I have read some truly horrible things over this weekend, all in response to the recently released tape of Donald Trump and Billy Bush being “men” on a tour bus. If you want to refresh you memory, you can find a BBC story about it here, Shitty man says horrible things about women.
There have been a lot of apologists for this behavior, my very favorite though is that this is “locker room” talk, and “men will be men” so we should just forgive and forget, move on to the more important things, like Bill Clinton allegedly doing the exact same things Trump bragged about in the video. Ladies and gentlemen, Rape Culture.
There is no excuse for speech like this, from anybody. This should not be occurring in a locker room, this should not be occurring among our service members (like I saw repeatedly said on Dakota Meyer’s Facebook page when he denounced Trump’s behavior,) and it certainly should not be occurring among those desiring to lead us. I am however just saying what so many other people are saying so much better than myself.
There was a particular phrase that really stood out to me, “grab them by the pussy.” It is a great phrase isn’t it. Really rolls of the tongue. It says so much about how he views women. Not as a person, but as a body part. When he describes that body part it is with a sexually explicit term, not one that can be used in polite company, like vagina. No, it is a pussy. He uses violent language, he grabs it, because he can. Because he is allowed to get away with it because he is a powerful, rich, white, cisgender man. He is the definition of privileged. He knows it, and he uses it.
Let me tell you, as someone that has been repeatedly “grabbed by the pussy,” these are not harmless words, nor is it a harmless action. It may seem like a minor attack, a minor infringement on bodily integrity, but it has lasting, negative effects. Just the mere mention of it in that video was triggering for me, and I can speak with confidence that I am not the only one.
I could enumerate all of the times this particular form of sexual assault has been used against me, but I don’t think we have that much time. I can say that it has occurred in both the civilian sphere and the military sphere. It was the central part of a sexual assault I experienced in Iraq, one that took me 9 years to get help for, 9 years to start to move on from, 9 years until I could look at myself and truly understand that I was not to blame, and that I did what I needed to do to survive.
There was that time I was putting a guy in my platoon to bed in a hotel room, he was incredibly drunk, I was his medic, and I wanted to make sure he got to bed safe. While literally tucking him in, he reached into my crotch and grabbed my pussy. Two months later I had to deploy to Afghanistan with him.
Or how about that time I was on a crowded light rail going to get my car from the VA parking lot, and a sober, well dressed man put his hand up my dress and grabbed my pussy, that was super fun. I was too tired, and too depressed to do anything about it. I just didn’t want to deal with everything that went with it. Because I knew nothing would happen, heck I work in the legal system, I know nothing is going to happen. I wonder if that guy joked around about it with his friends ever, maybe over a beer, or on a bus?
Think I am an anomaly in the casual sexual assault sphere? Check out this story by the Washington Post, and then the Twitter thread that inspired it. Women Share Sexual Assault Stories.
We are fucking everywhere, and by the way, there are men as well. It is not just women, I have male friends who have been assaulted. Transgender men and women are even more likely to have been assaulted, and less likely to speak out. You, dear reader, know someone who has been assaulted, probably multiple times.
He sits on a bus and brags, his apologies are pathetic, and he has supporters everywhere still supporting him. Just as he has provided a backdrop for racists to come out of the wood work and speak loudly and proudly during this election season, he has now provided an even louder backdrop for misogynists and rapists to come out and feel even more powerful. Rapists don’t jump out of bushes, rapists look like a well dressed man on a train. Your friend walking you home after you have had a couple of drinks, your doctor, coworker, fellow platoon member, fuck they look like normal people. He has just empowered their behavior and justifications.
We need to be fucking scared of what he said. We need to stand up to the culture that supports him. We need to hold those who harm us accountable.