The first time I saw it was a Facebook update from a guy I used to work with. We’ve had some heated back and forth on Black Lives Matter, so I didn’t find it too surprising. I decided his point was so ludicrous it didn’t merit a response. Then I saw the argument again from a stranger on Twitter, and I was shocked that two people had reacted by making the same idiotic connection. The third time, from blogger Sandra Rose, was the charm.
Is that really how you want to respond to 59-year-old businessman bragging about how he can assault women with impunity, with “what about the blacks?” It’s a racist lens, brought into the argument by people who accuse black activists of making everything about race. “What kind of world are we living in when a rich white dude gets vilified for saying things poor black kids put in songs to get rich? It’s a double-standard.”*
First, “filthy” rap lyrics are a small percentage of rap on the whole. If you don’t know that, then you don’t know enough to talk about it. Second, you could have picked any number of sexually obscene things for comparison. Pornography comes to mind. Or those self-published ebooks Amazon sells with titles like Bound for Desire. Craigslist personals. Depending on what account, Tumblr, Twitter, Snapchat, or Instagram. Shit, there are obscene rock lyrics… but you singled out rap. Because in your world, there is nothing filthier than a black person’s sexuality. More specifically, a black man‘s sexuality. Because black females are hyper-sexualized in our culture (not to the degree of Latinas or Native women, but still) yet black male sexuality is a threat.
But let’s keep race out of it. Let’s say you saw someone take a shit on the hood of your neighbor’s car and he excused himself by remarking, “All men do this when you’re not looking.” You accept that. You don’t agree with it, necessarily, but you accept it. The person across the street sees the shitter and expresses outrage. You tell the person across the street, “Hey, if you’re so pissed off about the guy taking a shit on our neighbor’s car, how come I’ve never heard you complain about all the shitting that goes on in the world?” Sure, that metaphor sucks. You know what’s worse? Your analogy.
The most frequent argument, from men who condemn what Trump said to Trump himself, is that it’s “locker room talk” that “all men say behind closed doors.” Well, excuse me. I was on the football team in High School and had a gym membership for more than a decade so I have had more locker room time than average, and I have never in my life heard a guy talking about assaulting a girl. Not as a joke, not as a bawdy anecdote, not as a wish unfulfilled. If I had to guess, I’d say the guys calling it “normal” are guys who have said shit like that. Or worse, who have touched women without permission. When guys get together, some feel the need to talk about sex. Graphically. OK, fine. But talking about sex and talking about assault are two different things, and shame on you if you can’t tell the difference.
And of course, no attempt to excuse Donald Trump’s words would be complete without bringing up “political correctness.” Yes, that’s it – what really bothers us about the tape is how inappropriate his remarks are; we’re all such shrinking violets that we blush hearing a man say “pussy.” No, sorry. It’s because Trump is describing sexual assault. Not just sexual assault (is that ever a decent way to phrase it, as “just” sexual assault?) but the sexual assault by a famous man against people on lessor social footings who have little recourse, while Billy Bush giggles along like it’s all such a fucking hoot. That is not a violation of “political correctness.”
That is fucking profane.
*I’ve also seen Fifty Shades of Grey used, as in, “If what Trump said was so bad, then how come Fifty Shades of Grey is so popular?” That is as shit-fuckingly stupid as the rap argument, but I saw the rap argument first so I’m responding to that.