Regretfully, the phrase "grab her by the pussy" is going to live on in our collective memory for quite some time. We have the orange bloviator Donald Trump to thank for that line — just one gem from his arsenal of sexually predatory remarks and actions. And now we have one woefully ignorant actor to thank for an equally problematic riff on Trump's misogynist remark.
On Wednesday, British actor Gregg Sulkin — who split from Bella Thorne in August after more than a year of dating — shared a tragically counterproductive effort to empower "females of all ages." It's called "Grab Her By The Brain" — no, truly — and it's an organization started by Sulkin, 24, and several other "like-minded individuals." Basically, they're selling baseball caps emblazoned with that terribly worded slogan, and 10% of sales will go to charities in line with that purported mission; the initiative's first partner is Boo2Bullying.
Okay. I'm going to try to make an articulate argument here when all I really want to say is, "What the fuck?! How about you just don't grab women, period?" Is replacing one word in Trump's horrendous remark about grabbing women supposed to be a clever way to subvert sexism or something? WHY ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT GRABBING WOMEN?
I see what Sulkin and co. are trying to do here — I do. The intended message: Let's value women for their intelligence, not their sexuality. I appreciate that he and his collaborators are trying to counter Trump and his cavalier attitude toward sexual assault — as well as the general "objectification of females" and the devaluing of our contributions to society, per the organization's About Us page. I know they're only trying to help. I also understand that the slogan isn't literal, because that's gross and also physically impossible. But the choice of words here is just so ill-advised...and tone-deaf and objectifying and marginalizing and condescending and disempowering. Make no mistake: In our culture's ongoing conversation about sexism and sexual predation — including sexist attitudes, sexist behaviors, sexual assault, and rape culture — it is all about the language. The backlash over Trump's talk of grabbing women by the genitals wasn't because people wanted him to grab them by a different body part.
About 95% of the replies to Sulkin's tweet express this exact same sentiment. One person tweeted, "the grabbing part is still problematic." Another: "WTF HOW ABOUT DONT GRAB HER AT ALL?" Someone else pointed out, "Your website says 'refuses to to accept the objectification of women' but you are objectifying us just by 'grabbing' us." Precisely. (The string of defensive tweets on Sulkin's profile, by the way, is unrelated; he's responding to rumors that he kicked ex Thorne out of their shared L.A. house.)
The other word people are taking issue with is "females." (You can just call us women, really.) And one truly telling tweet is a screenshot of the "Grab Her By The Brain" mobile site — the display is cut off so that it reads, "Grab Her By The Bra." Really empowering stuff.
So thanks, but no thanks. We don't need you to empower us with your dumb baseball caps. We just need you to keep your grabby fingers to yourself.