THIS IS WHAT I KNOW-By now, we’ve all heard the Access Hollywood tape from 2005. Presidential candidate Donald Trump joked with Billy Bush about “moving on her (Nancy O’Dell) like a b*tch”” and how fame is an open door to grabbing women’s genitals.
In Sunday’s debate, when CNN’s Anderson Cooper confronted Trump about his comments, which the moderator characterized as sexual assault, Trump brushed off the tape as “locker room talk” and “just words.”
Trump supporters are sharing a viral meme created by Liberty Writers that asks, “If American women are so outraged at Trump’s use of naughty words, then who the hell bought 80 million copies of Fifty Shades of Grey?”
I’m a feminist, a woman, a mother of two daughters. As Trump and his team of surrogates, including the ever-present Rudy Giuliani, minimize the impact of Trump’s characterization of sexual acts and women, I say, “Mr. Trump, words count.”
When I was growing up in the seventies, we were taught “Sticks and stones can break my bones” but Harvard University psychiatrists have concluded that for children, verbal abuse can be as harmful as physical abuse, sexual abuse outside the home or witnessing physical abuse at home and likely has lifelong consequences.
It’s not the “naughty words” in a pretty third-rate erotica series that upset women -- perhaps ironically, per the Washington Post, the states with the top ten highest pre-ticket sales before the film’s release were all in heavily Evangelical Red States -- it’s the blatant disrespect for women and the minimizing of sexual assault.
The Access Hollywood tapes show the @TheRealDonaldTrump, to borrow from Trump’s 3 am Twitter account, his unfiltered musings that because he is famous, he can do whatever he wants to women: “just grab them by the p*ssy” and kiss them without “waiting” for consent show his true character.
Trump’s objectification of women didn’t start and did not end with this 2005 tape. He’s spent most of this election cycle humiliating women and just about any other group he can muster. He has called women pigs and slobs; implied Megyn Kelly had her menstrual cycle. He rates women from one to ten and makes sexually suggestive comments about his own daughter. This matters. The blatant objectification of women is at the root of sexual violence, as in, “She deserved it.”
Women make up the majority in this country. We’re mothers, professionals, students, nurses, teachers, doctors, attorneys, journalists. We’re somebody’s daughter, sister, or friend. We are not a collection of body parts. We have the ability to consent to sexual interactions or turn them away. We deserve to be respected.
Donald Trump and his band of surrogates have dismissed his disparaging remarks. “Let’s talk about something more serious. According to Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), there are over 280,000 rape and sexual assault victims over the age of 12 in the U.S. each year. For every 1,000 rape cases, 994 perpetrators walk away.”
Rape and sexual assault, Mr. Trump, are serious issues. And words count.
(Beth Cone Kramer is a Los Angeles writer and a columnist for CityWatch.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.