Waiting to pay for my groceries at the market this evening, this guy, stinking of booze, says to my 9-year-old daughter, “Sweetheart, can you put the divider thing there for me?” First, why is some leering grown man calling my child “sweetheart”? He then thumps two huge bottles of vodka down on the belt. I move closer to my daughter; he then reaches his hand over me and wraps his hand around her arm, saying, “Now, you be nice to your Mommy, sweetie.” I pluck his hand off. “Do not touch my child,” I say. My other hand is pressed against my daughter’s ribs, and I can feel her heart POUNDING.
“You have a beautiful daughter,” he says. The cashier, whom we know, a guy, looks at me, eyebrows up. I roll my eyes. So pissed. We leave.
“I hated that man,” my daughter says once we get in the car. “He smelled bad, I wanted to hit him, if anyone ever does that to me again I’m going to scream.” Here we effing go: “Sometimes you have to be hypervigilant,” I tell my daughter, “because some gross men out there feel they are entitled to touch us.”
And then I share my story: “When I was a little girl…” I don’t even remember the first time it happened to me. I don’t remember the last time some pervert rubbed up against me. But that’s what you have to deal with when you are a girl. We have to learn to brush this shit off, to make sure that this endless assault course of predators doesn’t take one bit of your pride, your confidence, or your sense of peace as you walk through this world. I am so angry.
We should call this the “Trump Talk.” The depressing conversation that every parent needs to have with their little girl about revolting, predatory, entitled men. The Trump Talk.
Mother And Daughter Discuss Enraging Realities
I’m sorry about what happened to your daughter at the grocery store—but I’m glad you were there with her when it happened.
A lot of women I know, including some very close friends, were your daughter’s age the first time it happened to them, MADDER, but they were alone. Tragically, many assumed that they had done something wrong, that they had invited this on themselves somehow, and most didn’t go to their parents for fear of getting into trouble. And when it happened again, some became convinced they were indeed to blame, that they were bringing this on themselves somehow, because they thought it wasn’t happening to anyone else, just them.
I want to live in a world where this sort of thing doesn’t happen to anyone’s daughter, MADDER, but until we do: Every little girl should be so lucky as to have a trusted adult standing by ready to intervene when it does happen. I only wish the grocery store clerk had intervened, too.
Regarding your suggestion, MADDER, I’ve received roughly 10 million emails begging me to do for Donald Trump what I did for Rick Santorum: My readers and I redefined santorum (“the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex”) and some wanted us to do the same for Trump. People even sent in suggestions: trump is the streak of shit a large turd sometimes leaves on the bottom of the toilet bowl; trump is the snot that sometimes runs out of your nose when you’re giving a blowjob; a trump is a guy so hopelessly inept in bed that no woman (or man) wants him, no matter how rich he is. The suggested new meanings all struck me as trivial and snarky—and I don’t think there’s anything trivial about the racism, sexism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and violence that Trump has mainstreamed and normalized, and I’m not inclined to snark about it.
And, besides, “trump” already has a slang meaning: It means “to fart audibly” in Great Britain—and that definition is already in the Oxford English Dictionary. And it frankly didn’t seem possible to make Donald Trump’s name any more revolting than he already has.
But then your e-mail arrived, MADDER, and I set aside the column I was already working on to rush your idea into print. Because your suggestion—that parents call the conversation they need to have with their daughters about predatory and entitled men the “Trump Talk”—is just as fitting and apt as the “frothy mixture” definition of santorum. It’s not trivial and it’s not snarky. It has gravitas, MADDER, and here’s hoping “Trump Talk” isn’t just widely adopted, but universally practiced. Because no little girl who gets groped on a bus or in a grocery store or on a subway or in a classroom should ever have to wonder if she did something wrong.