Subject: I don’t understand either
Dear Mr. Pence,
Last week, you commented on Michelle Obama’s emotion-packed speech, which called out your Republican presidential candidate’s “locker room talk” on an open mic. The one where he laughingly explained how he can sexually exploit women without their consent. That he could just grab them and kiss them or just grab them by the crotch. Anything he wants because he’s a star.
You said about Michelle’s speech: “I just don’t understand the basis of her claim.”
Well, to tell the truth, I can’t understand it, either. I can understand how it is taking unfair advantage. I can understand how this makes him a creep. I can understand how this makes him an arrogant selfish overgrown 14-year-old whose daddy told him that he can play with anything or anybody.
I can understand the anger in Michelle’s speech. But as an older, white, middle-class male, I can’t understand the sickening feeling in her stomach. Or my wife’s stomach. Maybe this is what we don’t understand. Let’s try and figure this out together, Mike. Maybe we’re missing something here.
Why do women feel depressed with this? Why do the women whom it happens to feel guilty afterward? Why do they feel ashamed themselves? Does this guilt and shame make it where they don’t report it right away? I get the anger. I don’t get the shame, guilt and depression of the victims and I don’t understand the sickening feeling in Michelle and most women. Stay with me, Mike. Maybe we can figure this out.
Maybe we can’t completely understand this but partially understanding will be a lot better than where we are now. And for me there is precedence for this procedure. As a young man in the sixties I “understood” what blacks were going through. As a bleeding-heart liberal I could see their point of view and argue their cause. But what hit me in the stomach was the story of a black woman who told of her first experience of bigotry. As an eight-year-old little girl she went up to an ice cream truck and ordered a cone. The man made the cone, scowled at her and then threw the cone onto the street. He hated her, he broke her heart and she didn’t know why.
I still didn’t completely understand – I never will — but I came closer. So, there’s hope for us, Mike. If not to feel the full sickening emotion, to at least understand why the emotion is there.
First, let’s try and understand the victim’s emotions. Why are the victims ashamed? Why are they depressed? Why do they feel guilty? They were the victims, not the perpetrator. Maybe it’s because they either let it pass or after resisting or escaping they did not call the police or even confront the guy.
This is all about the different world they live in, Mike. We don’t live in it and so don’t understand it. For example: watching the second debate I saw the Republican wandering around the stage. I did not notice him invading her space, creeping up on her. My wife did.
If the guy is a star or rich and powerful and it’s a “she says he says” situation, she knows that she doesn’t stand a chance. Making a scene at the time could make her seem foolish, especially with his denial. Reporting it could ruin her career if the star goes after her. Or at the very least, it could ruin her reputation which could still ruin her career.
But why the depression and the gnawing at the stomach of both the victims and the female witnesses? I think we have all felt helplessness to power. But most white men haven’t been so sharply singled out as victims. Singled out and humiliated. Belittled, put in our place. With so little recourse other than making a fuss and singling our self out even more starkly. Why did he feel so little respect for me that he would think he could do that? Why am I so small and inconsequential in this world that I can be treated so disdainfully? Am I this helpless in my career, in my life?
This is all about human dignity, Mike. Although you and I may not be able to fully understand having it snatched completely from us, we should be sympathetic to the emotions coming from its loss. The people living in that woman’s world, like Michelle and my wife, have a deep empathy for these victims. They understand and even share these emotions. The basis for Michelle’s “claim” is human dignity, Mike. Could you try to explain what that is to the head of your ticket?
— Jack Robinson
Jack Robinson is a resident of Piqua and past contributing columnist for the Daily Call.