Trump: Sexual Assault Reports Growing Rapidly
Common wisdom is that the 2016 Presidential election is a whole new kind of disturbing beast, and the closer we draw to election day the truer this seems to be. Recently leaked audio1 from a 2005 discussion with a live mic revealed what Trump (and his supporters) have categorized as locker room talk. The banter includes Trump making comments along the lines of:
“I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there – and she was married.”
“You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful – I just start kissing them.”
“And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy... You can do anything.”
Okay – let’s start with the obvious. The language and commentary Trump provided was inappropriate, but hardly anyone would pretend otherwise at this point. The general defense provided, though, is that this was locker room banter – essentially men making bold, likely exaggerated claims behind closed doors. However, let’s take a few minutes to consider the implications – both in light of the values of the GOP and more recent events.
First and foremost – the language used isn’t nearly as troubling as the acts being described. The first quote cited highlights Trump trying to seduce a married woman. The fact that he calls her a bitch – an act easily argued as dehumanizing – is troubling. The fact that he was actively and knowingly pursuing a married woman seems far more detached from the purported values of the Republican establishment. The second and third quotes, though, present a far more grim reality. These two quotes describe what is, in no uncertain terms, sexual assault. They describe a man with no restraint and an extreme sense of entitlement - traits which seem about as undesirable as possible in a potential leader of the free world.
Again: Trump and his supporters have fallen back primarily on the defense that this is locker room banter. However, locker room banter is generally about sexual experience – not sexual attacks. Men may readily speak about their sexual conquests, but there is a world of difference between bragging about a sexual relationship and bragging about assault or rape. What may be the most terrifying part is that Trump and his supporters don’t seem to see, or want to see, this distinction. The secondary defense Trump has provided has been to cite unwanted sexual advances perpetrated by former President Bill Clinton. While these claims merit attention and are troubling as well, the defense presented amounts to ‘if he did it I should be able to as well.’ This defense utterly fails to recognize the behavior attributed to both men in these instances is unacceptable in the extreme.
The sole redeeming factor could be that, if Trump can be taken at his word and if what he was saying was just ‘talk’ – then it was inappropriate but not necessarily describing actual actions. The problem is that since then we’ve seen multiple women come forward with accounts that virtually mirror Trump’s own claims2. Additionally, accounts have come forward of Trump entering the dressing room while contestants were changing during the Miss Teen USA competition3. In essence, we’ve gone from Trump speaking inappropriately about women, to Trump reported sexually assaulting multiple women, to Trump acting as a voyeur on teenage girls at a beauty contest. Hillary Clinton spoke of some Trump supporters as being a ‘basket of deplorables,’ only to face a fair amount of pushback. Given the events of the last two weeks, though, it is increasingly appearing as though Trump carries enough deplorable on his own. Whatever virtues, knowledge, or skillsets Trump brings to the table as a Presidential candidate, his disregard and disrespect for the female portion of our country and species morally disqualifies him from the office. How can he hope to represent female citizens in good faith when he treats them as sexual objects for his personal amusement?
1 - CBS News video of the 2005 live mic incident: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFEqVARTYkY
2 - CNN listing numerous, heroic women stepping forward to speak out about sexual assault experiences from Trump: http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/14/politics/trump-women-accusers/
3 - The Telegraph covering reports that Trump walked in on Miss Teen USA contestants in the dressing room: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/10/12/former-miss-teen-usa-contestants-claim-donald-trump-walked-in-on/