Not in My Locker Room

Amazing women fill my life. My wife, amazing. My mother, amazing. Sister, check. Daughter, check. Both grandmothers, check-check. My aunts… check-check-check-check-check-check-check-check-check. Yes, I have nine aunts (see amazing grandmothers above).

When I flew back home for my 104-year-old grandmother’s funeral (amazing), I brought my one-year-old with me. I was a rock star. People held doors open, offered to carry my luggage, and told me how great my son and I were. At the gate, an off-duty airline attendant offered to watch my son should I need to use the washroom. She even showed me her credentials. While waiting in line to change planes, with my son asleep on my shoulder, someone tapped me from behind. I turned, and a uniformed pilot asked me for my phone number. When I asked why, he said, “You guys are so cute.” He showed me our photo on his phone, “I wanna text you a copy.” On board, the attendant doted on me – snacks, toys, preferential seating, all around deluxe treatment.

And I appreciated the treatment. But… why don’t mothers receive that treatment? I mean, flying with my airplane-obsessed son is fun. My wife did the planning and packing, what credit did she get? There were countless single mothers travelling with kids through Pearson that day, where was their special treatment? Are the expectations for fathers so low that travelling with my son warrants celebrity status? And I do it myself – I applaud fathers travelling alone with children, and I fail even to notice the mothers. Why do we set mothers’ expectations so high, then shame the ones who might not meet them?

Sometimes, with advancements like maternity rights and voting rights, I think our society has come a long way on women’s rights. Then I see America elect a man on record saying, “(I) just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything you want… Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

This was a dumb thing to say, but Donald Trump is not dumb. He did not achieve his success in business, or win the presidency, through idiocy alone. He is analytical, confident, and unpolished in a way that many Americans welcome. He has qualities I look for in leaders.

But it comes down to half of the population and basic respect. Bragging about sexual assault is unacceptable. You can’t explain that away as, “nothing more than a distraction,” and, “locker room banter.” You can’t. I teach Physical Education. The person who now holds what is viewed as one of the most powerful offices in the world, explains his comments as, “locker room talk.” Not in my locker room. That disgusts me. It makes me sad. It makes me mad. A giant, rude step was taken, backward. I feel like Trump’s unofficial slogan is, Make America Hate Again.

So, now The Donald is President. The joke turned into possibility, turned into reality, and now it is the new normal. I don’t like it, and that’s ok. Plenty of good people didn’t like it when Obama was elected. But we cannot accept Trump’s words and his “apology” (“I apologize if anyone was offended”). Disrespecting women should never be normal. We need to separate those. He is president; his words were wrong.

Back to the women in my life. And to all the amazing women rallying in Fernie and around the world. I don’t want to pedestalize; I just want to say, “Thank you.” Thank you for reminding us that even though those clips of Trump’s remarks have fallen out of the news since his win, we need to remember them. Thanks for being role models for my children. We need women and men, girls and boys, to know that disrespecting women is wrong. Being powerful and rich might make the difference in getting away with deplorable comments. But what Trump said is wrong.

To my wife and my daughter: at times I will fail to be the man you deserve. Know the weakness is mine. You are my strength. To my son: love, respect, and appreciate the women in your life. They are amazing.