On Friday afternoon, the Washington Post published a 2005 tape of Donald Trump bragging to television personality Billy Bush about his ability to "do anything" to women thanks to his fame. The clip, in which the Republican presidential candidate discusses his unsuccessful efforts to seduce a married woman, runs a gamut of crude remarks, but his recommendation to "grab [women] by the p---y" certainly stood out. (What he's describing is sexual assault, pure and simple.) The backlash was so pronounced that by Sunday, Trump had been abandoned by several Republican leaders and faced condemnation from men across party lines. Women, in the meantime, have been wondering when it's appropriate to say we told you so. Multiple times. At length.
After all, this is hardly the first time Trump has demonstrated a backwards, misogynistic attitude toward women. His history of sexist remarks goes back for years, and the presidential candidate hasn't appeared to restrain himself during his campaign (or if he has, it was unsuccessful). Earlier this spring, he lashed out at Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly for bringing up derogatory ways he has described women. Recently, he came under fire for reportedly referring to former Miss Universe winner Alicia Machado as "Miss Piggy," a reference to her weight gain; during the controversy, reports say he proceeded to call her "disgusting" and claimed that Machado had made a sex tape. He had a public feud with Rosie O'Donnell last year. He repeatedly admires his eldest daughter's sex appeal. The list of his objectifying, belittling remarks about women, usually focusing on their appearances, goes on and on — that's not even counting the disrespect of his opponent, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Attention has been drawn to his objectification of women virtually the entire duration of his campaign, but each time, the concerns were dismissed. And so, while the internet seethed with outrage over the weekend and other, similar clips that came to light, the question becomes this: Why now? Women have been pointing out Trump's misogyny for months, and his entire campaign is predicated on alpha male, xenophobic conservatism. Personally, I found the Trump Tapes unsurprising — nauseating and teeth-grindingly sexist, but not exactly shocking coming from the man who suggested disarming Clinton's Secret Service detail just to "see what happens to her."
What elevates the 2005 clip from the kind of short-lived controversy that has become par for the course in his campaign into something that threatens his candidacy is the reaction from men. As always, male validation is apparently needed before women's concerns are taken seriously. Perhaps most telling is the rhetoric used by Republicans to condemn Trump's remarks, which frames their censure in terms of their male point of view. They're horrified "as a husband" or because women are "wives and daughters," not because women are deserving of respect in their own right. It all circles back to defining women by their relationships with men.
On the bright side, that doesn't change the fact that Trump's campaign is floundering in the wake of the tape, and the second presidential debate, scheduled for Sunday night, promises to be anything but boring.