Sometimes we just have those moments when all there is left to say is, “fuck.” Earlier this semester, students gathered for a speak-out surrounding the murder of Keith Lamont Scott. At this speak-out, a few WFU administrators showed up to support students. On a surface level, this seems like a way to make students feel more comfortable communicating with faculty and administration, but their presence had the opposite affect. I stood by as student after student who I knew to frequently reject respectability politics stopped themselves from cursing or apologized profusely afterward. By the end of it, I had something to say. So I took the mic and asked everyone to participate in an exercise with me to free ourselves from the so-called-respectable environment that we seemed to have created. On the count of three, the whole crowd yelled, “FFFUUUUCCCKKKK!” It was a sorely needed release for many of us.
These respectability politics don’t stay contained within our neat little circles of academics, unfortunately. Respectability surrounds us and it makes a place in which the marginalized become even more so because they are told repeatedly that their voice doesn’t matter. Their anger, respectability advocates say, nullifies their argument. This election really says something about the time and place in which we are in. People are fighting back against respectability politics, but the argument is only valid when it is a heterosexual, cis-gender, upper-class white man. I’m looking at you, Mr. Trump.
Last week, a campaign ad debuted featuring a little boy who wanted to run for tee-ball captain. In the course of his campaign speech, the little boy did and said many of the same things Donald Trump has said over the course of the election cycle. He made fun of a disabled boy. He told a little girl in his class to, “go back to Mexico.” He even made some pretty crude comments about women. I was appalled. I was so appalled that I had to take a step back and think hey now, why am I more upset over this little boy doing this than a grown-ass man? You see, we’ve normalized the crude behavior of these white men who are lucky enough not to abide by the rules.
I’ve written before about the ways in which Hillary Clinton has been held to an impossible standard because she is a woman, but I’ve failed to take note of the other side of things. Precisely, that Donald Trump’s out-of-control behavior only bolsters his masculinity even further. When he calls Mexican immigrants, “bad hombres,” he only further establishes his place in the hierarchy of toxic masculinity: comfortably at the top where rich, white men should be according to history. Trump’s privilege to do this is no new phenomenon. During the Cold War, the term “macho man” came into popularity as used to describe immigrant men who beat their wives, refused to provide for their children, and were just outright no-good. The purpose? To make white, upper-class American men feel secure in their masculinity during a time when it was feeling fragile and weak.
It seems that as long as masculinity is bolstered in the process, to hell with respectability. Even just last week at a Wake the Vote event about women in politics with Senatorial candidate Deborah Ross, some people seemed hurt that Dr. Harris-Perry said the word, “pussy,” on stage, completely ignoring the fact that she was talking about Donald Trump’s atrocious comments that had come to light the week before. In fact, the use of the word at the event seemed to be more scandalous, in some folks’ minds, than the statement by Trump himself.
I’m tired of this nonsense. I’ll say what the hell I want when the hell I want, and I hope that other people with marginalized identities stand with me in that. If you’re out there and you’re tired of this bullshit, I want to invite you to do something right now. Stand up where you are, count to three, and yell “FUUCCCKKK!” real loud. You deserve it. We deserve it. We deserve to share our voices unfiltered, and the rest of the world deserves to hear what we’ve got to say.