There is still one more chilling but less-discussed aspect of the Trump video. Yes, his language is vulgar, and yes, his casual discussion of sexual assault is horrifying. But two reporters, in separate pieces, point out that there’s something even more disturbing about the video: the way they talked about actress Arianne Zucker, Trump’s costar-to-be, as she waited, unsuspecting, at the end of their bus trip.
But in some ways, the most disturbing moment of the recording transpires when Bush and Trump descend from the bus. Waiting for them is the actress Arianne Zucker of “Days of Our Lives.” On the bus, her hotness has inspired cackles, what sound like high-fives, expletives. Both men have talked about her legs. Trump has already thrown back some Tic Tacs, in case he decides to lunge for a kiss. But when he steps off the bus, Trump greets her with the courtesy of a Boy Scout: “Hello, how are you, hi!”
“Hi, Mr. Trump, how are you?” Zucker says. She is polite; she is professional.
It is a moment of deeply uncomfortable dramatic irony: We, the audience, know something she does not, which is that only moments earlier, Trump was coldly appraising her body parts. Bush, acting as a two-bit pimp, asks Zucker to hug Trump, and then asks for a hug himself. Her small laugh is as fake as Trump’s politeness; it is all excruciating to watch. Then the three of them, now performing, waltz off together. Zucker is game to play along when Bush presses her to answer which of the two men she would pick. “Both!” she finally says.
Maybe Zucker thinks that she is in on the joke. But really, we know, the power is all theirs. It is not just that the two men have erased her as a person, during their conversation on the bus; it is that they share the knowledge that they have done so, silently, collectively, which amplifies their power over her. It is all unspoken, a clubby secret, a male form of control based on exclusion.
After Access Hollywood host Billy Bush and Trump spend a few minutes making lascivious comments about actor Arianne Zucker, they meet the woman they were just objectifying. The woman that Trump — who has just taken some Tic Tacs “just in case I start kissing her” — called “it”.
“How about a little hug for the Donald?” Bush says, smiling. He then asks for his own embrace.
In that moment, Bush and Trump are in on a joke and Zucker is the punchline.
It’s painful to watch not just because Zucker doesn’t know what was said about her, but because this is what women are afraid of. That the men we know, the men we work with — or even love — say horrible things about us. That despite assurances that they respect us and consider us equals, men are secretly winking behind our back. That we are not really people to them, but things.
When women watch that interaction between Trump, Bush and Zucker, they’ll think of the countless times they walked up to a group of jovial men in mid-conversation and felt something in the pit of their stomach. They’ll wonder if their sneaking suspicion was right all along — that they were on the outside, that they were the joke.
The only place where I take issue is Valenti’s assertion that Trump won’t recover from this, because too many women have been “groped and commented on, joked about and made to feel small.” Don’t get me wrong — I hope to God she’s right. She probably is. I couldn’t comfortably live in this world if I thought that such a video wouldn’t be enough to show Trump for who he truly is, and that voters would be willing to put the @realDonaldTrump into office.
But am I certain about that? No, I’m not. And it’s for two reasons. One is the number of men who have agreed with Trump’s dismissal of his comments as “locker room banter” and said that guys talk like that all of the time — whatever’s going on in their locker rooms is not going to result in even a protest vote against Trump. And the other is the number of men who’ve expressed their outrage over the video on the basis of having a mother, and/or a wife, daughter, sister, niece, cousin, beloved elementary school teacher. Don’t get me wrong — if the only way you’re able to relate to women is through direct contact with a certified representative of the gender, I’m just glad you’re able to relate. Being outraged because you have daughters > not being outraged. But being outraged because misogyny is real and is a threat to women’s lives and women are human beings even outside of their custodial males and Trump’s support has dropped just one point since the video came out > outraged because I wouldn’t want him perving on my daughter. And if I were more confident that more of the male electorate didn’t require direct female influence to understand the gravity of Trump’s actions and statements, I’d feel more confident about the outcome of the election in November.
Regardless, here’s an empathy exercise for anyone still on the bubble: The next time you walk into a conference room at work, imagine that your boss and his buddies have just been talking about how much they’d like to beat you down and take your wallet, and how they could get away with it, too. Imagine knowing that they’re probably right. And then imagine all of the other times you’ve walked into that room, and all of the times you’re going to be walking into that room in the future. (#notallbosses, right?) And if even after all of that imagining, you’re still not horrified by the thought of Arianne Zucker standing, waiting for the Access Hollywood bus to greet the man who’s called her “it” and popped a Tic Tac just in case he decided to make a move and is about to greet her with a bright smile and a hug, please consider staying home November 8. And a lot of other days, for that matter. Please consider staying home all days.
(h/t The Daily Kos)
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