Normally I don’t use this forum to comment on national events or controversies.
They draw plenty of comment without me.
Besides, San Antonio and Texas offer fertile fields that are much less plowed.
But now comes the release of the extraordinary tape in which Donald Trump is caught celebrating the fact, he says, that as a “star” he can do anything he wants with women without fear of retribution, including grabbing their crotches.
But I’m not here to talk about Trump.
A major segment of the response to him is from male Republican leaders who tell us that as the fathers or grandfathers of daughters, they are shocked and offended by Trump’s comments.
As the father of two daughters in their mid-20s, I feel a need to explain to these men what is wrong with their statements.
First, I hope that I would be just as outraged if I were childless or the father of sons.
Second, there is more than a hint of chivalry in the statements, a suggestion that they have special standing to take a position as protectors of young women.
They have no idea.
I suggest that they talk to their daughters or granddaughters about the world in which they live.
I asked my daughters to list for me some Trumpian incidents they had experienced.
They were pleased to do so.
I’m afraid I have time for only a small sample.
One was groped at the age of 8 on the playground by three older boys.
They said, “Show me yours and I’ll show you mine,” and pulled up her dress.
She was too scared to tell anyone.
At the age of 12 a man in his late 20s found her in the stacks at the library.
He kissed her on the lips.
She ran away and hid behind the circulations desk.
“I didn’t freak out until that night,” she says.
At the age of 19 she was groped by a man on a long plane ride who was masturbating.
She still kicks herself for not calling the flight attendant.
If you find yourself criticizing her for that, you are blaming the victim.
She has, several times, had men refuse to leave her college dorm room or her apartment when she asked them to.
“It led in one case to sleeping somewhere else, and in another to threatening him a tiny bit with a kitchen knife,” she says.
My other daughter offers evidence that it’s not only American men.
She attended college and graduate school in Great Britain and traveled widely in Europe.
She now lives in New York, where she says getting pawed in crowded bars is inescapable.
“Only recently have I gotten the courage to start telling bouncers about problematic men,” she says. “It feels so normal that I regularly forget that I can get a guy kicked out of a bar for grabbing my butt or putting his hand up my skirt.”
Once in a London pub a young man grabbed her buttocks.
When she loudly chastised him, he said, “You know, most women would take that as a compliment.”
Then there was this: “I was much more aggressively assaulted by a grown man in a club in 2013 — in the way that Trump so charmingly described.”
And two weeks ago, this: “I was on the subway and fell asleep briefly, waking up to a man staring at my face with his hand high on my thigh.
I instinctively elbowed him hard and got off at the next stop.
But no one on the train car even blinked an eye.”
All their girlfriends have similar stories or worse.
In other words, the issue is much bigger than Donald Trump and his Mad Men notion of reality.
What to do about it?
As I say, the first thing is to talk to your daughters and granddaughters.
I think you’ll find that they, like my daughters, have given a lot of thought to the matter.
But I would sure appreciate hearing this from some of our political leaders, both Republican and Democrat:
As the father of sons, I pledge that should I ever hear of them saying or acting in any way approaching what Mr. Trump dismisses as locker-room talk, I will make sure that they inherit not one penny from the millions I expect to make as a lobbyist or making speeches when I leave office.
Not one penny!