I try to be fair. And here’s where those efforts lead me regarding the revelation of Donald Trump’s not-the-least surprising and completely in character remarks about women recorded unawares on a hot microphone in 2005.
Let’s begin with the obvious: Alone or in select company, I regularly do and say things that I would do and say differently or not at all if I knew I was being recorded for posterity.
I also shut and lock the bathroom door for shower and toilet.
All human beings (I’m one of those) have instincts shaped and nurtured by evolution in the ‘lower’ brain. Your instinctual self contains shifting cycles of aggressive thoughts and fantasies, anti-social bravado, criminal fantasies, sexual fantasies, vicious scorn, shameless contempt, sadism, unbridled self-importance, lust, appetite and obscenity.
If you deny this, you are either lying or suffering crippling denial.
Yet, we are not merely our instincts. The difference between a being and a human being is precisely that psychological and social maturity demand we acknowledge and master our instinctual selves.
We are also sociocultural beings. And, in the culture that reared me, I learned words like class, decorum, gentleman, etiquette, etc., to describe the way competent adults acknowledge and master their instinctual selves.
Yet, in that same culture, I also learned that men, when socializing in select company, often give voice to sexual instincts and fantasies.
I confess: I do, on occasion, participate enthusiastically albeit privately in such conversations ranging from flirtatious and comedic to self-satirical and ironic, proceeding from there to ribald, bawdy, coarse, primitive and objectifying.
So, this week, I’ve appointed myself Grand Poobah of The Global Council On Guy Talk Rules, Decorum and Etiquette. Here goes …
Level One Guy Talk
If, when in the company of friends (mixed gender) with whom there exists sufficient rapport, history and trust, a man may verbally ventilate occasional, random, innocuous psychosexual thoughts, feelings and fantasies in the form of boyish flirtation, self-satire and lust posed as irony (e.g., “I think I’m in love,” … “I wonder if she would go camping with me?” … “She is ridiculously hot!” … “If I promised not to touch her, do you think she would shower with me?”
Level Two Guy Talk
A man shall only participate in Level Two Guy Talk with other men. And not just any men, but only with a select inner circle of man friends with whom the above-mentioned rapport, history and trust are established. As the anonymous stranger, table server, night club patron or mall shopper, etc., walks away and out of earshot, a man may verbally ventilate comments that might include coarse, primitive and objectifying. The man may name fantasized activities and body parts (e.g., “I would like to wear her a– as a hat” … “Nice [name body part]” … “Oh my my I could [sex act] her all night long.”)
Stuff like that. Just between close guy friends. On occasion.
Level Three Guy Talk
Level Three Guy Talk was banned by the Global Council during the Cretaceous Period. (The Council was then led by a committee of early mammals.) Any man who today engages in Level Three Guy Talk is immediately censored and, if unrepentant, no longer invited to do guy stuff with us.
Level Three guy talkers are undiscerning about their audience. Rapport, schamore. A Level Three guy talker is happy to enjoin any heretofore unmet Neandrodweeb, lackey or starry-eyed groupie to whom he might brag about sexual entitlement married to abject contempt for the feminine. This guy doesn’t discretely, artfully ventilate the ordinary sexual thoughts and feelings of a guy; rather, he touts a disturbing self-importance. He’s not talking, particularly, about the random stirrings of his loins; rather, he’s talking about the scope of his power-with-impunity over women.
For example, let’s say I had a guy-friend who was born with a silver spoon tucked far from the light. Let’s say he was coincidentally born during an era wherein the wider populace had become so anesthetized to art appreciation as to confuse reality television with authentic art form performed by actual, gifted, inspired artists, and who therefore regularly attributed celebrity status to otherwise ordinary, even vapid and vacuous mortals. And let’s say my vapid, vacuous, mortal guy-friend thought it pretty damn cool that such cartoon celebrity could be plied to “get” [some] women to “let you” feel them up without their permission, so cool that his most pleasurable autoerotic indulgence was telling me about these disturbing conquests.
Let’s say. Because I don’t have guy-friends like that.
(Steven Kalas writes a weel;u column for the Sparks Tribune. He is an author, therapist and Episcopal priest. He will field questions from readers. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)