“It’s just talk.”
See, the problem is that we talk about what we think is ok to talk about.
Sure, there is the expectation that conversations held in the company of friends or close associates may be more candid than pronouncements made from a podium, though that line seems to have been crossed as well, but what we say and the way we say it defines who we are. We present our character in the things we choose to say, which is not to argue that in the heat of a moment we might speak more candidly than we do after calm reflection but which does suggest that what comes to mind is what is in our mind.
“Everyone says things like that.” Except they don’t.
Look, we are flawed, we are human, susceptible to every instinct that has motivated humans for a very long time. It is likely that men and women will objectify, hormones being hormones and reproductive impulse still strong in the species, but giving voice to that objectification implies that the objectifier has the right to express a judgment about a person as an object. Should that objectification be cast broadly, however, the statement moves from thoroughly unfortunate insensitivity to meditated irresponsibility.
So, to introduce the most discomfiting analog I can imagine, it’s one thing to inform the locker room that a teammate’s mom is hot, and quite another to post that sentiment on facebook.
There is a quantitative leap, though, from that sort of objectification to broadcasting the specific acts to be carried out upon the objectified person. At the next level, boasting about one’s ability to carry out unwanted actions, citing examples of previous unwanted assaults carried out with impunity, talk is surely not just talk.
It is a confession.
It is disturbing that a significant proportion of the voting public in the United States appears not to find the Trump video important in selecting a President; for them, apparently he offers a longed anticipated escape from a system that is frustrating and complex. And so, we are visitors to a Bizarro universe, a topsy-turvy, Alice-In-Wonderland landscape in which fact and fiction are interchangeable, and observed reality carries less weight than imagined fantasy.
All of that aside, the normalization of language considered deplorable in public forum only months ago allows the most regrettable instincts and actions to flourish unchecked.
Once again moving to examples that should never be raised, consider how the culture would and should respond to these statements:
“I can grab the genitals of any black person I want.”
“I can grab the genitals of any mentally challenged person I want.”
“I can grab the genitals of any disabled person I want.”
Just talk? Really?
If as a culture we don’t respond with the same strength of revulsion to those statements with reference to women, we need to think hard about the bar we set ourselves.