I wasn’t planning to wade into the waters of the recent news reports detailing Donald Trump’s 2005 comments toward women, and his apparent uncontrollable attraction to them, but I’ve had enough. You can find his latest comments, and the latest background here, here, and here.
I want to take a step back, and define the larger culture at play with Trump’s latest comments. It’s called rape culture, and it’s a term from the 1970’s feminist movement designed to illustrate the ways victims of sexual assaults are blamed and shamed for the actions taken against them, along with the normalization of sexual violence. In a rape culture, both men and women accept that sexual violence against women is a fact of life. Images, jokes, banter, advertising, words, and the general atmosphere make sexual violence seem “normal.” It is anything but normal.
“We live in a culture that teaches – don’t get raped instead of don’t rape.” ~ Melissa McEwan
When I woke up this morning, I knew at a high level that the proverbial sh*& had hit the fan. I saw the headlines across the various news outlets I follow, but I decided not to read the reports. Honestly, at first, I didn’t think I needed to spend any amount of time reading the articles. I thought I’d not give it any attention. But as the day wore on, I realized I owed it not only to myself to read the articles, I owed to our daughter. This is the world we are handing her, and she, and all the other girls and women out there deserve so much better.
So, I waded in…and was shocked. Trump is not new to inappropriate comments toward women. It’s been a trend dating back to the 1990’s, and no amount of backpedaling can erase decades of lewd commentary and objectifying. These entrenched beliefs take more than “pledging to be a better person” to change. His comments are part of our larger rape culture, and only serve to further entrench the belief that women are objects to be won. We are better than this, and our collective identity is as stake.
These comments aren’t locker room guy talk. Believing that only puts down all the incredible men in this world that don’t believe women are objects. Men like my husband, our friends, leaders in our community, co-workers, and neighbors.
These aren’t comments to be spun into some other web. They are yet another example of what we are willing to accept unless we decide to say that this is enough.
This isn’t just something to brush under the rug. This matters.