author – activist – faculty – mom
Donald Trump consistently jokes that if his daughter Ivanka weren’t his daughter, that he’d “perhaps…be dating her.” This is such a creepy assertion that The Daily Show with Trevor Noah ran a disturbing/hilarious segment “Donald Trump Wants to Bang His Daughter.” In response, Trump insisted that it was a joke, and that people thought it was hilarious. But when The Daily Show ran the clip, nobody was laughing. Because incest isn’t funny. Because Trump’s inability to see women as anything other than sexual objects isn’t funny. And when men behave like that toward women at work, there’s a word for that “sexual harassment.” And it’s illegal.
Every year, around this time, my office has us review our sexual harassment policies (unfortunately, as I wrote about earlier in The Toast, UC Berkeley had a bad year in this department). But it got me thinking that Ivanka Trump is not only his daughter, but also one of the executive vice presidents of the Trump Organization. Therefore, Trump’s constant joking about her “figure” and how he would be dating her if he weren’t her dad, is actually creating a hostile work environment. Even if Ivanka has become desensitized to such behavior. It’s still illegal.
One of the creepiest parts of his “joking” is his assertion that he’d “be dating her,” as if her interest or consent is not particularly needed. I suspect that Trump has so much money, power, and influence, that he’s used to being able to engage sexually with any of the women around him, or else he can likely get them fired, or otherwise cut off dealings with them. He’s not used to having women around that he finds sexually attractive that he can’t engage with sexually. Clearly, it’s making him crazy. This attractive young blonde woman (just his type) who is sexually off-limits. So he obviously feels the need to act out the gendered and sexualized domination through “joking.” This is particularly chilling because throughout history, fathers, stepfathers, uncles, grandfathers, and older male relatives have been allowed by Western societies to sexually abuse young women in their families. This is a key part of the patriarchal tradition in which women (wives and children) were the property of men. And they could do with their womenfolk what they chose to do. While incest was considered immoral or even illegal, a man’s home was his castle, and it was nobody else’s business. Trump seems to be invoking this history in his “joking.” The subtext being hey, we both know that I have the right to have sex with you, right? It’s so disturbing.
It’s disturbing and painful to watch Trump’s open racism, sexism, xenophobia and Islamophobia incite greater intolerance in our already intolerant nation. But I like to think that, with this particular sexual hostile environment, that Trump is digging his own grave as a political candidate. The women of the US electorate weren’t going to vote for rape apologist senators, or supporters of trans-vaginal ultrasounds for women seeking healthcare. They’re not gonna allow this bigoted, misogynist buffoon either.