After The Washington Post published a report on Friday on recently unearthed tapes of Donald Trump making reprehensible, "lewd" comments about women — including how he could just "grab them by the pussy" — many men, namely politicians and journalists, came out to denounce the ear acid. And they did it with, I'm sure, the best intentions. The only problem is that many of those men dangerously missed the mark when it came to why Trump's words are indefensible. And this one Ruth Bader Ginsburg quote sums up exactly why it's important to critique their Trump critique.
For background, here's what Trump said, bragging about how his privilege as a celebrity makes sexual assault permissible:
You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything ... Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.
And although he issued a non-apology apology the night the tapes were revealed, brushing off his shameful statements as "locker room banter," many of his one-time defenders aren't buying it, saying there's no excuse for the deeply offensive rhetoric. Many top Republicans in Congress and other GOP leaders have even gone so far as to rescind their endorsements.
Paul Ryan quickly released a statement to hold Trump accountable for his words and uninvited him from their upcoming event, on top of refusing to work with him for the rest of the campaign, saying:
I am sickened by what I heard today. Women are to be championed and revered, not objectified. I hope Mr. Trump treats this situation with the seriousness it deserves and works to demonstrate to the country that he has greater respect for women than this clip suggests.
Trump's running mate, Mike Pence, released a statement explaining how horrified he was by Trump's remarks:
As a husband and father, I was offended by the words and actions described by Donald Trump in the 11-year-old video released yesterday. I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them.
It's a step in the right direction. That type of language is unacceptable. But it's not unacceptable only if you know and care about a woman — it's unacceptable because it's offensive to anyone who understands and insists that all human beings should be treated equally and with basic, fundamental respect.
Even New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, a defender of women's rights and an activist in exposing sex trafficking and highlighting the gender inequalities that lead to the crime, said in a Facebook Live feed:
There's been a lot of talk about how this is offensive to women. Well, of course it's offensive to women; It's offensive to men too! We are the sons of women, we are the husbands of women, we are the fathers of women and girls and these kind of comments and this kind of behavior is an affront to not just half the population, but to all the population.
The defense surely comes from a good place, but the language used to denounce the horrendous words Donald Trump puked all over the Access Hollywood bus still perpetuates the idea that women are "other" than and need special protection from men. And according to Ginsburg, when that happens, this is the result:
Kristof goes on to get a little closer to the root of the issue: "What if it were Hillary Clinton who was caught on a videotape joking about castrating men and forcing herself on young men or something?" I appreciate the analogy to illustrate the double standard Hillary Clinton faces, but even as a woman, I wouldn't be offended by Clinton saying something so disgusting because I know and care about the men in my life — it'd be offensive because you shouldn't mutilate or abuse any human.
That same spirit should be applied to the denunciations of Trump's comments. They're wrong not because we care about the women in our lives and feel compelled to protect them. They're wrong because they're disgusting remarks, and reveal a person bragging about his horrible treatment of a human.