Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a town hall-style forum, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016, in Sandown, N.H. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Democrats and their media allies, joined by many Republicans, are calling on Donald Trump to withdraw from the presidential race after a newly released, decade-old tape of a frat-house-level conversation between Trump and television host Billy Bush in 2005, in which Trump boasted of his heavy-handed pursuit of females. Trump describes trying unsuccessfully to seduce a married woman by taking her furniture shopping, speaking in the crudest terms. He brags that because he was a star he could “grab [females] by the pussy” and claims to Bush that he starts kissing beautiful women “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.” Bush eggs him on: “Whatever you want!” (Bush being a more admiring confidante than Leporello to Don Giovanni).
The response has been swift and apocalyptic. Hillary Clinton tweeted: “This is horrific. We cannot allow this man to become president.” Vice Presidential candidate Tim Kaine told reporters: “It makes me sick to my stomach.” Slate’s science editor wrote that “I feel sicker after seeing it than I can remember feeling in a while.” Another Slate columnist writes that Trump and Bush “can’t see their female colleagues as anything but collections of fuckable or unfuckable body parts. They exhibit a complete disregard for women’s humanity, agency, and internal lives.”
Now why might it be that men regard women as sex objects? Surely the ravenous purchase by females of stiletto heels, push-up bras, butt-hugging mini-skirts, plunging necklines, false eyelashes, hair extensions, breast implants, butt implants, lip implants, and mascara, rouge, and lipstick to the tune of billions a year has nothing to do with it. Females would never ever exploit their sexuality to seek attention from men. Bush and Trump, driving to the set of Days of Our Lives on a studio bus, comment on the legs of actress Arianne Zucker who is coming to meet them: “Oh, nice legs, huh?” Trump says. “Your girl’s hot as shit, in the purple,” Bush says. How surprising that Trump and Bush noticed Zucker’s legs! As documented in the video, she is wearing a skimpy purple dress, with an extremely short hem cut on the bias, a low neckline and fully exposed back. She is in high heels to accentuate her bare legs. The ratio of exposed skin between Zucker, on the one hand, and Trump and Bush, on the other, is perhaps 100 to one. But all that bare flesh must simply be because Zucker has a high metabolism and gets exceedingly warm; she would never want to broadcast her sexuality to men or have men notice her. The fact that she swishes her hips when she walks must just be a quirk of anatomy.
When Trump and Bush emerge from the bus, they are the embodiment of jocular decorum—this too counts against them in the eyes of the feminist brigades. WritesSlate’s Susan Matthews: “As if public Donald Trump wasn’t bad enough, this video reminds us that there’s an aspect of the man that’s even worse than what he shows to the public. You see it in the transformation Trump and his conversation partner Billy Bush undergo when they exit the bus and move from [what they assumed was] a private sphere into a public one. They are still committing acts of sexual harassment and abusing their power when they ask the actress who greets them to give each of them a hug. But they’re buttoning up—they know the tone of the conversation they had on the bus cannot be repeated in anything close to a public sphere.” Isn’t this a good thing that Trump in this case at least has obeyed the rules of public behavior? Matthews, we are to believe, would never say anything in private that she would not repeat in the public sphere.
If any of these newfound exponents of female modesty felt any comparable nausea at the blatant display of female sexuality and, dare I say it, “pussy,” in Beyoncé’s acclaimed rock video “Formation,” say, they kept it to themselves. Beyoncé and her female chorus line rhythmically thrust their butts, crotches, and breasts to the camera, while Beyoncé brags of her sexual prowess:
Paparazzi, catch my fly, and my cocky fresh I’m so reckless when I rock my Givenchy dress (stylin’) Oh yeah, baby, oh yeah I, ohhhhh, oh, yes, I like that I did not come to play with you hoes, haha I came to slay, bitch When he fuck me good I take his ass to Red Lobster, cause I slay If he hit it right, I might take him on a flight on my chopper, cause I slay Drop him off at the mall, let him buy some J’s, let him shop up, cause I slay I might get your song played on the radio station, cause I slay
Sounds like a sexual quid pro quo, ripe for a harassment lawsuit. The “Formation” video, which inspired Beyoncé’s Super Bowl halftime performance in January (to another universal swoon from the entertainment industry), also shows a very young girl engaging in some precocious twerking, a grotesque travesty of childhood. No objections to that destruction of the innocence of childhood from the DNC.
President Obama has singled out Beyoncé for praise, and the singer is a big Hillary Clinton supporter, to not a word of protest from Clinton regarding her status as a role model for young girls. Bill Clinton met with Beyoncé and her husband, rapper Jay Z, in September. If Bill or Hillary thinks the lyrics of Jay Z’s “Big Pimpin‘” “horrific,” in Hillary’s words, they are not letting on:
You know I thug em, fuck em, love em, leave em Cause I don’t fuckin need em Take em out the hood, keep em lookin good But I don’t fuckin feed em First time they fuss I’m breezin Talkin bout, “What’s the reasons?” I’m a pimp in every sense of the word, bitch Better trust than believe em In the cut where I keep em til I need a nut, til I need to beat the guts Then it’s, beep beep and I’m pickin em up Let em play with the dick in the truck Many chicks wanna put Jigga fist in cuffs Divorce him and split his bucks Just because you got good head, I’m a break bread so you can be livin it up? Shit I parts with nothin, y’all be frontin Me give my heart to a woman? Not for nothin, never happen.
The Washington Post primly headlined its scoop on Trump’s bus conversation with Bush: “Trump recorded having extremely lewd conversation about women in 2005.” The New York Times’ follow-up story also labelled Trump’s remarks “lewd.” If either of those paper’s critics have ever objected to such lewdness in popular culture, it has escaped attention. Have they objected to college campus sex weeks, which routinely invite porn stars to offer how-to demonstrations on S & M sex? Do they squirm with discomfort when campus administrators pass out tips on the use of sex toys to achieve better orgasms? Not on the record, at least.
Other Hillary Clinton supporters have hardly been shy about exploiting sex to get ahead. Clinton fan Amy Schumer admits: “I have used sex as a marketing tool and it has worked. I mean, my TV show is called Inside Amy Schumer.” This blushing Victorian violet explains: “My whole life I found friends that are just like me, young girls that were just like me, like we were all whores.” During a lace-clad photo shoot for Marie Claire that of course had nothing to do with projecting sexuality, Schumer joked about her sexual exploits: “My best friend would describe me as loyal . . . to the boyfriend I stole from her.” She confesses to a “weakness for orgasms.” Democratic National Convention star, Hillary fan, and pseudo-campus rape victim Lena Dunham has not exactly set herself up as a model of sexual prudence, either, nor has she shrunk from using her promiscuity as a selling point in the entertainment market.
The sudden onset of Victorian vapors among the liberal intelligentsia and political class at the revelation of Trump’s locker-room talk is part and parcel of the Left’s hypocrisy when it comes to feminism and sexual liberation. A routine objection to Trump is that he makes, in the words of the New York Times, “gutter attacks on women.” But why should women be exempt from Trump’s gutter attacks on anyone he wants to humiliate? Trump’s gratuitous nastiness to men and women alike, kicking people when they are down, unfits him to serve as the premier civic role model for the nation’s children. But the feminists can’t have it both ways: declaring that women should be equal to men in all things and then still demand a chivalric deference to female’s delicate sensibilities. Either women are the same as men or they’re not. It is particularly galling to see the selective resurrection of Victorian values from the same crowd that has been pushing transgender locker rooms on the world, in an effort to destroy the last shred of girls’ innate sexual modesty.
This opportunistic, on-again, off-again appearance of traditional sexual values characterizes the campus-rape myth as well. Needless to say, actual sexual assault is both criminal and intolerable. But college co-eds insist on the prerogative of maximal promiscuity at the same time that they revert to the role of helpless damsel in distress, when, after drinking themselves blotto to lower their sexual inhibitions, they regret a boozy hook-up and declare themselves raped. The logic is always that the male was responsible for the female’s well-being; the female cannot help drinking herself to a reckless state. It is for the chivalric male to look out for her.
Following the release of the studio bus tape, Trump said in his defense that Bill Clinton “has said far worse to me on the golf course.” That may be the most credible thing that Trump has ever uttered. But both Republicans and Democrats are fatally compromised in their responses to the Trump tapes, deliberately released right before the make-or-break second presidential debate. Republicans, having flogged the Bill Clinton sex scandals way past any possible point of relevance, are now not well positioned to dismiss these comments (nor are they trying to), though there is a huge difference between the reality TV star Trump bragging about his libido on a studio bus and Bill Clinton exploiting the power of the presidency to seduce a young intern. But Democrats are the most shameless in their outrage over the Trump braggadocio, having dismissed Bill Clinton’s White House and gubernatorial escapades for years, and standing as the party of maximal sexual liberation, unlike the Republicans. The New York Times rejects the relevance of Clinton’s predatory White House behavior on the ground that “Mr. Clinton is not running for president.” But the Times did not find Clinton’s behavior significant when Clinton was in office, either.
Ideally, no man would ever paw a female or push himself on her. The default norm of sexual modesty, coupled with the chivalric ideal that gentlemen should treat females like ladies, used to be the most effective defense against such high-testosterone behavior. Feminism, however, has declared both modesty and chivalry sexist, leaving females to improvise a response to the inevitable excesses of the male sex drive, when they are not trying to leverage it to their own advantage.
The only good thing to come out of this tacky episode may be the jettisoning of the ongoing resurrection of the tired Clinton White House escapades by Trump and his supporters. Otherwise, it stands merely as a reminder of how enduring the stance of offended female virtue is, even in the age of crude sexual exhibitionism.
Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a contributing editor of City Journal, and the author of the New York Times bestseller The War on Cops.