Pussy Grabs Back

I would have marked this post as NSFW for language, but looks like the definition of public decency has changed quite a bit over the past couple of days. And I thought that this meme on the interwebs was delightful.

After the recent expose that Donald Trump was caught elaborating on how he grabs women by the pussy, the US news cycle has been dominated by little else. There seems to be much ado about how Republican office-bearers like Paul Ryan and bigwigs like Mitt Romney, McCain and Jeb Bush are withdrawing their support for Trump’s Presidential candidacy.

First, can we PLEASE stop acting like the Trump tape is taking us by surprise, and this overarching sentiment: as if by saying the word “pussy” he appears to have somehow revealed that he is a misogynist. I am genuinely tired of all the pundits acting like he’s now crossed some sort of line. Donald Trump never crossed the line. He has always resided permanently on the other side of the line, in a place where female bodies are the primary source of revenue and enjoyment, a culture which spares no female body from exploitation: physical, visual and public, and something which Donald Trump has never had any qualms bragging about throughout his election campaign. I am therefore nonplussed by and find it hard to take anyone seriously who is surprised by this recent revelation. I am convinced it’s only because the word makes people uncomfortable.

Also, let’s give ourselves a break from acting like these noble Republican leaders are doing a decent thing by denouncing Trump because of his comments. They are the leaders of a party which has consistently supported Supreme Court judges  who are positioned against women’s rights, has used its Legislative strength to block funding for institutions like Planned Parenthood and perpetrated a hateful rhetoric against women’s right to choice, maternal leave and equal pay. That’s how democracy functions, so the people get what they elect. But, please let’s not make Ted Cruz suddenly appear like he’s the one who cares about women. Male politicians, literally or through legislation have always been grabbing pussy.

Donald Trump is threatening to bring up Bill Clinton’s sex scandals against Hillary in the next debate. Most Hillary supporters find it understandably outrageous that she should be dragged down for the sins of her husband.  I would agree, if not for the fact that not once, has Hillary stood by the Cause, when the perpetrator was her husband. The dynamics of their marriage are irrelevant and frankly none of our business. But as a person whose Presidential candidacy has tied itself with feminism, I find her lack of acknowledgement and engagement with her husband’s victims, and her active dismissal of their accounts in the past, are antithetical and insulting to the Cause she espouses. Again, his behaviour does not and should not reflect on her, but she actively chose to stand by it, and more importantly has used his time, public image and words to support her Presidential bid, including Bill Clinton’s romantic speech at the Democratic Convention. Far too many victims of powerful male figures are dismissed and disparaged by their female spouses, to let this one go. This attitude is reflective of an extremely dangerous workplace phenomenon, which Hillary Clinton has failed to address so far. So, she isn’t allowed to be excluded from this narrative.

Nobody, nobody, nobody has come to the podium with clean hands.

Which brings me to why this is relevant to me, as an Indian. As we applaud our central government for its Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign, and celebrate our impending status as a global economic power, thanks to all that development, while simultaneously expressing shock and outrage at how Donald Trump is disgusting, it is important that we remind ourselves of the kind of horrors we have elected back home as well. We’re going to have to seriously examine our own complicity in electing misogynistic politicians across the political spectrum, from all parties. Here’s a sample list of deeply troubling remarks made by our elected representatives, inlcuding our Hon’ble Prime Minister referring to Mr. Shashi Tharoor’s late wife Sunanda Pushkar as a “50-crore girlfriend.” Let’s not even get started on the Women’s Reservation Bill, which still refuses to be passed in our Parliament.

We all need to introspect and decide how much we prioritize the rights of half the population when we vote, in India or the US; and how much pressure we put on our political class to reform itself. If women’s rights keep getting sacrificed at religious and economic altars at every election, they’ll just keep grabbing us by the pussy. Pussy’s got to grab back.

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