Men are aggressive in their pursuit of women. This isn’t sexism, but biology that perpetuates the species. The pursuit would not be possible were it not for physical attraction between the sexes. If any man claims that he has never said to other men – or to himself – “Look at the lovely butt on that women!” he is either lying or gay. The statement is simply extolling a physical feature that makes its possessor desirable – an essential attribute to the mating process. Similarly, I have heard as many women say, “Look at the sexy legs on that guy,” or comment favorably on other male features – all of which objectifies them. The difference is in the more passive behavior of women: we don’t hear of women groping male genitals without invitation.
Much-maligned “locker-room” talk is another example of normal sexuality. Stripped of its crudeness, this talk is rarely at root any more than an elevation of the female body, an expression of desire for it, and the “conquest” of it. The class structure of the locker room may dictate the tone of the conversation, but not its underlying content. And, though I’ve never been in a women’s locker room, I am willing to bet that there is similar talk – however differently nuanced – directed toward men.
Is this “objectification”? Of course it is. But it is both natural and essential. In confronting someone of the opposite sex for the first time – or of the same sex in the case of gay people – the initial response on one level is unconsciously and healthily sexual, and it entails an instantaneous acceptance or rejection of a person we do not yet know – the sex “object.” In most cases, we would probably not want something in particular that we were not already predisposed for in general. Women, like men, also engage in sex with people they hardly know – which, by definition, is “objectification.” Objectification diminishes in proportion to increasing intimacy – the process of getting to know someone as a complex individual distinct from all others. A problem arises when a person is incapable of really knowing another person intimately, and so becomes locked in the initial, objectification stage of a relationship.
Such seems to be the case with Donald Trump, who even referred to his own daughter as “a piece.” His problem is not that he objectifies the opposite sex – we all do – but that he can only objectify it. In fact, Trump objectifies everyone, because there are no real people out there beside himself. His solipsism is so complete that, in place of objective reality, he substitutes one of his own making that, however ludicrous, he thinks will better serve him. His political fantasies that are impossible to fulfill exemplify this. And being alone, he can get away with anything because there’s no one to stop him – as he claimed in the infamous bus tape regarding his uninvited groping of women. How can he possibly elicit a woman’s permission for sexual contact if she is no more than a projection of his desires and, as such, doesn’t really exist as a person separate from him? What I find particularly interesting in Trump’s sexual harassment is that, in my observation, forcing oneself on a woman is the most counterproductive way of achieving a consensual union with her. This makes me question whether union with a woman is what Trump really wants – which, in turn, suggests a whole other can or worms I don’t want to open here.
Trump’s solipsism also frees him from the impulse controls that more developed people have. Our somatic responses may lead us to any number of antisocial behaviors were it not for the impulse-control mechanisms developed in the maturation process. Trump has none of them – and so he violates women at whim, rudely interrupts anyone he’s speaking with, stomps menacingly about a stage in order to command it when it isn’t his, grimaces, mugs, and gesticulates in order to draw attention to himself when another is speaking, and, mired in infantile egocentricity, believes that he can and should always get his way – and tantrums like an infant when he doesn’t. If Trump had lost the election, according to him it would not have been because the public rejected him (which it did by popular vote) – how could it? – but because of systemic malfeasance or malicious betrayal.
Can there be a leader more dangerous than one who knows nothing of the world or himself, because he is so pathologically removed from both?
Newport Daily Express, 10/26/16