Wait, what? No, Melania, good men aren't "egged" into bragging that they can grab women's private parts any time they want. I get that you're trying to defend your husband, but that kind of national enabling will just continue the "boys will be boys" lie that sexual predators and perverts have long lurked behind.
That is, that men just can't help themselves. They are tempted, teased, lured and lulled by alcohol or drugs into doing what any red-blooded American man naturally wants to do—take what they desire sexually and then brag about their exploits. Or encourage others to if they don't have the, er, courage to follow through.
No, Mrs. Trump, your husband is an ugly cog in a culture that abuses women, makes dumb excuses for it and then belittles even men who don't want any part of it, try to change their own ways or who try to speak up about the rape culture.
Trump brushing off his words as "locker-room" jokes doesn't work because most athletes of whatever gender do not brag about or encourage sexual assault, and those who do need to be exposed and even prosecuted, as former New Orleans Saint Darren Sharper was. It is wrong, and archaic, to act like it's just what all men do.
That attitude, as Michelle Obama eloquently explained it last week, sets women up to be constant targets. And, I've long fretted that making excuses for abusive men makes it harder for non-criminal men who don't believe women are simply there for their one-sided gratification to speak out and help change this toxic culture for all of us.
Like many women, I was raped by this culture. Literally.
My rapist was a mini-Trump, if you will, at least by Neshoba County standards in the 1970s. He was a football player and a Mr. Everything at school; everyone loved him. And he was raised to do what he did to me, if not by his family, certainly by the culture that excused it.
Trump and others are lambasting women coming forward now. But there is power in numbers, and the NBC tape proved he admits to doing those very things. Trump's smirking retort is typical of sexual assaulters and their apologists: Why now? And: They were too ugly to assault when I could have a trail of women like Melania, Marla and Ivana.
That horrifying logic assumes that men assault women only when they're beautiful enough to be attacked. Really?
I didn't report my rape because no one would believe me. Even at that age, I knew I was powerless against that popular guy. I went, with others, to his house, and we were drinking beer and flirting. Plus, he could afford better attorneys who might pass my lace panties around a jury.
Rape victims face that scenario every day. We report, and we're victimized all over again, or we stay quiet, blame ourselves and pray the rapist doesn't do it again, knowing he probably will.
Besides, society tells us over and over again that "boys will be boys," whether it's the swimmer rapist at Stanford, the New Jersey teens who raped a mentally ill girl with a baseball bat and a broomstick in 1989, or Donald Trump over decades of vocal, and possibly physical, assaults on women and girls—all of whom acted like it was just what naughty men do.
Yes, this is horrifying for women, but it is also terrible for men. Talk about a bigotry of low expectations: Men are really supposed to accept that they cannot control themselves and their urges to refrain from committing a sexual crime?
I've long known men who are insulted by this low bar for their gender. They're belittled, too, if they won't play the game.
At this point, Trump is running to be a role model to other young men. But his example is having a lovely wife at home while bragging about his exploits to build himself up in the eyes of other men who, he presumes, are jealous of his life. This is about power and propping up a fragile ego—and promoting criminal behavior.
We've heard what Trump says about his daughter Ivanka—saying on a TV talk show that they have "sex!" in common as she smiled next to him. Just imagine what he's told his sons. Donald Trump Jr. proved the family cycle of misogyny when he said that women who couldn't take the stuff his father does should avoid the workplace and work in a nursery school. Seriously, bro?
Not all men rape. Neither do all men joke about sexual assault and belittle women constantly, or call them "crooked," a "piggy," ugly or say a woman belongs in jail because she challenges him. Trump is telling women to either support supposedly typical abusers, or be the butt of the joke, or worse. He's telling men who defy the rape culture that they are weak and "whipped" by women. He is setting an example of a double culture women should fear if we even know it exists: We can't trust what men do or say when we're not within earshot, or in the so-called locker room of depravity.
Trump's locker-room excuse sends bad messages, whether to would-be rapists or to aging "players" who make a sport out of leaving a long line of heartbroken interns in the workplace. I love that so many athletes are pushing back on him, saying they don't hear men around them encourage or brag about sexual assault. Now it is time for the roughly half of American men who do not adore Trump and his antics to speak out as well and change this disgusting culture.
At the second debate, Trump called on Muslims to report potential terrorist actions they see. America has far more rapists and harassers than terrorists of any background, and it's a daily crime. Men and women must report people who admit to the crime, but even more importantly, speak up before they do. Tell them their words aren't acceptable, that sexualizing women in the public arena is unacceptable, and to stop grabbing women, whether at the club or at a Mother's Day brunch in your tacky mansion.
Men, we need you to speak up in public and even in the locker room. Wearing pink cleats during October is a great message for defeating breast cancer; challenging men like Trump year-round when they disrespect women is an even better one.
Not all men assault women; let's start acting like it.