As anyone who is the parent of multiple children can tell you, the issues you face with one child will never be the same as the issues you face with another. This is even true of identical twins. (There is no copy/paste option when it comes to parenting.) This, for the most part, is a good thing. And then, sometimes, it is just depressing—depressing, because even though you know that there are certain issues some of your children will be exempted from, the reasons behind those exemptions are almost as soul-crushing as the issue itself. I am speaking, of course, of “pussygate”, or, as the conversation has been trending amongst adult women everywhere, “the first time some random dude grabbed me.”
Me, I was twelve, and it was at the State Fair. He was pretty old (so old in fact that his hand shook with a sort of a palsy while he did it), and so I never felt physically threatened. What I did feel, however, was shock. Shock, because, up until that very moment, I had believed that I was real.
We had been speaking, this old man and I, about something trivial and innocuous, the sort of conversations you are taught to endure with boring old people from the moment you can talk. And I thought that was all this was. Right up until the moment when he reached out and Trump grabbed me, and I suddenly realized that the entire boring conversation had just been a pretext to sidle closer and make a grab for the part of the thing that had really interested him. As opposed to the part of the thing that had been talking.
Because that’s how it felt: it felt as if, in this man’s eyes, I was just a livelier, cheaper version of a blow-up doll. There’s a reason it’s called objectification.
I’m almost positive that my son, Clyde, will never have to experience this. Jut as I am equally positive that my daughter, Clementine, will. (And if I am wrong, and the reverse is true, this will not be progress, in the same way it is not progress to make the life spans of 1st and 3rd world countries more evenly matched by lowering those of the people in the former.)
It is hard to explain exactly what it feels like when you first come to the realization that to some people you are not quite as “real” as they are. The closest I can get is to tell you to go watch the scene in “Blade Runner” where Rachael first realizes she is a replicant, and then watch it again and again and again.
But even so, movies just mirror the feelings we experience in real life; there is no substitute for actually living it. And half of the world’s population has already lived it anyway. But here’s the thing: even though half of the world’s population has almost certainly been on the “grabbed” side of the equation, the reverse is not also true. The other half of the world hasn’t been the ones doing the grabbing. In fact, I think the numbers are probably pretty low: another case of us against the 1%.
So what do we do? Do we have sit-ins? Occupy men’s restrooms the way we once occupied Wall Street? Well, maybe (but I hope not). Or maybe we just make sure the 99% of us who are not doing the grabbing call out the ones who do, or the ones who brag about it. Call them out and then publicly shun them—on the street and in the locker room.
And most certainly in the voting booth. Until, eventually, they, too will know what it’s like to suddenly find out that, to some people, you just aren’t quite real.