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Trump's sexist stench harms us all

I went to a wedding reception at the Bartlett Country Club last weekend, and guess who showed up? Donald Trump.

Not his groping, grabbing self in the flesh. Instead, it was the odor of his sexism.

Many of the reception guests were college classmates of the bride and groom. They all took college courses from me and are now in their mid-20s.

I’m 62, well past the age where I became sexually invisible to women. At least I used to think that way. Trump, being 70 and married, has cast a new, shady shadow on men my age, even those of us who have been part of decades-long marriages.

I didn’t realize this until I was talking with one of the bridesmaids, another former student of mine, outside the church. “You look beautiful,” I said. “All of the women in the bridal party look beautiful.”

She replied, “The guys do, too.” That’s when Trump’s misogyny wormed its way into my thoughts and made me wonder if she were tacitly saying I was spending too much time looking at the women in the bridal party, particularly her.

That question was answered at the end of the night. In the meantime, I thought about how Trump’s words have strained interactions between men and women who are barely acquainted. Both sides have been harmed as a result of his words about his deeds.

Consider the degrading comments about the women who have accused him of shameful, if not criminal, behavior. The worst came from Trump himself: “Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you.”

From others we have heard “why didn’t she report it before?” scorn and “she’s part of the conspiracy against Trump” paranoia.

Trump’s accusers aren’t the only women under attack. All women are under attack every day. Consider the continual threats, catcalls, body contact, lewdness, leers, and dismissal and devaluation of their work. There’s a word for it: oppression.

Because of it, women grow wary when they’re talking with men. If they’re wearing a skirt, they turn their legs to the side and cross them. They tense up if they think they’re showing too much cleavage, especially when they are seated and the men are standing. These seem to be instinctive postures.

This is true not only of women I worked with for years, but also of students I worked with for just a semester. I know why they’re defensive: because men have peered up their skirts and down their blouses throughout their adult lives.

Perhaps Trump’s “locker room banter” callousness and his seemingly unending disparagement of women have prompted more discussion about what women endure and what men should do in the face of it. If this is true, it’s the lone positive in all of this.

Because of Trump, I can no longer simply focus just on what women are saying. I also have to think of how I can present myself so they won’t worry if I’m sitting there scoring their bodies on a scale of 1-10. I used to think my respect was self-evident. Given Trump’s well-publicized boorishness, I’m not so sure anymore.

As for the woman in the bridal party whose remark unnerved me, she sat down in an empty chair next to me at the reception, and we talked about her many professional accomplishments since she graduated. Our cordial conversation cleared my mind of Trump’s sexist stench.

Sadly, Trump’s not the only man with this foul aroma. The stench isn’t gone for good.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 25th, 2016 03:50 am (UTC)
This was published in the online news site I work for,


As admin assistant, it's my job to take down inappropriate comments. The only one came early and you will see my response. The comment was by a jerk who frequents the site; it read:

The picture at the beginning of this article should have been of Bill. We all knew of his issues and I’ll bet anything you voted for him twice. Funny how this works, huh?

Oct. 25th, 2016 02:13 pm (UTC)
Maybe that was the comment from "Captain Bob" that was removed? No loss, judging from the reaction. Still, thank you for passing along this link. With each piece I read, I gain a little more knowledge of just how pervasive and pernicious men's immoral behavior is.
Oct. 25th, 2016 04:17 pm (UTC)
Yes, the comment from Coach Bob was removed by me. Deflection and minimization and implying that somehow Val's voting choices tied into the harassment she wrote about. Coach Bob is just a wee bit of a jerk (not the first comment of his I have removed).
Oct. 25th, 2016 07:26 am (UTC)
Women deal with it ALL their lives
I agree with all of this except the end of paragraph 12. Women have been going through this *all their life, not just their "adult" life.
Some women encounter it as early as childhood who get sexually abused as early as age 5, some as teenagers who get groped in middle school where boys reach up their cheerleading skirts and teachers dismiss their claims, and some nearly 40 who are advancing in their work who are told when working with aggressive, older male businessmen to "be a good girl and listen; stroke his ego".
You writing about your own awareness is a sign of hope for change.
Oct. 25th, 2016 12:56 pm (UTC)
Re: Women deal with it ALL their lives
That's a great point about the 12th paragraph. Thank you for pointing it out. Much appreciated!
Oct. 25th, 2016 04:47 pm (UTC)
Trump sexism
I appreciate it very much that you took the time to think about this and publicly address it. I would say that is a wonderful start.
Oct. 25th, 2016 10:34 pm (UTC)
Re: Trump sexism
Thanks for reading and commenting. You're right: It's a start.
Oct. 27th, 2016 11:41 pm (UTC)
In the weeks that have passed I marvel at our inhuman capacity to accept at face value a woman's ability to be believed when she brings forth a traumatic abusive sexual experience, Immediately her character comes into question further marginalizing her sense of self. In my work I deal with abused children who in many instances are victims of those who should love and protect them. It is hard to look into their soulless eyes and know that their lives are forever changed. In many instances that cycle continues into their teen and adult lives. A colleague of mine who works in domestic violence says that a women often continues that cycle up to 7 timed before the cycle is broken or they are gone. In many of our cultures the mother, the women, is venerated as in Judaism and the Native American culture. When I hear those on the Religious Right say there that there are more important things than a woman's right to exist and choose her destiny, I wonder if they forgot that GOD entrusted his gift to the world, his son, in the blessed womb of a women-Holiday
Oct. 28th, 2016 01:20 am (UTC)
Well said, Holiday. Well said.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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