Yesterday, modern-day wise woman Jill Soloway penned an insightful op-ed for Time in response to last week’s disturbing Trump tape, in which the GOP candidate talked about groping women with Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush. The patriarchy-toppling Transparent showrunner excels at bridging the gap between the sometimes inaccessible world of academic feminist theory and mainstream culture, and here, she goes deep on the problems with dismissing Trump’s words as “locker-room talk.”
Soloway anchors her argument in men’s tendency to objectify women, no matter how they view them. Some women are elevated as good women; these are “the women who get the rings, or are related to the man.” On the other side are the bad women, the ones who are acceptable to degrade. “They belong to no one, they are not property, so they become the ones men get to talk about with other men,” Soloway explains.
The proverbial “locker room” is a space where men are free to talk about this second, degraded category of women, while leaving the good women out of it.
As women, Soloway writes:
“We internalize this divide. Women call other women these names because women are unknowingly following a map about access, a how-to manual once offered as a way to live but more recently exposed as a map to gaining access to power. Patriarchy yells loudly and whispers subtly — constantly — that ladies, you really really wanna be one of the ones held aloft, if you want to be safe. Because no one in the locker room is talking about the legs or asses or pussies of another man’s wife, daughters or mothers.”
Which is exactly the problem when men like Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, and Ted Cruz condemn Trump on behalf of their “wives and daughters,” or call out for women to be “championed and revered” (as Paul Ryan did).
“We don’t want to be revered, because that still places us on one or the other half of the divide. We get it — we are only revered in relation to our ability to impress you, to earn status through positive performance ratings from you. It’s hard for us to stomp and strut and take space when we’re teetering on the tiny real estate that is a pedestal.”
Read the full essay, which smartly connects Trump’s comments to intersectional issues of race and trans rights, here.