Have you heard what he says about women? (I paraphrase.) He's misogynist, sexist, dangerous. He thinks he can grab women by the pussy without consequence. He judges women on their looks. He says mean things about them!I am probably going to lose my feminist credentials here...oh, wait, I don't have any...but I'm not feeling it.
And, yes, I watched The Video. I saw a bus driving into a studio parking lot. I heard a man bragging to another man about trying to make a move on a married woman...by taking her furniture shopping. And confessing how he didn't manage to sleep with her because she was married. I heard a man talking about how beautiful another woman was, and the other man congratulating him, "Donald has scored!" At which the man calls the other man a pussy. I saw several other men get calmly off the bus, clearly professionals going about their jobs. I heard a man say he needed to take a Tic Tac "in case I start kissing her" and bragging about how women throw themselves at him and let him do whatever he wants, even grabbing them by the pussy, and the other man laughing...because (as I hear it) this was clearly a joke. (That is, it doesn't happen, the women don't let him do these things, he is just pretending they do because he is nervous.)
And then I see the two men get out of the bus--without falling, as the man said he was anxious not to--and greet a woman who is a) clearly beautiful (at least by most Hollywood standards) and b) somewhat skimpily dressed even by Hollywood standards without the man a) lunging at her as if drawn by a magnet to kiss her or b) grabbing her by the pussy. In fact, she seems to enjoy bantering with the two men, apparently willingly hugging both of them at the other man's suggestion and offering to walk between the two of them as they make their way through the building. To judge from the way they make sure to stand, all three are clearly aware of being on camera, and it is the other man who prompts her: "Which of us would you want to go out with?" To which she replies: "I'll take both." And at the end of the video, when the woman takes the man off to star with her in the soap opera episode, the other man asks for his microphone back, which the man willingly and without embarrassment (No: "Oh, my God! I forgot about that!") surrenders. In other words, there was nothing secret about the making of this video tape or the recording.
Nor, as I see it, was there anything sexist. The men defer to the woman throughout their encounter with her. She enjoys their attention and (horror of horrors!) flirts with them. If this is sexism, thank God! Men admiring women and wanting to work with them? Men anxious about the impression they are likely to make and worrying whether a woman finds them attractive? Men taking the care to eat a Tic Tac because they don't want to put a woman off with bad breath? A man bragging about trying to seduce a woman...by taking her furniture shopping?! (Pro tip, gentlemen: Couches, not diamonds; they'll get us every time!) Are we to blame the woman for dressing attractively? Or the men for acknowledging, as she clearly wanted them to, that they found her attractive? The whole point of this encounter--the whole point of the video--was to capture on camera the moment when the guest star met his counterpart. Which means they were all acting a part for the sake of the audience. Was the man really nervous about meeting his co-star for the day? Was she really pleased to be working with him? Who knows? This is Hollywood, where everyone lies.
Or do they? It is so hard for those of us sitting at home to know because, truth to tell, we want to be them. Okay, maybe you don't. But I do. Sort of. Okay, not really, but, yes, of course I do. I want to be beautiful enough to have men want to take me out. Okay, no, I don't, I get so nervous when men look at me like that. But, okay, yes, I do. I am so jealous of my sister (as I have written before) for being so much better at the attraction game than I am. I am so used to playing the Ugly Sister, I quite frankly don't know what to do when men tell me they find me attractive. 'Cause I'm not, see? 'Cause if I were, they would flirt with me and banter with me and that would be nice...No, it wouldn't, I'd hate it. What if I didn't like them? How would I be able to say no? They are so confident in themselves that they are attractive...wait...could it be that men get nervous, too? Could it be that in making a move on a woman by, say, taking her furniture shopping, they aren't in fact sure that she is going to say yes? Could it be that they fantasize about women whom they find attractive letting them kiss them, even grabbing intimate parts of their bodies, because in real life they never would? Somebody tell the porn industry, there may be a plot here!
I don't work in film, but my sister does, and to judge from the stories she tells, it is one big orgy 24/7. Okay, that's not quite true. But it is edgy and intimate in a way that most of us (as my sister assures me) never experience, certainly few of us in academia. Good grief, we can barely manage to get dressed in time for class most of the time, never mind put on make-up; we work alone more often than not, and the most excitement that we get on a regular basis is a good discussion once or twice a week in class. In Hollywood, where women are expected to be beautiful to standards that almost nobody can attain, you are judged more relentlessly than the most paranoid graduate student can possibly imagine (we're cowards, that's why we go into academia), because there is actual money on the line. Again, this from my sister, who has regaled me for decades about how expensive it is to do even the most ordinary shoot; once you get the crew together for the day, you have to shoot something, and you aren't going to stop until the shot is in the can. Who on earth would ever want to work in such an industry?
Ahem. Donald Trump judges women by their appearance. He talks about wanting to kiss them. He talks about how beautiful he finds them--or not. He flirts with them and takes them shopping. Does this make him a despicable cad? He dumped his first wife (and, yes, I worry about her divorce testimony), but, hey! So did my father, my sister's husband, my husband (sorry, that is one of my dark secrets, not proud of this one), my aunt (okay, she dumped her first husband, my cousins' father), my neighbor's husband, several of my colleagues' spouses, more Hollywood stars and starlets than it is possible to count; it is practically our national pastime, having affairs and dumping our loved ones. And why? Because we fall in love, find somebody other than our spouse attractive, and have mad, passionate, transgressive sex with them, just like in the movies. 'Cause, of course, we all hate it when somebody cheats in a movie. (I think we actually do hate it; I don't think people like cheating, but they do like the feeling of danger.)
So why are all my women friends afraid of the Donald? Again, I'm not feeling it; I'm simply not. I am pretty much positive that he would not find me attractive, although my guess is, if he met me, he would be polite. But there would be more or less zero chance of his hitting on me. He seems willing to hire women to prominent positions in his organization, so maybe if I wrote something he liked, he might offer me a job, but I doubt very much he would offer to buy me a couch. Does that make him a misogynist? Some of my male friends in my Facebook feed have said some fairly insulting things about my intelligence of late, including friends in academia. It's not my looks, granted, but it still stings. Are they misogynists for disagreeing with me? Or is it just that they disagree with me, regardless of the fact that I am a woman? (Actually, I think some of them are threatened by me, but I don't think it is because I am a woman; rather, my guess is they behave this way with other men as well and I just feel it differently because I am me.) Or maybe it is that I have the opposite of gaydar: I am incapable of detecting misogyny except at its most blatant. If only I were a real princess like the woman in the video; maybe then I could feel the pea.