When Rapist Brock Turner’s slap-on-the-wrist rape conviction and sentencing went viral, there were few among us who were not outraged. The case was punctuated with the letter the victim read to him in court, eloquently detailing the extent of violation. In addition to the entitlement to a woman’s body, there was the racism in all aspects of the case, from how the media covered Turner, to the sentencing, and in the mental picture many carry of what a rapist looks like. It was a repeat of what we had seen in the Stubenville, Ohio case, but this time we had a woman who was willing to take the extra, hard step of addressing her attacker, knowing it would be shared for the world to see. You couldn’t not see this case for what it was: a white man, who had been told his entire life by society that he was entitled to take what he wanted from a woman, because women aren’t fully human, and he has a future that will prevent his actions from fully bearing consequence.
We were forced to revisit this attitude again on Friday, when the Washington Post published tape of a 59-year-old Donald Trump bragging about how he can get away with anything, including sexual assault. The egregious entitlement of the man, in his own words, sickened many of us. From his assumption that he can just grab a woman by the pussy, to his discussion of the woman he’s meeting consisting of “it looks good,” Trump has made sure we, once again, see who he really is. Indeed, Jill Harth accused him of sexual assault back in the ‘90s for this very thing, and there are 20 lawsuits accusing the man or his companies of sexual harassment.
He has called Mexicans rapists. He has refused to rent apartments to black people. He has mocked people with disabilities. The racism of his supporters has slipped from the GOP standard issue subtlety into a hallmark of his campaign. His supporters mimic his bigotry. Then he has the nerve to blame a woman for her husband’s transgressions (in an apology video, no less).
Yet, here is why I am grateful for men like Brock Turner and Donald Trump: they strip away our preconceived notions of what a rapist, a racist, a homophobe, an ableist, a white supremacist is, and replace them with who these people really are: our family members, our drunk uncles, our neighbors, our coworkers.
When I watch Trump’s campaign ad with all the woe-is-me white people indignant at being called deplorable by Clinton, it occurs to me that I don’t know if I can sympathize. Sure, they all look like the hard-working Americans with families that they’re supposed to depict. That tells me nothing of whether or not they support blatant racism, or a return to white-men-only rule. I don’t know if they support an outright ban on Muslims to this country. Do they comment on internet pages and Facebook posts defending Trump’s bigotry? Do they propagate 20 and 30 year old widely discredited rumors about Hillary Clinton?
That’s the thing about this campaign, and the state of the country at this moment: we’re going to have to grapple with the ugliness of the –isms, and that’s a hell of a lot easier when there’s a spotlight shining on the Deplorable and the actual people who feed it, not just the boogeymen under the bed, or unknown assailant in the alley.
If you’re defending Trump on the basis that “Bill Clinton raped someone,” maybe explore why that seems like an acceptable thing to say, and not something that starts the Crazy Alert system in your brain. I matched with a guy on Tinder – super cute, older, told me he was an “independent” but leaned right. I asked if he’d heard the Trump tape yet; he was listening to it as we spoke. Then he told me he didn’t see anything wrong with it; besides, Bill Clinton raped someone. Uhhhhh, really, bro? Consider our date cancelled. Last I checked, the Clinton of the Bill variety wasn’t running for office in 2016.
Trump: Don’t judge me on the man I was 10 years ago. But please judge Hillary on the man her husband was 20 years ago #TrumpTapes
— Richard Hine (@richardhine) October 8, 2016
After we examine why it seems like one person’s transgressions negate another’s, we should examine who is really responsible for someone’s actions. For the party of personal responsibility, there’s a lot of weight being placed on a woman’s shoulders for her husband’s failings. We should be asking ourselves, if she had, what would your reaction have been if Hillary had divorced Bill? I can tell you, it wouldn’t be championing Hillary’s fortitude; it would have been an attack on her religious values, that she had taken Bill for better and for worse and she was a fair-weather wife.
I can guarantee you: we all know a rapist, just like we all know a racist, or a sexist, a homophobe. Some of us have dated them. Some are even married to them. The standard isn’t that we disassociate ourselves with flawed people; the standard is that we should do everything we can to prevent the perpetuation of these base iniquities.
I know people who talk like Donald Trump, with entitlement to a woman’s body. We were sitting on a rooftop on Rockies Opening Day, and a dude walked up to my friend and asked if he could motorboat her. The beauty of drinking with a bunch of feminists? We don’t hold back. That guy is no longer under the illusion that that is acceptable language, or a suitable pickup line. He may not have changed his thinking, but after 4 women look at him and express “that’s horrifying,” he probably didn’t say it again for a few weeks.
I know people who still use the word “retarded”. In one instance, a man said it, yet when another friend of mine told him that we don’t use that word anymore, and explained that it’s incredibly demeaning to people with mental disabilities, he apologized, and said he would work on purging it from use. That’s engaging in the issues in the most constructive of ways.
No. It gives parents another reason to talk to their sons about respect and consent. https://t.co/gm3ZeG9Gq3
— Daniel Munro (@dk_munro) October 8, 2016
I don’t know what conversations Bill and Hillary have had regarding his adultery, and as he’s a powerful man, that necessitates a discussion of how he uses that power to influence sexual activity. I can tell you that I’m fairly certain that Trump has never been challenged on his misogyny, on his sexually predatory nature, especially by his wife. Can you imagine Trump sitting up in his bed, listening as Melania, or Marla, or Ivana gently reminds him that these things are impolite? Maybe Ivanka has, but what the tapes released this week show that most people, his supporters included, are all too happy to accept a “boys will be boys” attitude when it comes to this playboy billionaire millionaire.
This is the most important thing we can do this election cycle, aside from electing Hillary: discuss the more deplorable parts of ourselves and our friends, openly. Now that people are showing us who they are, let’s not let it continue without attempting the brave act of confronting it.
“It’s a metaphor for America right now” – my husband after I showed him this tweet https://t.co/QnSxTfTRLI
— Katie Rogers (@katierogers) October 8, 2016
Clay County Sheriff’s Office says bald eagle is okay after getting stuck in the grille of an oncoming car pic.twitter.com/BMVY33n0mr
— ABC News (@ABC) October 8, 2016