By Barry Lord
Last week was extremely depressing, particularly if you are a male because whether we like it or not Donald Trump is a man who is running for president despite showing he is a complete and utter misogynist.
For his detractors, the lewd, crass and downright boorish comments of Donald Trump, recorded in secret 11 years ago and leaked to the press, offered further proof of his unsuitability to be the next incumbent of the Oval Office.
For me, as a man, the remarks were wretched and distasteful; the kind of lines that may come from the pen of a Hollywood screenwriter who wanted to make a character as pig headed and chauvinistic as possible.
What was equally unsavoury – not to mention hypocritical – was the defence of these comments and tiresome ‘whataboutery’ employed by Trump’s numerous supporters, many of whom are women – among them former lieutenant governor of New York, Betsy McCaughey, pundit Scottie Nell Hughes and Britain’s own political agitator and former The Apprentice star Katie Hopkins.
On any other day with any other candidate, particularly a rival candidate, these people would (rightly) be condemnatory in their assessment of such blatant misogyny, but in this instance the man in the dock is on their ticket so they take a different view; they make allowances.
As Jimmy Rabbitte, the fictional manager of The Commitments said of Mickah the band’s new roadie “I know he’s a savage, but he’s our savage.”
So from this came the perception that this was mere ‘locker room’ talk, all ‘lads together’ banter and the stuff that every man indulges in when no one is standing round with a tape recorder.
I may not have hung around many locker rooms for a while (my gym membership ran out last Christmas.) But I’ve never heard anything on a par with Trump’s words in any locker room I’ve visited over the years. The worst thing I heard was a fellow user’s description of the defective toaster he’d just bought.
But the depressing aspect of this sorry story was the seemingly casual acceptance in the wider media, among male commentators, that this kind of behaviour is the norm; that vulgar displays of male prowess were simply part of modern male etiquette. Well, they’re not. And men in a position to do so should be making a more positive case for their sex.
Not for a second am I suggesting that all men are angels. Unfortunately, plenty do indulge their inner alpha male in the workplace, in the street, in night clubs and pubs, in the home, sometimes with dire – indeed criminal – consequences.
But the Trump story feeds into a media perception of the man who acts without scruples, without fear of consequence or reprisal.
The truth is there are plenty of men – particularly young men – who are confused about their role in the world (sadly, these appear to be the ones who identify with Trump). Men who do not walk with Trump’s swagger or carry his ill-judged take on the female sex. Men who struggle to achieve the financial rewards of their peers, who are not where they feel they should be in life, or have the ‘respect’ that many of their generation believe is a birth right.
In fact there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the failure to attain these high ideals is leading men to suffer increasingly from issues such as depression, chronic insecurity and body dysmorphia.
So men feel increasingly beaten down when views such as those expressed by Trump supporters are given credence.
We look for these views to be challenged but often they are not. And this has to change. Time for the good men to speak up.