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Dear Little Bobby,
We have a full-blown misogynist running for president right now. Donald Trump’s woman-hating statements and actions sicken me and the worse he acts, the more some people seem to support him. This is really scary for me and my daughters. What are some ways that we can combat this? I want to feel safe and respected in my country.
—Girl Power Now!
Dear Girl Power Now!
Unfortunately this recent national conversation about misogyny is centuries overdue. Of course many of the same people who say that racism is over have said that we have moved past sexism as well—even as I just read that Donald Trump Jr. said to women who do not want to be harassed at work: “Like, you should go maybe teach kindergarten.” Then again, he kills elephants for sport, which could not be a more symbolic representation of what he and Trump Sr. are currently doing to the Republican party.
I looked back at my life of male privilege, and I had to admit how much of my life had been spent objectifying women.
As a man, my view of this sexism is that more men need to admit that they have been guilty of this very pervasive misogyny. There is a prejudice against women which is so ingrained in this society that many of us are not even aware of it. Even some women do not notice when they are perpetuating it. But to be clear, this is largely a male problem, just in terms of numbers alone. Men have long held the reins of power, and have frequently misused that power.
I was mostly raised by a single mother. I grew up knowing her power and strength first-hand. She and I also survived domestic abuse in at least one of her marriages. She was physically and emotionally abused. As a 10-year-old I was also emotionally abused by having to witness the abuse towards her. As a result, it seemed only natural to me that I grew up abhorring violence towards women. Even with all of the fights I have had with girlfriends (ahem…red flag?), I never once wanted to hit or physically harm them. So throughout my 20s I patted myself on my back for how “enlightened” I was.
In my 30s, however, I hit an emotional rock-bottom when I slept around one too many times and hurt a young lady whom I cared about very much. I realized that misogyny comes in many forms and I looked back at my life of male privilege, and I had to admit how much of my life had been spent objectifying women. Like many men I spent a lot of time focused on trying to get what I thought I wanted, and far too often I was successful in getting what I thought I wanted. But all I ended up with was a lonely life, and more than enough guilt and anger to go around.
Looking at my life, I decided many things needed to change and I began trying to make those changes. This is the reflection and conversation which we need to have as a country, with ourselves and with each other. My favorite mental exercise for this is to try treating each living thing as my mother from a past (or future) life. Even if you do not believe in reincarnation, this can be one of the best ways to develop compassion for others. Even gross old white millionaires who pretend to be billionaires…EVEN THEY deserve our compassion.
I know it is hard because sometimes I want to hate Trump too, for acting like a human underwear stain, but even he had a mother. She deserves for us to not hate him. That is the only way we can make progress as a country and as a species. We can treat everyone as equals, guarantee equal pay, protect a woman’s right to choose, eliminate rape culture, raise respectful children and so much more that needs to be done—BUT we cannot toss these hateful fools aside with anger. We would be wise to extend a hand to them, to help them.
Maybe they have never been shown differently. Maybe Trump was raised by a KKK-loving racist father (he was). Maybe his grandfather hated the government, dodged the draft and ran illegal brothels (he did). I know I hated that abusive step-father of mine. I held onto that anger into my adulthood and I acted on it far too often. I even hurt the women in my life as a result, thereby perpetuating the same cycle that I was trying to avoid. And I did it without raising a hand to hurt anyone. A raised voice can be just as harmful. I know we can do better as a society. But we must start by trying to be better individuals.
—Little Bobby Tucker
“Woman, please let me explain, I never meant to cause you sorrow or pain,
So let me tell you again and again and again…I love you, now and forever,” —John Lennon “Woman,” 1980