Unless you turned off the internet yesterday you are probably aware of the tape that emerged of Donald Trump talking about how he likes to sexually assault women. Increasing numbers of Republicans are distancing themselves from Trump by expressing their disgust at his comments and some are calling on Trump to step down as the candidate.
Frankly I’m not sure what you are upset about.
This is Trump. It is who he is and there has been evidence of it in his statements for decades. He has rated women on their appearance for years and attacked women he feels are unattractive or weigh too much. He has cheated on his wives and he has been accused of rape. There is nothing new in his comments captured on this recently released tape. I get that he explicitly confessed to sexual assault and attempted rape, but that is a picture that is pretty easy to put together from his previous comments.
This is what rape culture looks like
For those of you who aren’t sure what it means when people talk about rape culture – Donald Trump, Billy Bush and all the other guys on that bus just provided you with an example. Some of Trump’s apologists have said that this is just locker room talk between guys and we should let it go.
I totally disagree.
This is not idle chatter about how attractive someone is, Trump is confessing to sexual assault. He is talking about kissing women without their consent. He is talking about “grab[bing] them by the pussy” without consent. He said “…when you are a star, they let you do it, you can do anything.”
What the transcripts don’t capture are Billy Bush and the other guys on the bus laughing and fully encouraging Trump in his comments. This is rape culture. None of these guys interrupted to stop him. None of them said that what he was saying was not acceptable. None of them warned the actor they were going to meet to watch out for Trump and his tiny groping hands.
That is what rape culture is about. Rape culture is when we allow this kind of commentary and pretty well everything else Trump has said about women. Rape culture is the social licence that allows him and others to say this crap.
Trump’s Theme Song
Women as Objects
As the list of Republican officials denouncing his comments grows, it is important to note that most of them are not withdrawing their endorsement of him as the candidate. It is also important to look at the nature of their comments and previous behaviour. These guys and pretty well all Republicans have been objectifying women for decades.
Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz
Withdrew his endorsement of Trump, saying that he can’t vote for Trump and still look his daughter in the eye in light of Trump’s demeaning comments about women. This is the same man who, as chair of the House Oversight Committee, has repeatedly sponsored and voted for measures to deny health care funding to organizations that support a woman to make decisions about her own body. He seems to be ok looking his daughter in the eye and saying he doesn’t trust her and other women to make choices about their health and lives. He was ok endorsing Trump when we already knew that he cheated on his previous wives, when he knew that Trump had a long history of denigrating women. The only difference this time is that Trump is caught on tape, instead of believing women when they told their stories of treatment at his tiny hands.
Speaker Paul Ryan
Disinvited Trump from a joint rally scheduled for today, saying “I am sickened by what I heard today.” “Women are to be championed and revered, not objectified. I hope Mr. Trump treats this situation with the seriousness it deserves and works to demonstrate to the country that he has greater respect for women than this clip suggests.” As indicated above, this tape is not an anomaly. It is just the latest in a long line of sexist, misogynistic and abusive comments that Trump has made about and to women over many decades. His words and his actions demonstrate that he does not respect women. Ryan knows that and still he endorses Trump for the presidency. Paul Ryan isn’t much better. He has consistently opposed legislation and funding for women’s issues.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus
Still a Trump supporter and said “No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever.” Yet he leads a party that has consistently fought against equal rights for women and access to sexual health services at all levels for the duration of his tenure as chair.
Vice-Presidential Candidate Mike Pence
Still on the ticket. While he hasn’t publicly commented on Trump’s comments, he was reportedly unhappy with them. Probably because Trump got caught on tape saying them. Pence himself is no friend to women. He has played a significant role in pushing back women’s rights.
Women are people too
Chaffetz and many others are talking about how as a father of daughters or husband of wives, etc. they can’t tolerate these comments from Trump. I am a father of daughters, so I get this positioning and perspective. Nonetheless I have a problem with this focus. If we continually define women by their relations to men – daughter, sister, mother, wife, single, we deny women the status they all have and all men have – that of an individual. Every individual needs to be valued and respected as they are. We all have various identities, but men are most often identified by what they do and women are most often identified by their status in relation to men – witness the credit given to male relatives of female olympians at Rio if you need examples. We can be offended by Trump and everything that comes out of his mouth because he is a sexist racist who denigrates women and people of colour without having to identify which women are related to us.Donald Trump is a sexist, racist, bigot. Republicans need to step up and renounce his candidacy.Click To Tweet
Paul Ryan talks about needing to ‘revere’ women and not objectify them. This is a suck and blow statement. To revere women is to place them on a pedestal as an object, thereby objectifying them. Ryan has demonstrated by his actions that he does not respect women and does not believe that women should have equal rights to men. His desire to revere women instead of respect them is emblematic of many comments I have heard and read from conservatives over the years. This is the knights-in-shining armour / damsel-in-distress perspective on women. Women that need to be rescued, sometimes from themselves, but always revered. This is the same perspective that drives abstinence-only sex ed with boys and girls, mostly girls, being encouraged to preserve their purity by remaining a virgin until they are married. It is the same perspective that informs dress codes that dictate shoulder strap widths and shirt lengths.
So to all the Republicans and conservatives who are appalled at Trump’s sexual assault confession, think about your role in getting to this place. Think about how you have enabled a culture in which it is ok to look at women as objects. Consider what your support and endorsement of Donald Trump and everything he stands for means. If you are really opposed to the sentiments he has expressed in this video, you must speak up about all the comments he has made about women. If you are opposed to the comments he has made about women, you must also consider whether you support his blatant racism and religious bigotry. Everyday that you offer your support to him, you are supporting a version of society based entirely on hate and fear.
Donald Trump is a sexist, racist, anti-Muslim, war-crime advocating, fact-denying liar with ambitions for total power and he is your candidate for president.