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Karl Th. Birgisson 09/10/2016

Trump is not an exception. He is the norm

Why are Americans so surprised and appalled at Donald Trump´s misogynistic comments and behavior?donald-trump

I´m not American. I´m not surprised. Nor am I appalled.

I stopped being so some thirty years ago.

Let me add as a means of explaining: I had the privilege of attending a great college in the Midwest some years back. There was, however, a curious anomaly in the social life of students. Almost all of it revolved around a ´Greek´ seperation of the sexes, in fraternities and sororities.

For eighteen-year-olds fresh out of high school, most having lived rather sheltered lives in a mainly Christian and very traditional culture where a woman´s place had been well defined for centuries, the sexist attitudes and sometimes extreme homophobia of the Greek system of social life perhaps did not help develop a healthy outlook for a more advantageous relationship of the sexes.

Am I being too polite here? Oh, absoutely.

Social life at my college reflected the American tradition.

In the conventional American male culture, grabbing a woman´s pussy was accepted behavior. Treating women as objects and subjects was not just the norm, but those who objected to such actions and wisdom were frowned upon, labelled as radical feminists or–god forbid and even worse–faggots to be beaten up at the earliest opportunity.

More painfully, too many American women accepted this as their lot. Sadly, too many of them looked at themselves first and foremost as child-bearers, home-makers and cooks.

Men were seen primarily as providers of income and sperm.

At my college, a grab of a woman´s private parts might have produced surprise and a blush on her behalf. And quite a bit of giggling afterwards at the sorority. ´Oh, boy, he must have had too many beers´. (More nervous giggles.)

I know that I don´t have to elaborate on this point for my American readers. We all know the types, and we all know how prevalent they still are.

And guess what? Nothing has changed.

Well, almost. Blessedly, Americans have mostly stopped punishing people for loving each other based on their gender. That is indeed a great leap.

Also, American women have slowly but surely recognized and asserted their rights as equals to men. As Hillary put it (dare I mention her?): Women´s rights are human rights.

However–and this is an important caveat–, American culture and tradition remain largely the same: Men are dominant. Women are secondary, almost not too be seen and preferably only heard when spoken to.

I´m not exaggerating. The exceptions to this condition are few and far between. And the women providing them are mainly the ones who have learned to accept and conform to the old system dominated by men. (Dare I mention Hillary?)

In terms of American culture, sports are probably the clearest case in point. Could we imagine male cheerleaders in shorts dancing and waving to spur on the supporters of our women´s basketball team?

If they did, would we laugh out of ridicule or cry because of the sad spectacle?

It is, of course, by no means solely an American problem. It´s universal and in some places much worse than in the United States. It just so happens that we have a live specimen of the locker room gorilla running for U.S. president these days.

And I suspect that the outrage expressed over Trump´s comments and behavior may be less due to their nature, but more because he drew back the curtain and gave us a rare glimpse into the world that the ostensibly offended ones would prefer to be kept private in the country club and on the golf course.

It´s the old boys club. We´ve done this for centuries.

But while we keep piling more indignities onto the heap proving what a pathetic example of Homo Americanus Donald Trump obviously is, perhaps we should look a bit further.

Imagine a guy (or a gal) with similar opinions as Trump´s, the same outlook on life, same underlying racist and sexist attitudes, the same simplistic mongering and baiting of primitve impulses and ignorance.

Imagine that guy. Just not as vulgar. Not so ridiculously obnoxious. Eloquent. Charming even. With hair that one could perhaps understand.

There´s your next president.

Personally, I would be saddened.

Appalled? Maybe. Surprised? Not one bit.