Since the leak of the Access Hollywood video in which Donald Trump brags about sexual assault, Trump has insisted it was benign “locker room talk” he was having with Billy Bush. But our friend, author John Weir, posted to his Facebook page yesterday about how this kind of talk “aimed most directly and traumatically at women, is also a strategy for monitoring and intimidating men.” Weir is the award-winning author of The Irreversible Decline of Eddie Socket and What I Did Wrong and has let us republish the post here.
Adolescent locker room talk! The talk I remember from high school locker rooms was, “Why are you such a fag?”
The icky back-and-forth between Bush & Trump was, firstly, not in a locker room but a tour bus hired by *Access Hollywood* for the 2005 month-long “Access Across America” tour; and Trump was on the bus because he was headed to the Burbank Warners studio to do a guest shot on *Days of Our Lives*, a stunt promo for his own show, *The Apprentice*.
He and Billy Bush (co-anchor of *AH*) were miked and surrounded by TV tekkies and grips and handlers, headed for a staged meet-&-greet with Arianne Zucker, *Days of Our Lives* cast member.
They were miked. Bush was pumping up Trump for a performance. The performance was: shoot footage of two guys being sexually icky and “suggestive” to a TV actress.
So it was not just an instance of rape culture, it was a staging of that instance, rape culture choreographed and recorded for the delectation of the audience at home. And saved for posterity.
Everyone involved knew the conversation was being recorded and potentially aired on TV. That was the point of the conversation.
The tape has two acts: audio of the unseen guys over a visual of the bus. Then the bus pulls up, a bunch of guys get out, Trump emerges, and the video and audio merge in the staged scene of Bush directing – ordering? – Zucker to hug Trump, etc.
So you have a lot of white guys sitting around on a tour bus talking, reminiscing about their past sexual aggressions, planning their upcoming sexual aggression; and then they get off the bus and there is footage of that aggression.
It was not as violent as gang rape, but it stuck to standard scenarios of how gang rape is represented in innumerable movies and novels and TV shows produced and written and directed by men; and it was sexual harassment.
Watching it – only once – I thought about how, since I hit puberty (I’m 57 years old), I’ve repeatedly been in social situations – not locker rooms! *living* rooms – where one man, or a group of men, whom I have just met, whom I am “getting to know,” has/have said stuff about women not so different from what Trump said to Bush.
It is, indeed, inevitable, that conversation: I walk into a room of men I don’t know, and sooner or later, one of them turns to me and makes a sexual comment about a woman or all women. Not like, “She’s hot!” But more like Trump saying, “I moved on her like a bitch.”
I’m a gay guy, and I’m talking here – I assume! – about straight men. Straight guys are constantly policing each other’s heterosexuality, even still, and they want to know, as quickly as possible, whether or not the new guy is a fag.
They also want to assure each other, and you, that they are not fags.
Sometimes, they’re hoping you *are* a fag, and later, when the two of you are alone, they’ll let you know they’re, wink wink, “open to that.”
It sounds like I’m talking about the 1950s, but this has happened to me throughout my teenage and adult life and even recently, in 2016, when I’m pushing 60, and not just openly gay, but openly GAY.
Maybe guys these days are more likely to go home and google you. Not the guys I’ve met, though.
Talking sexually aggressive trash about women is how straight men warn you not to be gay. It’s one of the reasons they talk to each other about sexually harassing women.
I have responded differently to this conversation at different times in my life. Sometimes, it’s clear to me that I’m not safe being gay around these guys, and I say nothing. Sometimes I know they’re not bashers, and I try to mock them or joke them out of their rapey deplorability. Sometimes they *want* me to say I’m gay, so they can ask me all the standard questions: How did you know? Are you a pitcher or a catcher? What if I told you how good it feels to have your dick in there? Can you pass that up?
Mostly, I feel deeply unsafe around these conversations, and I keep my mouth shut, or mutter something unintelligible, or shrug, or walk away, if that’s possible.
I’m not talking about “out-of-work white guys who have lost everything,” and are presumably voting for Trump. I’m talking about teenage and adult men age 12 to 80, across classes and races and regions, over the past 45 years.
So Trump’s abusive masculinity, aimed most directly and traumatically at women, is also a strategy for monitoring and intimidating men.
And men who say they’ve never heard any men talk like that, or that it was just, you know, “adolescent play,” are maybe the same guys who don’t remember, would deny, bashing fags and dykes – physically, verbally – in high school.
John Weir is the author of two novels, What I Did Wrong and The Irreversible Decline of Eddie Socket. This was initially published on his Facebook page.
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