Once, I wrote about the physical effects I experienced in the presence of a gaggle of early teen girls, and my honesty led to impassioned – and hostile – responses. Keep in mind, all I did was describe my thoughts and fantasies. I didn’t, to my mind, sexualize anyone. Rather, I described the physical effect on me of certain young women’s biological maturity.
Over the course of my life, I’ve struggled mightily to escape two psychotic delusions: first, that I am responsible for my thoughts; and second, that my desires necessitate fulfillment. The anger I provoked when I described my sexual response to pubescent girls was fueled by these same delusions in others.
Some readers imagined a) I chose to have the sexual fantasies I reported, and b) the fact of my fantasizing was somehow equivalent to my acting on my fantasies. Or maybe c) the fact of my telling you about my fantasies was somehow dangerous, that speaking them aloud, writing them for public consumption, somehow endangered or violated the young women about whom I wrote. Or (most likely?) d) I gave voice to thoughts and desires shared by others, but which those others somehow were threatened by seeing in “print.”
None of this has anything to do with what Donald Trump did in this video, which was to entice a ten-year-old girl to participate in a filmed masturbatory fantasy – a fantasy in which he denied her agency and humanity, in which she exists simply as an object for the fulfillment of Trump’s sexual wishes.
I objectify. All the time. And I’ve tried to figure out what’s different about the objectification I did at that bat mitzvah, when I looked at a gaggle of girls, felt my dick twitch, and then wrote about it, and what Trump did in the video above. I think, but I’m not sure, that this is the difference: I looked at those girls, and I noticed a biological response in myself, a response that I understood as “I want….”
“I want” leaves a lot of room for agency on the part of the object(s) of my desire. I might want to fuck her, but she might not want to fuck me. Or, in the case of the girls at the bat mitzvah, I might fantasize about sex with one or another of the girls, but I never would. Even if she wanted to fuck me. And in any event, I took as a given that there was something complicated, something forbidden, about my sexualizing these young women.
Trump said something different from “I want.” He said, “I’m going to be dating her in ten years.” Was he claiming clairvoyance? Omnipotence? Both? In any event – the girl didn’t matter. What she might want didn’t matter. Her life’s trajectory, according to him, pointed simply to him, to his penis.
That woman is, now, 34. She has one more year to date Trump, if she hasn’t already, before “check-out time.”
Let’s all wish her luck.