Rape culture is an environment in which sexual violence against women is so normalized that it is excused by most of mainstream culture.
Even if you’ve never heard the words rape culture before, you’ve probably seen it. Rape culture is someone excusing the sexually explicit behavior of men by saying, “Boys will be boys.” It’s asking a woman what she was wearing the night that she experienced a sexual assault. It’s assuming that a man can never be a victim of rape because masculinity is defined by sexual aggression and dominance.
When confronted about his derogatory and sexually aggressive comments toward women, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wrote it off as “locker room talk” that he wasn’t proud of.
In minimizing his brags about sexual assault as “locker room talk,” Trump joins the decades-old tradition of casual banter that contributes to a rhetoric that’s damaging for women and trivializes the sexual abuse of women everywhere. In fact, professional athletes, including Oakland A’s pitcher Sean Doolittle, have come out and given public statements on how incredulous Trump’s words were – that talk that vulgar would never occur in their locker rooms.
Rape culture is even prevalent in ways that people don’t realize. People often make jokes about how women go to the bathroom in packs. However, constructs like that exist because many women are terrified to go anywhere alone for fear of being verbally or physically assaulted.
Sexual assault isn’t just a statistic you read about on a mandatory training you do to register for your classes. Sexual assault is a 12-year-old girl having to experience being groped on the bus ride home from school. It is a violent rape on a night when you thought that you were just getting drinks with an old friend.
Between Brock Turner’s arrest and the joke of a prison sentence he was given, and Trump’s continuously degrading remarks about women, the inexcusable mentality of rape culture is more prevalent than ever.
When you write off or excuse the severity of Trump’s words, you become part of the problem.
When an elementary school boy slaps a little girl’s butt on the playground, she’s told that “boys will be boys.” When a sixth-grade girl wears a shirt with spaghetti straps to school, she is sent to the office because her clothes are distracting for boys, even though she had no such intention. When girls are sexualized from such a young age, people become desensitized to the constructs of gender and sexuality in our society.
It’s time to address the inane double standard that for some reason only applies to Trump’s actions and words. During the 2012 election, GOP hopeful Herman Cain bowed out of the race after several sexual harassment allegations from past employees of his.
If tapes featuring Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama or even GOP presidential hopefuls like Ted Cruz and Chris Christie were released saying sexually vulgar and aggressive comments toward men or women alike, it’s far more likely that those candidates would be asked to bow out of the race.
Why then is Trump still being considered the Republican nominee? Why are women at Trump’s rallies wearing shirts that suggest they be the ones that Trump grabs by the pussy?
Is it because of party loyalty? Or Trump’s lovable temperament? Or is it the way that our society accepts sexual abuse as a trivialized point of conversation?
Trump’s comments are far bigger than any nomination, election or future impeachment.
Women are coming out in droves, each with more and more allegations that Trump has forceably kissed or groped them in the past.
Possibly one of the most disgusting aspects of the allegations against Trump and the way that he’s handling them is that he considers himself the victim of a “distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary” and that the election is not only rigged by media preference,“ – but also at many polling places,” as stated on his Twitter account just Sunday morning.
During a campaign stop in Charlotte, North Carolina last Friday, he called himself “a victim of one of the greatest political smear campaigns in the history of our country.” When Trump portrays himself as a victim of a media smear campaign, he trivializes the emotional scars that the women he’s assaulted over the years have borne.
What Trump needs to know is that he isn’t a victim of a smear campaign – he is the culprit in a decadeslong rampage of sexual assaults against women.
First lady Michelle Obama said it best during a speech given last week in New Hampshire: “This is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful. This is intolerable.”
If we elect Trump to be the leader of our country, it’s as though voters are saying that the emotional scars of past, present and future victims of sexual assault don’t matter.
I refuse to take part in a rhetoric where my president is a culprit of sexual assault.
When victims of sexual assault see allegation after allegation against Trump on the news, they don’t just see him: they see the person that sexually assaulted them being able to hide behind the words “locker room banter” or “media smear campaign.”
It’s impossible to end rape culture overnight, but a good start would be disposing any possibility that this man can lead our country.