Waiting to pay for my groceries at the market this evening, this guy, stinking of booze, says to my 9-year-old daughter, "Sweetheart, can you put the divider thing there for me?" First, why is some leering grown man calling my child "sweetheart"? He then thumps two huge bottles of vodka down on the belt. I move closer to my daughter; he then reaches his hand over me and wraps his hand around her arm, saying, "Now, you be nice to your Mommy, sweetie." I pluck his hand off. "Do not touch my child," I say. My other hand is pressed against my daughter's ribs, and I can feel her heart POUNDING. "You have a beautiful daughter," he says. The cashier, whom we know, a guy, looks at me, eyebrows up. I roll my eyes. So pissed. We leave. "I hated that man," my daughter says once we get in the car. "He smelled bad. I wanted to hit him. If anyone ever does that to me again, I'm going to scream." Here we effing go: "Sometimes you have to be hypervigilant," I tell my daughter, "because some gross men out there feel they are entitled to touch us." And then I share my story: "When I was a little girl . . ." I don't even remember the first time it happened to me. I don't remember the last time some pervert rubbed up against me. But that's what you have to deal with when you are a girl. We have to learn to brush this shit off, to make sure that this endless assault course of predators doesn't take one bit of your pride, your confidence, or your sense of peace as you walk through this world. I am so angry.
We should call this the "Trump Talk." The depressing conversation that every parent needs to have with their little girl about revolting, predatory, entitled men. The Trump Talk.
Mother And Daughter Discuss Enraging Realities
I'm sorry about what happened to your daughter at the grocery store—I'm sorry about what was done to your daughter by that entitled asshole at the grocery store—but I'm glad you were there with her when it happened.
The author Kelly Oxford, in response to Donald Trump's horrific comments about sexually assaulting women, called on women to tweet about their first assaults under the hashtag #notokay. Oxford's post went viral—more than a million women responded—and reading through the seemingly endless thread, I was struck by how many women were alone the first time they were assaulted. Oxford herself was alone the first time it happened to her: "Old man on a city bus grabs my 'pussy' and smiles at me. I'm 12."
A lot of women I know, including some very close friends, were your daughter's age the first time it happened to them, MADDER, but they were alone. Tragically, many assumed they had done something wrong, that they had invited this on themselves somehow, and most didn't go to their parents for fear of getting into trouble. And when it inevitably happened again, some became convinced they were indeed to blame, that they were bringing this on themselves somehow, because they thought it wasn't happening to anyone else, just them.
So thank God you were there with your daughter, MADDER, there to pull that asshole's hand off her, there to protect her from worse, and there to help her process the experience. And in that car ride home, you inoculated your daughter with your message (you are a human being, and you have a right to move through this world unmolested) before gross predators could infect her with theirs (you are only an object, and we have a right to touch you). I want to live in a world where this sort of thing doesn't happen to anyone's daughter, MADDER, but until we do: Every little girl should be so lucky as to have a trusted adult standing by ready to intervene when it does happen. I only wish the grocery store clerk had intervened, too.
Regarding your suggestion, MADDER, I've received roughly 10 million emails begging me to do for Donald Trump what I did for Rick Santorum: My readers and I redefined santorum ("the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex"), and some wanted us to do the same for Trump. People even sent in suggestions: trump is the streak of shit a large turd sometimes leaves on the bottom of the toilet bowl; trump is the snot that sometimes runs out of your nose when you're giving a blowjob; a trump is a guy so hopelessly inept in bed that no woman (or man) wants him, no matter how rich he is. The suggested new meanings all struck me as trivial and snarky—and I don't think there's anything trivial about the racism, sexism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and violence that Trump has mainstreamed and normalized, and I'm not inclined to snark about it.
And, besides, "trump" already has a slang meaning: It means "to fart audibly" in Great Britain—and that definition is already in the Oxford English Dictionary. And it frankly didn't seem possible to make Donald Trump's name any more revolting than he already has. If I may paraphrase the amazing letter The New York Times sent to Trump after he demanded they retract a story about the women he's assaulted: Nothing I could say in my sex column could even slightly elevate the feelings of disgust decent people experience whenever they hear his name. Mr. Trump, through his own words and actions, has already redefined his last name.
But then your email arrived, MADDER, and I set aside the column I was already working on to rush your idea into print. Because your suggestion—that parents call the conversation they need to have with their daughters about predatory and entitled men the "Trump Talk"—is just as fitting and apt as the "frothy mixture" definition of santorum. It's not trivial, and it's not snarky. It has gravitas, MADDER, and here's hoping "Trump Talk" isn't just widely adopted, but universally practiced. Because no little girl who gets groped on a bus or in a grocery store or on a subway or in a classroom should ever have to wonder if she did something wrong.
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Big fan, longtime reader and listener, and I need your help. How in the hell can a bipartisan relationship survive this election? Things have gotten so heated that my husband and I recently exploded in an ugly argument. I know I'm not fighting fair—calling him stupid and irresponsible for supporting Trump—and I'm being a shitty partner, and he's being shitty in response by spouting Clinton conspiracy theories. A huge part of it is that he's someone who lives to disagree—a true contrarian—and our current political environment has been like manna from heaven for his sense of humor. What advice do you have? We've been together for ages and have survived other elections and issues. But, as you know, this one's different.
Struggling After Debate
Unlike your husband, SAD, I don't think there's anything funny about Donald Trump. I'm going to enjoy watching him lose the election, and I'm going to enjoy watching his hotels and golf courses go out of business one by one, but our politics and public life have been sickened by the poison that is Donald Trump. It's going to take years for us to recover, SAD, and I just don't see the humor in it. And personally, SAD, I wouldn't be able to climb into bed with someone who was planning to vote for Donald Trump. I would be out the door. But if you can't leave because you love him despite his moral and political bankruptcy, or because leaving isn't an option for you financially, avoid the subject for the next three weeks, don't take whatever bait your husband throws out and try to not gloat too much when Hillary hands Donald his ass on Nov. 8.