled and chauvinistic comments.