*Content Warning: details about sexual abuse*
It can be hard to focus through all the commotion in the media recently. Men all around the country are falling from their esteemed positions due to allegations of sexual misconduct. Men from all walks of public life have been getting away with criminal behavior against others with no repercussions, leaving countless people feeling violated and alone. Fortunately, many victims have spoken up and brought the issue to the attention of international audiences, and bringing a sense of solidarity to the community of victims with the hashtag #MeToo. Still, amidst the criminal charges, firings, and public outcry, the President of the United States has not been held to the same standard.
Don Lemon of CNN Tonight released a segment on all the victims that have so far alleged assault by the President of the United States. Thirteen women have courageously come forward to describe in detail their experiences with the President in the past years. From groping to derogatory language, to solicitation of suggestive dates for money, to his most infamous comment to date with Access Hollywood.
To put the President’s actions into perspective, President Clinton was impeached in 1998 for denying claims of sexual harassment with his secretary. With evidence of the sexual contact on tape by lawyers, the House of Representatives found him guilty of lying under oath and for obstruction of justice. The number of victims does not dictate the severity of the crime, as every incident of sexual misconduct is damaging to the victim(s) in personal ways. However, strictly in a legal context, if a previous president was removed from office for lying about sexually assaulting a woman, what punishment should we expect from a president actively lying about his involvement in possibly multiple assaults? How can we even determine his innocence or guilt if the allegations against Trump have not even been taken seriously or investigated?
More inquiry needs to be conducted on Trump and his behaviors with women, but unfortunately sexual assault is not being prioritized like Trump’s involvement in other issues within his administration. Ironically, Hollywood and people in the celebrity sphere are being held accountable more so than our public officials. They are facing real punishments for their crimes: investigations, lawsuits, criminal charges, unemployment, and public shame. Louis C.K. lost his affiliation with Netflix. Matt Lauer was fired from his journalism position. Yet Trump gets to keep his job? Why are there seemingly no repercussions for him?
Frankly, the victims are not even prioritized in this discussion, as men have publicly slandered their accusers, shamed them, and used the hashtag #NotAllMen, a movement to express how men are now suffering in American society after these recent allegations. Some have even come forward to express their new victim complex, afraid to interact with women in fear of treating women without dignity and respect, and getting called out for it. As men are becoming more aware of how they interact with the opposite sex, they get a feeling for how women operate every day around men- with constant caution. A single conversation with a co-worker can be interpreted as a come-on. One moment without full consideration can quickly become an at-risk situation. Women should not have to live like this. Maybe when the discomfort that women experience can be imposed upon men, even in a small way like the currently social climate, we can create change. Until the abuse of women is taken seriously in our country, though, we wait, hopefully learning of more strong survivors coming forward against their abusers.
We as a culture must recognize women as important enough to address assault on every level of society. This means that every person is held accountable for their actions, including Trump. As an alleged abuser, he deserves to be charged to the full extent of the law, no matter his title.