If you haven’t learned by now, I am far from a shrinking violet… I don’t have a lot of fear when it comes to speaking my mind and calling things as they are. However, sometimes it doesn’t matter how often you call something out or work actively against it because, regardless of any efforts, it will persist. The specific “it” in this instance is sexual assault/harassment.
In writing this post, I spent a pretty significant time trying to find some hard stats on the number of women in the US who experience some form of sexual harassment during their lives. The data was overwhelming. The percentages existed on a staggering range, varied based on location, and varied based on age and education level. It would be impossible to parse all of this out and present it to you cohesively in this blog post, but suffice it to say that you would be hard-pressed to find a woman who has not, at some point in her life, experienced sexual harassment, sexual assault, and/or rape.
Knowing this and knowing who our current president is creates for many women a trigger that is constant and invasive at every level of her life. DJT bragged about touching women without their permission (read: sexual assault) and women all over the world felt like their breath had just been sucked out of them. At least, I know that I did.
And the fact of the matter is: this is not the only bit of evidence that has surfaced proving that our commander-in-chief is a sexual predator. In 1990, Trump’s first wife, Ivana, stated that he raped her. She later amended her statement to say that he “violated” her; she then received a 14 million dollar settlement. I’ll leave you to decide whether that later “amendment” is even really worth considering. He was also accused of raping a 13-year-old girl, a case which was dropped later due to constant death threats and pressure placed on the victim.
The fact that America was willing to elect this man in spite of this is the precise reason that so many such cases are dropped. It is an exemplification on the grandest scale of why so many women are afraid to report; America will find a way to make an excuse… to blame the victim… and make it all go away. And if the man you’re accusing has power, money, or race on his side? Well then forget it.
There are white men reading this right now who are going: NO! That’s just not true. But let me just go ahead and show you a few things.
Should I keep going? Or are you sufficiently sick yet?
I completely understand that rapists and assailants come in ALL races and nationalities, but it is a fact that men of color who commit these crimes are far more likely to be convicted and will serve much harsher sentences than white men.
White Privilege + Rape Culture = how Trump ended up president in spite of the 2005 tapes, the 1990 allegations, and the many other charges and claims laid against him. We all know that had he been a black man, there’s not a chance in hell he would have made it to the White House.
Race aside, though: women who have endured sexual trauma are struggling with Trump’s win. They are struggling with what is now being called Post Election Stress Disorder (PESD). It’s hard to face the fact that a man can do to women the things that DJT has done, but still become POTUS.
I have heard it argued that since the cases were dropped and the statements were changed, holding the accusations against him is wrong. I reject that. These women were coerced, either with threats, cash, or both, to withdraw their statements. A withdrawal of a statement does not mean the event did not occur, it just means they were manipulated into keeping their mouths shut. In addition, many women who have made accusations stand by their stories. The response from DJT’s followers has been disheartening and is truly the reason women don’t report. The fact that only 1 in 5 Republicans thought that his remarks regarding sexual assault should disqualify him reinforce that.
Let’s dig even deeper. Based on the Presidential Election Panel Survey (PEPS) shared in this article, voters who believed that “women who complain about harassment often cause more problems than they solve” were significantly more likely to support Trump than Republicans who disagreed with that statement. This poll went on to assert that 84% of Republicans said that Trump’s remarks and behaviors re: sexual assault/harassment wouldn’t change the way they vote.
One Republican politician, Christopher von Keyserling, even followed Trump’s lead. He decided to aggressively grope a female staffer’s vagina without her permission while proclaiming how in this new Trump era, he no longer has to be politically correct and can touch her in whichever way he pleases. If you don’t find this disheartening and sickening, then you probably suck. I’m sorry; that was wrong. You definitely suck.
So in sum? Rape culture is alive and well. Women who are assaulted are viewed as a minor inconvenience on the white man’s path to power. And literally nothing, not even rape accusations and RECORDINGS of DJT bragging about sexual assault, would deter a large portion of the Republicans from supporting him.
But in spite of all of this, I would like to end with the following:
To my reSISTERS,
Remember that you are more than survivors. You are fighters. And together, we’ve got this. We need to love, lean on, and support one another. We need to make sure we are staying strong and vigilant because we are living in a time where men are empowered to have their way with us. They are empowered because they do so with near impunity and because the man who leads our nation has normalized sexual assault as mere “locker room” behavior. In times like these, we need to keep our heads up and our senses well attuned because, truly, we are at risk.
And so, we need to practice self-care. We need to continue to use whatever therapeutic practices we are using to maintain our resolve. We might even need to find new ones (Blog!). Rape culture is a very real hurdle, but the Resistance is prepared to overcome it… along with all of the other hate and oppression Donald Trump has brought out in this nation.
Again: together, we’ve got this.
In the words of Coretta Scott King, “Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.”
The Off-White Girl