I wrote recently of my locker room experiences as a high school and college athlete as it related to Donald Trump's recent misogynistic comments and subsequent "defense". Although I readily admit that locker rooms filled with testosterone filled young men is not for the faint of heart, I encountered a certain "line" regarding sexual banter that was not crossed. Certainly, young men (as, I believe do young women) have a certain preoccupation with sexual activity. But, that does not HAVE to translate to abusive behavior. I observed that code and most of the young men I played with did, too. However, others may have had different experiences. In fact, I know that they did. I have had enough feedback from others who lived a different reality to believe them. Besides, so-called Rape Culture of which they speak has existed wherever there has been interaction between the sexes - especially at college age. It did then. And, unfortunately, it still does now.
Back to my "gang".
Virtually all of my friends at that time were white, educated, solidly middle class, and, often, without morals or scruples.- at least they were for a time. It was the mid-70's and the culture was one of experience to the point of excess. Drugs and "partying" was a part of the great majority of a young person's existence. The point was, as the Doors urged us to do a decade before, break on through to the other side. In a sense it was perverse. But, at the same time, it was often liberating.
The problem was that the above mentioned liberation often came at the expense of someone else - usually an inebriated young woman.
The fraternity parties at virtually any major university in the Northeast were Bacchanalian rituals that, fueled by alcohol, could rival any perverse ancient ceremony. I think that they stopped just short of human sacrifice. It was like some absurd right of passage. And, the debauchery was not limited to young men. Young women yielded to the power of alcohol and often found themselves in positions that they simply could no longer control. Sensing blood, the predators moved in.
And, the girls paid the price.
When I think back on it now, it makes me sick to my stomach. I can say with complete honesty that I never participated in the debauchery. But, I did witness it and, ultimately, did nothing. This, in many ways, makes me as guilty as those who actively participated. The strange thing is that I ALWAYS knew it was wrong. Yet, I stood back and watched it happened. I could make a million excuses as to why but, in the final analysis, that's all that they would be - excuses. I suppose that the power to belong was stronger than the one to always do the right thing. Keep in mind that hindsight is closer to 20-20 vision than it is at the time it is actually happening. Since I can't go backwards, I must move forward.
With that in mind, I can make the commitment to do more to make people aware of what sexual abuse is, where it can found, what we can AND must do to stop it. Having this conversation is just the first step. W e have the means to make a difference - a real difference. But, we must ACT. We must reject the rhetoric of Mr. Trump and all who support him.
Defy hate. Reject bigotry and sexism. Commit to equality.