Billy Bush and Trump were recorded sounding like virgins in a high school locker room. The thing is—Bush was 34 at the time of the incident and Trump was 59, yet Little Billy is claiming he was a lot younger and immature during the recording? Okay. In the recording Trump basically admitted that he sexually assaults women on occasion, and Billy was mostly caught looking like an undersexed beta male, compensating for his lack. It’s vile, but I can almost guarantee that these men will come out okay, because at the end of the day they’ll still be rich white men.
It really would be one thing if this incident was isolated, and the apology from Trump was genuine. But Trump responded that it was “locker room banter,” and that Bill Clinton has said far worse to him on the golf course, serving up the typical narcissist apology, “I apologize if anyone was offended.”
Women might not always be subject to the explicit language Trump and Bush exhibited, but we’re all too familiar with the feeling of that lecherousness. Every day I encounter a man making an offensive joke in passing, or staring at my body like it’s an exhibit, or trying to pull a smile from me like it’s my duty to be kind.
It’s almost upsetting that these men can move on from this, when Native women have to account for every transgression we make. We’re judged on our past, our potential futures, and the statistics we bear as reminders, that if we make it out okay, we’re an anomaly, and then we get to carry the burden of survivor’s guilt. Our lives are full and worthwhile, but not without their share of burdens.
This Trump audio came just as I was in the midst of responding to a sexist podcast hosted by Gyasi Ross. In his show, “Breakdances With Wolves,” Ross posed hypotheticals, like, would his guest rub sun tan lotion on Hillary’s back to get an issue he cared about on the dais. They talked about her wrinkled back, possible Botox, and then closed the discussion on the note that one of them would “**** the dog out of her if it meant getting a topic on the debate. They move on to talking about a young actress who stood in solidarity with Native people in protest. One commented that the woman was too frail, and that she should thicken up.
It would be one thing if I was just eavesdropping on two men being jocular at a lunch table, or at some party, but this is a man who considers himself a “young elder.” There have always been men who consider themselves activists, while simultaneously reinforcing a weird, compulsory heterosexuality and male power. And, frankly, Ross’s transgressions pale in comparison to Trump’s. I can guarantee at the end of the day these men will push forward.
Ross issued a public apology and seems to be striving to create a more inclusive podcast, but I always wonder if people are chagrined and apologetic only because they got caught or called out? Can a person who sexualizes random women, politicians, and the like really be down for women? These apologies seem so mild compared to the sheer excitement these men display as they’re disrespecting women. Women don’t need to be placated to as much as they need real respect.
Native women are out here with the knowledge that we are more likely to be victims of physical and sexual assault. The jokes and that laughter, and that permissive egging on is the reason why women don’t feel comfortable walking across parking lots alone. I’m asking for something simple: regard women as autonomous human beings in every-day discourse. Spare us your locker room talk, because it’s juvenile and you’re no kid.
Terese Marie Mailhot is from Seabird Island Band. She is the Saturday Editor at The Rumpus and writes essays. Her work has been featured in The Offing, Feminist Wire, BOAAT, and Yellow Medicine Review.