So Donald Trump thinks he’s so gorgeously famous that he can do pretty much anything to any woman, and she will agree. And he simply can’t stop himself (or at least he couldn’t back in that now-infamous 2005 voice recording). And we’re all up in arms.
He has ‘dehumanised’ these women, even calling one of them ‘it’. He has talked about sexual assault as though it were a privilege of his fame. He has shown that, at least back in 2005, he felt that misogynistic behaviour was completely acceptable. And a large portion of the world is outraged.
But you shouldn’t be.
We need to look in the mirror on this one. We all helped to co-create this.
As has already been pointed out by a number of commentators, the real issue here isn’t that Trump seems to despise women. That’s not new news, given his comments during the presidential campaign. It’s that Billy Bush stood by and laughed with him. It takes real guts to stand up to a bully. But not standing up to them reinforces their belief that their behaviour is acceptable. And Billy Bush was just doing what most of us would have done.
It starts with each and every one of us. Each of us can make a difference. You can make more of a difference than you might think.
I remember back in my engineering days, I was sent on an ‘equality’ course, because the factory I was working at had been in the press with some alleged problems. As one of only two female engineers on a staff of 200, with over 1,000 factory workers, I had worked hard to strike the balance between being friendly, and being myself, but having boundaries, without being dubbed the ‘Ice Queen’. It was a daily dance. And, normally, we all got along fine.
There came a point in the equality course discussion, which was facilitated by a professional trainer from an external company, where ‘locker-room banter’ began. I was the only woman on that module of the course, with 10 men. They started to talk about what it’s like to have women in a factory. It was clear that at least some of them were far from impressed by the way it had forced them to change their ‘page 3’ culture. And two of the men, who were ‘old-school’ in their thinking and talking about women, discussed the story of having to fit rape alarms in the factory-floor women’s toilets. They thought it was hilarious.
I sat there, astonished. No one looked surprised that such alarms should be needed, except for me. It had never occurred to me that I could be at risk, by going to the loo. The facilitator allowed the conversation to continue, unchecked.
And it got worse.
The man responsible for maintenance, who had fitted the alarms, explained that they had to decide where to put them.
“How did you do that?” asked a curious colleague.
The maintenance man gave a belly laugh and replied, grinning, “Well, a group of us got together and went to the women’s toilets and then we imagined where we would rape a woman, if we wanted to do that in there. And that’s where we put the alarms.”
I felt so shocked. Sick. Disgusted at the thought of these men, with whom I worked, visualising raping a female member of staff in the toilets. Laughing about it. They had daughters. I was shocked that no one in the room pointed out how wrong this was. I was really shocked that the professional trainer didn’t stop the conversation and point out how wrong it was. On an equality course? When I objected, I was laughed at: “It was just a game! No big deal!” Even then, the facilitator said nothing.
Because that’s just ‘locker-room banter’.
And I had learned, early in my engineering career, that it was part of the job and I had to just accept it; to toughen up. Just like I had to be ok with the factory workers in another factory I worked at drawing my face on the top of a naked model on a calendar a supplier had given them, hanging next to the machine I was monitoring. Everyone knew about it. No one took it down. I was supposed to find it funny.
Just like I had to ‘accept’ being asked if I was wearing suspenders or tights under my skirt, one day when I had to make a board-level presentation. I just had to get on with it, trying to strike a balance between standing up for what was reasonable behaviour, but also being able to get my job done.
I left that factory – and engineering – soon after the equality course, because I knew I couldn’t change the environment, but I also knew I couldn’t change myself enough to ever believe that it was acceptable that not one of the men in that room had objected.
But this isn’t something that is reserved for factory-floors. It is part of our culture:
Earlier this week I was reading an inspirational article about a woman who reclaimed her health and happiness, through using EFT (‘tapping’). It was published in a mainstream newspaper. She had dropped from a size 18 to a size 8 in a year and she said she felt great, having dealt with the grief-based emotions that had led to her comfort eating.
What were the comments full of? No, not messages of hope and congratulations. Not a single one. But:
“At least she kept her t*ts!”
I’m not kidding you. Yes, comment after comment about the fact that this lady’s cleavage size hadn’t reduced as much as her waistline. And not a single person objecting to these trolls. The ‘locker room’ is now the comments section of every website that dares to publish anything.
But the rot goes deeper than that.
And we need to look in the mirror.
The ‘locker room banter’ isn’t just for men. Women do it, too.
Every time we publicly criticise someone, ripping them off their celebrity pedestal, we dehumanise them. We don’t care how much it hurts them.
We get a thrill from reading and sharing the articles that are judging them and knocking them down a peg or two, but we forget that they are human and that it will hurt them, at some deep level. We buy the magazines. We scour the gossip websites. We want to know about every mistake people make, about every flaw they have, and then we share it far and wide.
Experience has shown that it can drive people to depression, addictions and even suicide, and that’s without beginning to consider the effect on their families.
But it goes even deeper than that.
When we gossip about a work colleague, when we think and behave unkindly towards someone who has perhaps annoyed us or not done what we wanted, we forget that it causes them pain, too.
We are happy to say things about people, behind their backs, that we would never dream of saying face-to-face. That is turning them into an ‘it’ – into an emotionless object to amuse and entertain us, in just the same way that Donald Trump did. Our inner critics breathe a sigh of relief, as they get to project our inner pain onto someone else for a few minutes, raising a laugh from our companions, as we do it.
I’m not comparing office gossip with bragging about sexual assault, but it’s on the same slippery path of not treating others with the respect and compassion that we all deserve.
Each time we condone that much milder version of behaviour, we are effectively saying that how other people feel doesn’t matter – that they’re somehow not important enough or human enough for us to care how they might feel about our words or actions.
At the far end of the scale, that’s what the recordings from Donald Trump illustrate.
If we want to co-create a world where this kind of behaviour no longer exists, then we need to start at home, in our own hearts, with our own thoughts and behaviours.
As the Dalai Lama said:
Whenever possible, choose kindness. It is always possible.
None of us is perfect, but we can all choose to set the intention to be kinder and more compassionate with our thoughts and words and actions. So if a judging, gossipy thought comes up for you this week, how about just letting it drift on through, and thinking, saying or doing something kind instead?
Feeling stuck? Got an Inner Critic running wild?
Being unkind to others other starts with being unkind towards ourselves. If you want to put an end to that, once and for all, then there are practical strategies waiting for you in Dare To Dream Bigger. It’s the ‘inside work’ handbook for entrepreneurs and passionate world-changers.
And there are whole sections in there on:
- how to tame your inner critic
- how to choose which thoughts to feed
- and even how to handle haters and trolls.
Want a signed copy? I’d love to send you one! x Clare
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Feeling stuck? Got An Inner Critic Running Wild?
Dare To Dream Bigger has whole sections in it on how to tame your inner critic, how to choose which thoughts to feed, and even how to handle haters and trolls. Want a signed copy? I’d love to send you one! x Clare
[thrive_link color=’purple’ link=’http://www.clarejosa.com/?add-to-cart=24250′ target=’_self’ size=’medium’ align=’alignleft’]I Want My Copy![/thrive_link]
[page_section template=’1′ position=’default’ padding_bottom=’on’ padding_top=’on’] I’d love to hear from you on this. Does this resonate with you?
How might you make these changes, in your own life?
And is there anywhere that you might want to stand up for respect and compassion, where you could make a difference?
Let me know, via the comments.[/page_section]
I so agree with you, Clare. It is important for us to speak out whenever we see hurtful behaviour of any kind. The “locker room” mentality is so prevalent and it is particularly painful to hear women condone and accept it, which happens in both the US and unfortunately here in Canada as well. Radio talk shows also give the trolls a voice. I was recently in the US visiting friends and saw a frighteningly large number of ‘Vote Trump’ signs in the front windows of their neighbours.
I am particularly disturbed by Donald Trump and what he stands for because both my children live with their families in the US. My daughter counsels rape survivors, so you can imagine her reaction to Trump. And my son has been called a “feminist” (not always admiringly) but it makes me (and his wife) very proud. Neither one of them will fit into a Trump America so there are already discussions about moving to Canada. I’d love my children to be here in Canada with me, but I certainly don’t want them “”forced out” by Trump. We can only continue to wish the sensible, compassionate Americans well, and hope that they will overcome the fear and hate-mongering in the end.
Yep! So sad .. was given one of those Magazines last week on way to airport! Fairly horrifying unpleasant gossip people are reading now and apparently encouraged by the celebs too. Articles where journalists / want to be celebs think they are being ‘understanding’ or promoting fewer ‘body image hang ups’ are very superficial and rather counter productive!
‘In a world where you can choose … choose kindness !’ Not a bad mantra!!
I agree with all you say about cultures that enable negativity to flourish and I think that as mothers we have a responsibility to check misogynist comments and behaviour in our sons as well as our partners and colleagues.
For my own part I accept that I do get a thrill out of Donald Trump being taken down a peg or two, whether it hurts him or not. It’s hard to see him as the fearful male he is when he is capable of doing so much damage, and also to forgive him and not carry his comments with me when so much that he says presses my buttons about past experiences.
I think it’s about awareness of our thoughts and feelings, of not squashing them down but of accepting they exist and let them go.