Of Traffic and Trump

Some preliminary thoughts….

Of Traffic and Trump

Debate hangover abating, but slowly. I woke up thinking of Claude Levi-Strauss’s classic work on the exchange of women and alliance theory, and how Gayle Rubin reworked his male-dominant-yet-oblivious-to-gender model. In her classic The Traffic in Women, Rubin argues that within capitalist patriarchy, women are the currency — the commodities or objects exchanged — as men negotiate their relationships with one another and jockey for position within a male dominated hierarchy.  To quote Rubin, “If it is women who are being transacted, then, it is the men who give and take them who are linked, the woman being a conduit of a relationship rather than a partner to it.”

Segue to Trump’s lewd conversation with Billy Bush and on to Trump lining up four of “Bill’s Women” prior to the debate with hopes of positioning them among his supporters at the subsequent town hall meeting.  Who is really the audience for this “locker room banter” and offensive discussion of which male has access, rightfully or wrongfully, to a woman’s body? And what does it mean when well-intentioned men denounce Trump, offended for their wives/daughters/mothers/sisters?  It ends up being all about men. Women and access to them is patrolled by men in an effort to assert their position within a hierarchy of other men.  Who gets to make the sexually aggressive remarks and moves becomes a game of, well, which male trumps the other while the women and their bodies are the medium through which this elaborate cock fight occurs.

And the visuals from last night? Many have already tweeted about this and I agree with the stalking imagery. I also note the unspoken aggression that kept Trump erect throughout the debate (sorry, but it is all so phallic that I will not feign resistance to the temptations of language).  The predator moving from side to side, always in the frame, always shadowing his target before he pounces.  Only a rich white male could get away with that posture last night. Imagine if he had been an African-American man prowling and scowling behind a white woman?  Again, men jockeying for position with other males: class, color and masculinity converge. Rich and white trumps…well, pretty much everyone else it seems.

And for those good, decent men who do not speak or act this way, and might attempt to intervene to express their disapproval when other men begin the verbal sparring and the cock fight?  I know you pay a price for “not being a good sport,” for “not being one of the guys,” for being — I bet you have heard this a few times — a “wimp” who has been “pussywhipped.”

The take away from all of this? Power and privilege do not cede of their own accord. Make some noise. Get out and vote.

4 responses to “Of Traffic and Trump”

  1. Oct2016 Avatar

    I was STALKED, TORMENTED & LIED about by a current Tufts Assoc Dean while he was at another school. I informed a couple of people at TU about his severe & outrageous misconduct but one person gave me a laundry list of reasons why they couldn’t do anything, after they told me it was my “subjective opinion” (which echoes his very identifiable slippery, misleading language). I drafted an extensive proof – matching his behavior to Anti-Harassment policy criteria & posted it online. He is a pathological liar & it was an openly discussed problem among students. He worked to sabotage students & professors alike. Any suggestions?

    His doctorate was in anthropology (Yale?) and I am highly suspicious that he had serious problems during his program as well.

    1. kimberlytheidon Avatar

      I am very sorry to hear about the terrible experiences you have described. I am at the Fletcher School, and have been impressed with the seriousness with which they address these issues. I encourage you to contact the Tufts’ Office of Equal Opportunity [http://oeo.tufts.edu/tufts-university-title-ix-liaisons/] and speak with them about this situation. I wish you the best.

      1. Oct2016 Avatar

        Thank you very much for your counsel and your willingness to speak up about violence against women. I did contact them but I found their response too mild and, in my opinion, insufficient given the aggravated nature of his abuse. I am disappointed that “bullying / harassment” is still largely a foreign concept, allowing it to fly under the radar & go unpunished.

        Safe at Hopkins, University of Louisville & Dartmouth Anti-Bullying policy outlines his character & pattern of deceptive behaviors perfectly. I found another Tufts professor, Nassir Ghaemi, who is also familiar with the topic or workplace ‘bullying.’

        Again, thank you.

  2. kimberlytheidon Avatar

    You have raised an very important issue and one that calls for much more discussion. To date the focus of campus sexual assault and harassment prevention measures has been on students as perpetrators against other students. We need to broaden the conversation to include professorial sexual misconduct, a problem on many campuses.

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