ALL women should be treated with respect.
In an audio tape of hot mic footage from Access Hollywood, Republican candidate for president Donald J. Trump said, "I'm automatically attracted to beautiful [women]—I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything ... Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything."
Donald Trump is now in damage control mode, but it may be too late. Many prominent Republicans who supported Trump previous to this have now publicly stated their disgust and have turned their backs on the self-proclaimed sexual assailant who would be president.
Their statements are against Trump's foul and dangerous behavior. But the way they are talking about Trump's words and deeds is problemmatic. Rather than simply denouncing Trump's behavior, each politician has tried to explain why they care.
New Jersey Rep. Scott Garrett said “I am appalled that he would brag about violating a woman's physical boundaries. As a husband and father of two daughters, I denounce his comments and the behavior that it incites."
Michigan Rep. Fred Upton said, "It's outrageous. It's a new low. As a husband and father I feel sickened."
Even Donald Trump's own running mate Mike Pence said, "As a husband and father, I was offended by the words and actions described by Donald Trump in the eleven-year-old video released yesterday. I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them."
At first, I was simply relieved that so many prominent voices were speaking up. If Billy Bush could be suspended from his job over the comments he and Trump made on that audio tape, it's ridiculous to imagine how Donald Trump may end up rewarded with the presidency.
But then I looked a little bit more closely. Each of those defenses I shared above have something in common, something that sat ill in my stomach, something that set my teeth on edge.
Many of the men standing up against Donald Trump invoke the fact that they are fathers and husbands. They mention their daughters, their wives. But the truth of the matter is that you shouldn't have to be married to a woman, or be a father to one, to care about how they are treated.
It doesn't matter that I have a father. It doesn't matter that I'm a sister. It matters that I am a person and no person should ever be assaulted. That's it. End of story.
That should be enough.
The fact that we still live in a world where men have to even remotely explain why they are able to empathize with the feelings of another person (because that person happens to be a woman) is actually a little bit unhinged.
I don't care if Trump's words bothered you because you share a bed with a woman. I only care that they bother you.
You shouldn't have to explain to us or to anyone else to explain the WHY behind your reasons for caring.
You care because another person was torn down, another person was victimized, another person was hurt or mistreated. The fact that this person doesn't share your gender doesn't mean anything at all.
Actually, it does matter, but not in the way people mostly think.
Men have a great opportunity to here to be allies for the women (all those mothers, and wives, and daughters) they care about. Instead of saying you don't condone the behavior, instead of just calling it ugly, talk about why it's dangerous. Talk about why it's dangerous for all of us, regardless of our gender.
Rape culture is a very real problem. Acknowledging the humanity of a woman before her femaleness might be the first big step towards true equality.