There is a fundamental contradiction in our attitude toward sexual violence — and Donald Trump embodies it perfectly.
After I watched the second debate, beat my breast in mourning, and wiped my tears off my laptop screen , I realized which part of Trump’s soul-killing word diarrhea I hated most.
It was a line I have heard, practically verbatim, from not one but multiple men whom I have confronted for sexual harassment: “I have great respect for women. No one has more respect for women than me.”
Give me a fucking break.
“No no,” this logic goes. “You, woman, are wrong. I could not possibly have assaulted/harassed you, you see, because I, Mr. Important Sun Shines out of My Ass Misogynist, respect women. Not only do I respect women, little lady, I respect women more than anyone else in the entire world. More than bell hooks. More than Gloria Steinem. And certainly more than you.”
On one hand, these words from Trump’s orange lips are so blatantly hypocritical they make my head explode into a thousand tiny glass shards. How can someone so sexist that Tic Tac the mint company issued a statementagainst him claim to respect women?
But actually, if we examine our culture’s broader conversation about sexual assault, Trump’s statement that he “respects woman” is more normal than we’d like to think.
Everyone loves to say they are against sexual assault and rape. Hell, plenty of rapists say they are against sexual assault and rape. Yet while 91% of Americans believe that “women should have the same rights as men,” sexual violence remains so normalized that many still consider raping an unconscious woman not “real” violence but “twenty minutes of action.”
We can see this even in recent coverage of Trump’s comments. As many have very ably said in the past few days, perhaps even more fucked up than Trump’s words are conservatives’ (and some liberals’) responses to them.
There’s the problem of where, exactly, our priorities are as a country. Trump has said all kinds of vile, racist, quasi-genocidal shit about people of color—you may just remember a little proposal to, oh I don’t know, ban Muslims from entering the country—yet Trump still received his party’s endorsement.
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