You know how in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, when you look directly at the Ark of the Covenant your face melts and your head explodes? That's how I feel about watching Donald Trump. I'm horrified, I'm terrified, and I'm exhausted after over a year of having to listen to the horrible things he says. So I approached the first of 2016 presidential debate with a gnawing sense of disgust, worry, and exhaustion. I watched anyway, and a main take away was this: "How can I teach my son not to be a manterrupter like Donald Trump?"
A quick, clarifying distinction between plain old "interrupting" and "manterrupting." Honestly, there isn't much of one, as the two look very similar to the untrained eye. Yet "manterrupting" usefully (I'd say necessarily) highlights the phenomenon that most women know way too well: frequent interruptions at work, school, on public transportation, literally anywhere you're a woman (so, you know, everywhere) by men. The Daily Wire argues that the 51 times Hillary Clinton was interrupted during the first debate wasn't sexist because Trump interrupts everyone. Yes, it's true that the dude is a vociferous interrupter in general. I would even agree, perhaps, that his penchant for interjecting his two cents is rooted less in sexism than it is in his constant need for attention, his sense of self-importance, and the fact that his lack of substance requires belligerent pomposity. Yet I would counter that his inveterate sexism and abysmal views on women absolutely colored the evening's debate with Hillary Clinton, as evidenced by his very first interaction with her:
Now, in all fairness to Secretary Clinton — yes, is that OK? Good. I want you to be very happy. It’s very important to me.
This smug, condescending, faux-chivalry is the kind of crap women put up with all the time, and many of us saw our own experiences in the Trump/Clinton exchanges during the first of what will be three presidential debate. This got me to thinking. As a mother, how I can discourage this kind of chauvinistic behavior in my own son? How can all mothers, in fact, make sure they don't raise another would-be Donald Trump? Turns out, I have a few ideas, including the following:
Now there's a bit of wiggle room here in the details, so I'll acknowledge that. Trump claims that he received an initial loan of $1,000,000 from his multimillionaire father in order to start his business and turn it into the Trump Empire we know and loathe today. During the debate at Hofstra, Clinton suggested he received a much larger amount, $14 million, which Trump denied, saying it was a "very small" loan (as he had on earlier occasions).
Yet The Wall Street Journal found a casino-license disclosure from 1985 stating that Trump did, indeed receive a $14 million loan in 1985 from his dad. But, honestly, once you get a six-digit (at least) loan, the exact number is sort of a detail, wouldn't you say? Even if he were talking about that initial loan and ignoring any subsequent help (which, also, don't let your kid do that, either), a million dollars is not "very small," and I guess I think it's sort of funny that a candidate "of the people" would think otherwise. Weird.
Anyway, the kind of entitled, spoiled attitude the encourages such delusions of grandeur and complete self-sufficiency is the same entitled attitude that encourages constantly, condescending interruptions. Should you, as a parent, ever be in the tremendously fortunate position to help your child with a massive gift, make sure they're appropriately appreciative.
If your kid just responds to absolutely everything you say with some sort of commentary, just to hear himself talk (even if he's not technically) interrupting — for example, by just saying, "Wrong!" after everything you say — insist that he cut the crap. Because stop, STOP.
To quote Angelica Houston in 1998 movie, Ever After, "Do not speak unless you can improve the silence."
Because if a boy believes that everything he says is of equal value and relevance, and that sorting truth from lies is unimportant, he's just going to interrupt more. Facts. So make sure your son realizes that the truth is important.
The kind of hateful, misogynistic, entitled attitudes that prompt a man to, without qualm, publicly shame a woman for gaining weight and calling her hurtful names — as Trump did with Alicia Machado aka Miss Universe 1996 (or any number of other women in the past 25 or so years) — are also likely to fuel a man's constant need to interrupt women when they're talking. It's of the utmost importance that we raise our sons to see all women as inherently worthy of respect, not as objects who owe it to them to be beautiful (as they define beauty, that is) in order to be treated with decency.
Because if he can build a decent argument, he won't have to rely on bombastic rhetoric and shouting down the person he's debating while she's making a salient point.
My personal favorite interrupting moment of the first presidential debate is one that's, sadly, not getting nearly the amount of attention I think it should, if only from an entertainment perspective.
CLINTON: No, we’re not. No, we’re not. TRUMP: See, you’re telling the enemy everything you want to do. No wonder you’ve been fighting — no wonder you’ve been fighting ISIS your entire adult life.
Now, CNN reports that ISIS/ISIL/Daesh was established in 1999, and rebranded multiple times thereafter. So, if Hillary Clinton has been fighting ISIS her entire adult life (which is particularly impressive since Trump has also claimed she co-founded ISIS with Obama), that would make her about 35 now. This manterruption could have been avoided with some very basic math skills. Though, I think we've established by now that math is not Trump's strong suit.
Or maybe this is just a savvy move by Trump to create another conspiracy about presidential legitimacy, much like the previously botched "birther" movement. Is Clinton OLD ENOUGH to be president?! LET'S SEE HER LONG-FORM BIRTH CERTIFICATE!
It only encourages him to think whatever idiot joke he wants to make is more important than what the woman he's interrupting is trying to say (or the woman, herself).
Because then he's constantly going to feel like he has to prove something for some reason, and all of that pent up anxiety is going to result in a lot of bluster and bravado, and he's going to start calling people "Little Marco" and it's going to be weird and off-putting and, yes, he's going to feel the need to interrupt on a more frequent basis.
Your little boy won't have to manterrupt someone to claim they never said something if they understand that, at any point, someone can go online and check. If it was on the internet once, on the internet it remains, somewhere.
Because four years of Trump in the White House is not going to do anything to discourage our boys from engaging in this obnoxious, rude, chauvanistic, entitled behavior. They deserve a better role model.