Recently a video has leaked of presidential candidate Donald Trump making extremely vulgar remarks about women, including describing kissing them without consent and being entitled to "grab them by the p*ssy" because of his fame.
He released an apology in which he said that he was embarrassed by the words but that they were a "distraction from the important issues facing us today."
Sexual assault is an important issue affecting us today. According to RAINN (Rape Abuse and Incest National Network), every 2 minutes an American is sexually assaulted. 1 out of every 6 woman has been the victim of a rape or attempted rape.1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18. This is a very real and very important issue.
For me, when I hear Trump say these things I don't think of statistics, I think of names and faces. I think of people I know and love who have experienced sexual assault first hand. Classmates, friends, family, neighbors. Those strong survivors are who come to mind when I hear Trump's words about groping women.
But they're just words right?
It's not like Trump actually did anything.
Except he did. First, the tape certainly sounds like bragging about actual actions. But in addition to that, there have been multiple sexual assault cases filed against Donald throughout the years.
His ex-wife, Ivana Trump, accused him of raping her in a fit of rage in 1989. Her accusation that he violently assaulted her and raped her was stated in her 1990 divorce deposition. Although he was never charged, the divorce was due to Trump's "cruel and inhumane" treatment of Ivana.
In 1997, Trump was again accused of violent sexual misconduct. Jill Harth, a business acquaintance, accused him of groping her repeatedly, attempting to rape her, and aggressively petitioning her to sleep with him beginning in 1994. She describes being terrified of losing the business deal she and her boyfriend were making with Trump, but also being terrified that he would rape her. Because of his position of power over her, she didn't report the crime to the police and instead waited three years before filing a lawsuit.
Sounds an awful like what Trump described when he bragged to Billy Bush about using his fame and power to allow him to do whatever he wanted to women.
A third and final case is still awaiting hearing. Jane Doe has accused Donald Trump of initiating sexual contact with her on 4 occasions in 1994, while she was only 13. On the fourth occasion she claims she was tied to a bed by Trump and raped. Adding strength to her case is the other defendant listed; Jeffrey Epstein, a Level 3 Sex Offender of whom Trump once said "“I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side." In addition to her own testimony, Jane Doe's case is supported by the eyewitness of a woman referred to as Tiffany Doe who claims to have been in charge of recruiting young girls for parties with Epstein and Trump and being present when the assaults occurred.
Trump's "locker room talk" is not just words. Locker room talk might involve vulgar sexual dialogue, but it is referencing consensual acts. Donald Trump bragged explicitly about non-consensual acts and then attempted to normalize this type of behavior and language. This is a man who has no respect for women and encourages a rape culture in which sexual violence is normalized. If any of the accusations against him are true, then he is a rapist and should be punished. If they are false, then he is innocent of any sexual crime, but still must be held accountable for contributing to national dialogue against women.