Donald Trump and the politics of sex
OK guys, it’s time to be honest. How many of us haven’t had the occasional Trump moment in our dealings with the opposite sex? Not at a party? Not even when intoxicated with the exuberance of several pints of Newcastle Brown, or shots of Jack Daniels?
Speaking for myself, I think I can safely say that I have never thrust my tongue down anyone’s throat as the opening gambit of a courtship ritual. Or grabbed their crotch for that matter. Perhaps that’s because I never had the chutzpah – or whatever else you want to call it – to do so. Or perhaps because I’m not the kind of alpha male who considers that all women (or men) are there for the taking.
No, I can relate more easily to men like Jimmy Carter, who once famously declared – during his election campaign – that “I’ve looked on a lot of women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times.” Which doesn’t get me off the hook, but definitely puts me in the category of a thinker rather than a doer.
All of this is strictly theoretical, of course, because, like Jimmy, I’m a happily married man.
But should I be so inclined, would I discuss my deeds and desires in a locker room, as Trump claims he does from time to time? Unlikely. I can’t think of any less congenial location for a discussion about heterosexual love and lust than a place where sweaty, half-naked men gather together, no doubt casting envious glances at their team-mates’ personal dimensions. Something faintly homoerotic about that, don’t you think?
Maybe that’s an American thing. In England, you would be more likely to have that kind of conversation about an hour into a session in the pub.
If locker rooms are the American way, I shouldn’t think that Donald has been in one for a while, unless he’s talking about a golf club full of geriatric walruses like him. He doesn’t look like a gym bunny, does he?
Anyway, back to the original question. Among the many men ready to bury Mr Trump under a heap of stones, how many are without sin? In public life, I suspect, most guys are a bit like me. Prone to the occasional sinful thought but disinclined for any number of reasons – not least the fear of being found out – to do anything about it. Those who do act on their desires tend to seduce rather than assault. Recent history is full of successful seducers among our leaders – Francois Mitterand, John Major and good ole Bill Clinton among them. But unsolicited crotch-grabbers? Not so many. The sons of Saddam Hussein perhaps, Muammar Gaddafi, Lavrenti Beria and probably a number of other powerful people who have had the means to prevent their activities from becoming publicly known at the time.
But not in America surely? Or Britain for that matter. In the case of my country, that’s one of the things the ill-fated public inquiry into the activities of Jimmy Savile and his friends is designed to find out (more on that some other time).
But I do find it interesting that back in the day, when I was growing up, sex scandals involving politicians tended to not to be the actual cause of people losing their jobs. Covering them up was the real sin. Also, at the time, we were all so paranoid about reds under (or in) the bed that we viewed ministerial indiscretions as threats to national security. Which was what the Profumo scandal was all about – the Minister of War sharing a girl with a Soviet defence attaché. Honey traps, blackmail and espionage.
These days – certainly over the past couple of decades – it seems that politicians can get away with just about anything sexual without penalty. Trump, the groping walrus, may well be seen to have crossed the line of acceptability. Yet his supporters, upright citizens, many from areas espousing strict moral standards, seem to be giving him a free pass. Is it because they share Nigel Farage’s view that they’re not electing a pope? Or that boys will be boys? And does the idea that the red menace is no longer with us – and therefore questions of national security don’t come into the equation – have anything to do with their new-found broad-mindedness? If so, perhaps they know nothing about Vladimir Putin’s time-honoured methods.
Whatever the reason, if former New York Congressman Anthony Wiener can be exposed (if that’s the right term in his case) as a serial sexter, and yet continue to stand for public office, it would seem that in America at least there is the expectation that you can do just about anything in the sexual arena and get away with it. Hence, perhaps, Donald Trump’s attitude.
There is, however, one card that sexual miscreants in the United States have up their sleeves. It’s called redemption. Americans believe in redemption, up to a point. If you confess your sins and ask for forgiveness, you touch an emotion that chimes not only with the religious right but with the multitude of Catholics in that country who go to confession on a regular basis.
However, many American voters believe in three strikes and you’re out, so if you are forgiven, you really need to make sure you don’t re-offend. And when I say they believe in redemption up to a point, I mean that their beliefs don’t stop them from happily applying the death penalty on those they see as irredeemable. But in the case of sexual transgressions, I suspect that among many of those willing to forgive – men anyway – there’s a sense of “there but for the grace of God go I”.
In Britain, we tend not to go for redemption. With the exception of some members of our Muslim population who hold fairly draconian views about what they see as sexual deviance, we do manage to keep church and state pretty well separate. But we are pretty strong in condemning the far side of sexual behaviour. We don’t like paedophiles, and we don’t like rape or any other form of sexual assault. It’s worth speculating as to whether Donald Trump, based on the allegations swirling around at the moment, would if, he was British, be prosecuted on grounds of historic sex abuse.
Perhaps not, but you can be pretty sure that over here, on the evidence presented in the media, he would be hounded out of politics in very short order by which ever political party under whose umbrella he was standing for office. Even UKIP. At least I like to think so.
One final word on Trump – at least for now. In the last debate he promised to appoint a prosecutor who would send Hillary Clinton to jail for her “crimes”. That caused a bit of a stir, given that she’s never been convicted of any, and that it’s not within the power of an American President to jail anybody.
You would think that Hillary herself has grounds to sue Trump for defamation on the basis of the numerous occasions when he has referred to her as “Crooked Hillary”. Yes, I know why she hasn’t, and probably won’t. But what about all the other public figures he has insulted and lied about with merry abandon over the past few months?
It seems that politics – both in the US and to a lesser extent in the UK – is the only arena in which people can wilfully seek to destroy the reputation of others with impunity. Perhaps a lawsuit or two be sufficient to civilise the debate next time around. Do I hear someone say that Donald is planning to sue the New York Times for their hurtful revelations?
I wouldn’t bet on it. All mouth and no trousers is a particularly apt description for the would-be leader of the free world.