Here's What Young Boys Can Learn from Billy Bush's Interview About the Infamous 'Pussy' Tape

May 24th 2017

Danielle DeCourcey

Billy Bush finally opened up about his role in the infamous "grab them by the pussy" tape, and his comments reveal something boys and young men need to learn.


The 2005 video released by the The Washington Post in October of 2016 caused a national controversy for revealing a lewd conversation between the former "Access Hollywood" host and President Donald Trump, who was a reality television star at the time.


In the recording, Trump brags about grabbing women "by the pussy," and Bush encourages Trump to hug an actress just moments after they have an objectifying conversation about her. Trump seems to be leading the conversation, but as the recording progresses Bush becomes increasingly more enthusiastic and involved.

Although Trump went on to win the presidency after the recording was released, Bush lost his job at NBC's Today show.

In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter published on May 21, Bush talked about the scandal for the first time publicly.

Bush said he should have changed the topic instead of joining Trump, but it was too difficult.

"Looking back upon what was said on that bus, I wish I had changed the topic. [Trump] liked TV and competition. I could've said, 'Can you believe the ratings on whatever?' But I didn't have the strength of character to do it."

Whether Bush's comments are genuine or not, they speak to the link between social pressure and misogyny.

A study published in 2014 led by researchers at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom showed that a "herd mentality" in humans means neighbors and peers can have a powerful influence on behavior, even overruling the person's own judgment.

There are some extreme examples of this phenomenon.

In 2011, sociologist Elaine Replogle analyzed the public group sexual assault of foreign correspondent Lara Logan in terms of group social pressure. Replogle found that Logan's status as an outsider in Egypt may have both caused the mob to single her out, and inspired bystanders to rescue her.

The "herd mentality" later received attention in the aftermath of hundreds of reported sexual assaults in Cologne, Germany on New Year's Eve in 2016.

Researchers Mina Cikara and Adrianna Jenkins wrote that "crowds may also change what constitutes seemingly appropriate behavior (what psychologists call social proof): if everybody else is doing something, it seems more justified or correct."

Young men often link their masculinity to degrading women.

In 2014, Angela Chaplin, of HuffPost wrote about the pressure young males face to exhibit sexually aggressive, and at times even violent, behavior toward women.

"An extremely polite, 29-year-old friend of mine said 'I was having conversations like that when I was 16 and at the same time I wanted to fall in love and give a girl flowers,'" wrote Chaplin. "He just couldn't talk about the second part, cause, you know, in the twisted world of male pressure being romantic with a woman is 'gay.'"

She wrote that men feel like "being a man" means dominating women, and that ideology significantly contributes to rape culture.

"Instead of being able to speak truthfully among one another, men feel pressure to brag about the number of girls they've slept with, how many tequila shots they fed those girls and how they degraded them during sex," she wrote.

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