I’ve made it a point to stay away from the 2016 election in this blog, frankly because it’s a hot mess. But after last night, I can stay silent no longer.
Trump’s leaked comments from 2005 are not only disgusting; they represent an important and blatant example of rape culture by proclaiming he is entitled to women’s bodies due to his fame and fortune. In case you missed it, here is a portion of the comments:
“Yeah that’s her. With the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful – I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. They let you do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy.”
The full transcription is available here.
But for me, the worst moment came last night at the presidential debate. I didn’t have high hopes for a remorseful Trump, but I expected an empty apology, some contrived air of contrition. After all, he had 48 hours to prep for this question. His team had to be ready for this.
Instead, Trump almost literally waved away the question. Instead, his response was that this was locker room talk. It was certainly not sexual assault. And let’s move on to the important issues.
I honestly did not think I could be any more disgusted with Trump, but his answer proved me wrong. I was speechless. I felt physically ill.
And to top it off, I have now seen an outpouring of support for Trump on social media. I’ve spent time – far too much time honestly – engaging these arguments, so I figure I’d address them all in one place.
Note that these are not hypothetical arguments. These are all arguments that have been said to me or in front of me since the tape was released.
1. The comments do not describe sexual assault. This is untrue. The statements are, by definition, referring to sexual assault. The damning phrase is “I don’t even wait“. This isn’t just men having a vulgar conversation about women. This is Trump asserting that he physically gropes women before they have consented. If consent has not been given, the act is assault. Say it with me: if consent has not been given, the act is assault.
It’s also worth noting that Trump says women “let” him do it. Just because a woman is not screaming or fighting you off does not mean she has consented. And if you have to talk her into it, guess what – that’s coerced consent.
Consent must be given freely and enthusiastically. Always. No exceptions. Not even for billionaires. More on that in a moment.
2. It’s “locker room talk”/all men talk like that. Do men talk about their sex lives? Absolutely. Here’s a shocker: women do too. But there is a difference between talking sex and bragging about disrespecting, demeaning and assaulting women. To dismiss the conversation as “locker room talk” sweeps the problem under the rug and ignores the very real threat of sexual violence women face every day.
I like to think the vast majority of men don’t brag about sexual assault in private conversations, but if this is what you hear in your locker room, and you don’t speak up, you’re part of the problem.
3. We’ve all said things we regret. Similar to the above point, this is a dismissive comment intended to get Trump off the hook. I’ve said a lot of things I regret. But Trump’s conversation is not even remotely comparable to me saying “Mom I hate you!!!” when I was 15.
2. Of course women want to sleep with him. He’s a billionaire. This is an interesting argument because it is built on sexism and doesn’t try to hide it. Women are gold-diggers by nature and will open their legs for any wealthy man, no matter who he is.
The obvious statement to make here is that it’s not true. Plenty of women would not sleep with Donald Trump no matter how many zeroes are in his bank account. On the flip side, I’m sure many women would.
However, that is not Trump’s choice to make. Assuming a woman wants to sleep with you is the backbone of rape culture, depriving the woman of her right to her own body and her own right to say no.
3. Women like to be treated that way. This was truly something that was said to me today. “Maybe they [women] didn’t want him to wait. Ever think of that?”
No. No woman wants to be “grabbed by the pussy” without consenting. The fact that I even have to say that is deeply unsettling. Again, this is the backbone of rape culture – depriving women of their right to say no. According to this narrative, men are entitled to our bodies and consent is merely a formality, instead of a mandatory prerequisite.
4. They’re just words. Hardly. Trump’s comments make it clear that he has taken these actions. Note the statement is “I don’t even wait”, not the hypothetical “I wouldn’t even wait”.
Furthermore, these words are advocating sexual violence against women. Which is a problem. Do I sound like a broken record yet? Good.
And for anyone who didn’t know, Trump has been accused of rape three times – including a case currently pending involving the rape of an underage girl.
5. But Hillary Clinton/Bill Clinton is a liar/murderer/adulterer/corrupt politician/etc. If you were ever a kid who brought home a bad grade, you might have tried the “but Mom, EVERYONE else got a bad/worse grade!”
That’s basically this argument. It didn’t work then, and it doesn’t work now. I would be happy to write a separate blog post about Hillary Clinton – but Trump and his comments have nothing to do with her, and nothing she has done can excuse his behavior.
6. Isn’t this just like 50 Shades of Grey? This is not a joke, this is a meme being widely shared on social media. I have other issues with the book, but the two are absolutely not comparable. Since I assume no one sharing this photo has actually read the book, let me clarify the differences: all acts in the book are consensual, it’s a love story that ends in marriage, and oh, yeah, it’s FICTION.
Even for those among us who choose to support Donald Trump, I implore you to see these comments for what they are and condemn them. Even if you will continue to support Donald Trump, please take a moment to realize how utterly dangerous and unacceptable this attitude toward women is. If you choose to defend this behavior, you are part of the problem. And the problem is not that “words hurt” – the problem is that sexual violence is a threat that women continue to experience every day.
There are many reasons I will not be voting for Donald Trump come November, and this has certainly become one of the biggest. It is unacceptable to have a President that proudly advocates sexual assault. Unfortunately, these statements will join the dozens of comments Trump has made that proves he has absolutely no respect for women – or the disabled, Muslims, African Americans, POWs and Mexicans.