Last night’s debate will be remembered as one of the saddest days in American politics.
It has been more than 16 months, since Donald Trump announced his presidency, by way of a stream of consciousness—no one would call it a speech-- so vile and riddled with stereotypes, hatred, and utter foolishness, it has set American democracy into a complete tailspin.
This spin hit what I hope is rock bottom when the Washington Post uncovered a videotape of Donald Trump and Billy Bush, former host of Access Hollywood, on a “hot mic” discussing women’s bodies and what Trump believes he has the ability to do to them because he’s a star: “When you’re a star they let you do whatever you want. You can even grab them by the pu**y,” he says.
Since its release the tape has gone viral, Billy Bush who just joined the Today Show has been suspended, countless Republicans have jumped off the Trump train rescinding their endorsements, Speaker Paul Ryan on a conference call with Republicans today said that he will “no longer defend Donald Trump” and yet the Republican nominee still remains unapologetic and defiant.
At the second presidential debate, Donald Trump dismissed the seriousness of his language which many have deemed “violent”, promoting sexual assault, and disgusting by calling it “locker room talk”. Referring to grabbing a woman by her genitals against her will isn’t “locker room talk” it’s the very definition of rape culture at best and sexual assault at worse.
Here’s what we know to be true, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center:
- 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted and/or raped at some time in their lives.
- Nearly 1 in 10 women have been raped by an intimate partner.
- A study conducted by the Black Women’s Blueprint found that 60 percent of black girls have experienced sexual abuse.
- 1 in 4 black girls will be sexually assaulted by the time they are 18 years old.
These assaults, this culture of rape started in the locker room. It started by men being able to “bond” over the objectification and sexualization of women’s bodies—and society has condoned it by declaring that “boys will be boys.” Boys will be boys indeed, until they turn into boys and men that rape.
According to a definition provided by Marshall University:
Rape culture is an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture. Rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence, thereby creating a society that disregards women’s rights and safety.
Donald Trump and his actions are the epitome of rape culture and white male privilege—since he is rich, famous and white he can do and say whatever he wants without any repercussions. If you think that this behavior is limited to Trump and or the “locker room”-- guess again.
Just recently Americans sat back in horror after Brock Turner, a white male swimmer dubbed the “Stanford Rapist”, received a 6-month sentence for raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. During his sentencing Turner’s father thought it ridiculous that his son serves anytime for a “20-minute indiscretion.” His father thought that his son being caught with his pants down raping an unconscious woman was an “indiscretion” that he shouldn’t be held accountable for—because she was unconscious and therefore wouldn’t remember.
His dismissal of his son’s reprehensible actions and Donald Trump’s dismissal at the second presidential debate of his language is a symptom of a much larger issue in our country—rape culture and the dismissal of women as nothing more than body parts to be used and mishandled in anyway a celebrity or star athlete feels.
The perpetuation of violence against women begins with the language that we use to refer to women and their bodies.
Not too long ago another case made the headlines when a sexual assault of a young teenage girl was filmed and streamed on social media by teens in Steubenville, Ohio. The teens can be seen laughing and joking as they performed sexual acts on an unconscious girl. They didn’t even think twice about what they had done because it was “all in good fun” in their minds—the courts in this case thought otherwise. However, the entire town was torn apart because the boys that sexually assaulted the young girl were “stars of the football team.”
See the connection?
Donald Trump’s dismissal last night of his revolting behavior is just another thread in the quilt of rape culture and violence directed at women—except this time the assailant isn’t a jock on a school campus in a locker room; but a man that is just inches away from the holding the highest office in land.