I did some bartending in my youth, mostly in college bars and such. It was one of the better paying gigs I could get, and I learned a lot about dealing with people at their worst. I have many stories; some I only tell when I'm a bit less than sober. Lately, though, I've been thinking a lot about one particular incident.
I was doing my thing - pouring drafts and smiling at girls - when I noticed a couple having an argument. I didn't give it much thought; people argue sometimes, and at that age, rocky relationships are a kind of growing pain, it seems. And then he hit her.
I reacted like many people do when absolutely shocked by something we witness - I froze up for a moment, but only for a moment. You see, I had been well trained in my youth, like many of the guys I knew then and know now. Hitting is bad. Hitting those weaker and smaller is worse. Hitting women is absolutely out-of-bounds, and if you see a guy doing this, it requires an immediate and harsh response.
A bouncer friend of mine once told me "There are times when you go around the bar, and times when you go over it." I went over, but before my feet hit the ground, three rather beefy men already had their hands on the idiot Dude-bro, and were dragging him out back. When it was over, the guy looked like Joe Pesci at the end of Goodfellas - it wasn't a pretty sight.
As they were dragging him away, I saw the look on Dude-bro's face. There was fear, but also resignation, as if he knew this would happen, and had, in a way, accepted it. The moment his right hand struck her left cheek, we all knew exactly how it would end. Men know that there are certain behaviors that will earn you a beating at the hands of other men, and at the risk of sounding like a macho caveman, there are times when this is exactly what should happen.
While creepers exist in all walks of life, there seems to be a preponderance of them among the very wealthy. Wealth and power seem to have the same effect on the privileged as a few shots of tequila have on the bad elements among us regular Joes - suddenly, those drunk on booze or power become, in their own minds at least, instantly irresistible, charming, entitled to the attentions and bodies of any and all that they may desire, and completely free of even the slightest consequence for their actions. However, while regular society has developed a series of checks and balances to restore common decency through the use of the occasional punch in the head, the arrest, the trial, and the prison sentence, among the uber-wealthy, there seems to be no system in place to push back against this kind of deviant behavior. As a result, the stories of abuse and assault sometimes go unchecked for decades, as they did in the case of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
This is not to say that that any particular group really has a handle on these issues. For every injustice we address, we ignore a dozen more. But until recently, one could have made an argument that those of us in regular America are much less tolerant of these kinds of abuses than those who reside in gated communities. Dude-bro, for example, was going to take a beating no matter what - the size of his wallet was never going to be a factor. That was my understanding of the differences between the behavioral norms of the hyper-wealthy compared to normal people, at least until 2016 came along and we elected Donald Trump to become the most powerful man in the world, even though his record of being an absolute creeper is well known, and undeniable. Here are a number of instances that would register as "Not OK" on any human being's decency scale; I call the list Things That Would Get a Regular Guy Punched in the Head:
- We've all heard the Access Hollywood tape. I'm not going to dwell on it, except to say that the "locker room talk" excuse is bullshit. I've been in more locker rooms than the Creeper-in-Chief, and guys who talk like this get punched in the head, often and repeatedly. Maybe, maybe a 16-year-old kid who doesn't know what the words mean might talk like this, but men don't, at least not without consequences.
- Trump often bragged about
walking into the dressing rooms at his pageants while contestants were nude, or partially nude, and doing so unannounced. Here are his own words describing one such incident on the Howard Stern Show: "You know they're standing there with no clothes. And you see these incredible-looking women. And so I sort of get away with things like that." And if this weren't creepy enough on its own, there are multiple reports of him
doing this at a Miss Teen USA competition in 1997, when the contestants were as young as 15. "Don't worry, ladies," he said, "I've seen it all before."
- "I've said if Ivanka weren't my daughter, perhaps I'd be dating her." I don't really need to explain this quote from a 2006 appearance on The View, except to say that anyone who doesn't see this as a punch-able moment doesn't have a daughter. He has also called her "voluptuous" and mentioned that "She's got the best body," which are comments so odd and uncomfortable when speaking about one's daughter that I'm actually going to shower after writing about them. And these are just a few examples. Trump has done this several more times, in many different settings, each instance ickier than the last.
- And there's more. Much more. NPR put together a rather cringe-worthy list of accusations in October of 2016 as part of the mainstream media's late inning push for sanity after nearly a year of propping up Trump for the sake of ratings.
Now, the fact that I'm willing to state the obvious here does not make me an ally to women. I get that. These issues are much much larger than one simple election, and the fact that I'm so stunned by our collective ability to endorse sexual assault by electing a creeper makes me feel a bit silly, since an actual ally would be angry, but certainly not surprised. I mean, we've only been doing this forever, so the fact that white men voted for Trump at a 63% clip should be news to no one.
Like I said earlier, I've been thinking a lot about that day at the bar, when that Dude-bro ran afoul of the rules of white male chivalry and got a beating for his transgression. I remember the look on his face, and the appeals from his girlfriend to let him go, but for us, it really had nothing to do with her. It was just another reason for real men to be real men. I can still see those three guys dragging him out back, only now, 20 years later, all I can think about is the simple fact that two of those guys voted for Trump.
Contributing Editor: Brett Pransky
Brett Pransky is a rabid humanitarian with a sharp pen and a graduate degree in Rhetoric - a truly dangerous animal. His natural habitat is the halls of Ohio University, but he can be found on Twitter now and again as well, @BrettPransky.