Rule of Thumb

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It has been said that you can tell a lot about a person by how they treat waiting staff. So if you are on a date and they speak to the waiter or waitress in a derogatory or abrupt fashion, you should announce that you have left the oven on and bid a hasty retreat. Presumably if your date is exceptionally rude, you leave before the meal gets anywhere near the table (you know that it will have been spat in) by claiming that you left the fire on as well. And if someone treats people trying to earn a decent wage like that, then one can only wonder what they are like at close quarters in a relationship. Watching the news this week, as we all have done at some point, I can only wonder how the new American President got past that first date and all the way to the altar with his wife, given the two incidents that I have witnessed along with the whole world.

The first one you all must have seen was when he got out of the car to meet the Obamas on the steps of The White House . He got out, made his way to President and Mrs Obama, and greeted them. Meanwhile, his wife was left to make her own way out of the car and up the steps. When she arrived at his side, he barely so much as acknowledged her. He then went inside (at President Obama’s invitation) and left President and Mrs Obama to put Mrs Trump at her ease.

The second one might not have come across your screen, but I happened upon it. You have a look and see what you think at the part of his inauguration when President Trump is obviously rude to his wife . What did he say to her? Just what could she have possibly done that was so awful on that day that he felt the need to speak to her like that in front of all of those people? Look at the faces of the people standing next to Mrs Trump. They heard it and are trying not to show it, but you can see it flicker across their faces. With one comment he reduced her almost to tears. And look at his face when he turns back round – he looks rather pleased with himself doesn’t he? Big man, saying something so unpleasant to his wife that in perhaps in a less public forum, she would have burst into tears. And if he treats her like that when everyone is watching, then one can only wonder…..oh no, wait, we have an example of that too….

Anyone, with the inclusion of Tim Peake who was not even on the planet at the time, did hear the infamous “locker room talk”. It doesn’t need us to debate it – it’s not locker room talk. There is no man who is a friend of mine who would talk about a woman like that; not in a changing room, not in a bar, not anywhere. I am sure that they would talk in an overtly sexual way to each other, or more likely in their own heads about a woman whom they found sexually attractive, in terms of two consenting adults. So would heterosexual women about a man they found attractive. But not like that. Not like the man or woman is a thing for him to fuck when and how he likes. Not like someone who claims to have mints in case he just starts kissing a woman whether they want to be kissed or not – he doesn’t know and he doesn’t care.

Amongst all of this, the point about the Definitely-Not-Locker-Room-Talk that appears to have been glossed over, or missed, or because everyone is still open-mouthed at the whole thing and hasn’t got round to it yet, is that President Trump was married to Melania Trump at the time. And they had a child. So not only was he openly admitting to assaulting women, he had a wife and a child at home as well. Ladies, please form an orderly queue…..

I have read various comments along the lines of “well she knew what she was marrying” and “oh well, he’s got plenty of money”. It is as if a man having money makes it okay for a woman to be treated badly – the money is compensation, and therefore that makes it acceptable as a bargain to have been made: I do not agree. Just because a woman (or a man) isn’t kicked from pillar to post by a drunken partner every night and isn’t running screaming down the road to a refuge in her nightie, doesn’t make it okay. Just because he hasn’t laid one finger on one hair of her head, doesn’t mean that she isn’t lying in bed every night, frightened about what she will do wrong next or what horror he will visit on her or their child if she tries to leave. Just because there isn’t physical violence, it doesn’t mean that it is not abuse. She thought that she hadn’t put a foot wrong all day, and yet she did something to displease him. That is because she’s trapped in a labyrinth with walls that move and rules that change depending upon his whim.

Maybe it is harder to pin it down in physical and legislative terms when it comes to us this way. And a person’s relationship is theirs and not anyone else’s which makes it very difficult indeed. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be ready to understand and help as and when it shows itself for what it is, even if it is disguised by a nice three bed detached in suburbia and two point four kids in a private school, or a tower named after a bottom burp.

Meanwhile, continue to avoid people who are rude to waiting staff.

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