My blog on National Coming Out Day (October 11) left out an important group of people who are still in the closet–the women who have been sexually assaulted. During the fast few days, millions of these brave women have started to leave their closets although it’s proving dangerous in many cases.
The media is now focusing on the growing number of women who are telling how Donald Trump sexually attacked them in a rejection of Trump’s claims that his infamous “grab them by the p***y” statement were “just words.” They all have the same reason: at Sunday night’s debate Trump blatantly insisted that he had never sexually assaulted any women in an effort to protect himself from criticism regarding his coarse language about women.
Trump’s response was typical of his approach to accusations by calling them all “horrible, horrible liars.” He also told his audiences that he could not possibly have attacked these women because they were so physically unappealing. After declaring that the stories of sexual assault against a woman on an airplane was a “totally fabricated and false story,” Trump said, “Take a look … at her. You tell me what you think. I don’t think so.” The words were accompanied with a sneer, and the crowds cheered. He used the same words when he accused a reporter of lying about his sexual assault on her.
Trump’s language about women has been devastating to them even if they have not been sexually assaulted. On the campaign trail tonight, an 11-year-old Girl Scout asked VP candidate Mike Pence a question. She brought up some of Trump’s language about women’s bodies and said, “When I hear those words and look in the mirror, they make me feel bad about myself.” Pence’s solution for her concerns is that the GOP foreign policy will keep her safe by destroying ISIS.
Why didn’t the People staff writer Natasha Stoynoff make the attack public when it first happened? This is her answer:
“Like many women, I was ashamed and blamed myself for his transgression. I minimized it (‘It’s not like he raped me…’); I doubted my recollection and my reaction. I was afraid that a famous, powerful, wealthy man could and would discredit and destroy me, especially if I got his coveted people feature killed. ‘I just want to forget it ever happened,’ I insisted.” But when she saw Trump deny putting his offensive words into action, she could no longer forget.”
Many women who report sexual assaults aren’t believed. If they push the issue, they usually run the chance of being punished. Conservative male politicians and pundits are now accusing the women telling their stories about Trump for being opportunists. Yet some of the women have talked about their experiences throughout the campaign, and the people largely ignored them because of their illogical hatred for Hillary Clinton. The media also failed to widely publish the information.
In his support of Trump’s sexual assault “locker room talk” and behavior, Rush Limbaugh ridiculed liberals for the importance of consent in “American sexual mores.” Limbaugh ranted:
“If the left ever senses and smells that there’s no consent in part of the equation, then here come the rape police. But consent is the magic key to the left.”
In his attempt to indicate the absurdity of this law, Rush Limbaugh is really correct. Consent really is the “magic key”: the Justice Department defines sexual assault as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.”
Yet Limbaugh, often recognized as a leader of the conservatives, believes that women don’t have the right to protect themselves by refusing to give consent. Other conservative leaders follow his lead. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) said that he might continue to support Trump even if the GOP candidate said, “I really like to rape women.” It should be noted that Farenthold was sued two years ago for creating “a hostile work environment” and sexual harassment.” He allegedly told his communications director at the time, Lauren Greene, that he had “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about her. The case was eventually settled out of court.
The escape that conservatives use to justify for their continued support of Trump is to “condemn” his words but then stand by him. For example, evangelical leader Jerry Falwell, Jr., president of Liberty University, claims that Trump is a “changed” man. Conservatives like Dave Daubenmire think that “it’s better for a president to grab a vagina than have one.” Falwell ignores the Trump of today who still maligns women, claims he will send Hillary Clinton to prison without legal justification, defrauds people, and constant lies about his personal and professional affairs.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory defends Trump by saying that Hillary Clinton’s statements are just as bad. “She lies an awful lot,” he said, which is in itself if not a lie than a massive misrepresentation not supported by evidence. At least Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), who is running for re-election, had the good sense to take back her statement that Trump is a “role model for youth.”
Newt Gingrich didn’t even deny Jessica Leeds’ description of Trump’s touching her breasts and putting his hands up her skirt when she sat next to him in first class. Instead, he referred to the disgusting event as “a bad airplane flight.”
Dave Zirin explains how males provide the impetus in forcing women to keep their experiences of being sexually assaulted a secret. He tells about not calling out the bragging of an upperclassmate about making women have sex with him and telling a story about his attack on a girl. Zirin wrote that he kept quiet because he didn’t want to “look like a loser” but went home ashamed. The bragging student was later accused of rape but allowed to quietly leave the school without prosecution. Zirin emphasized the importance of confronting predators, something that three-fourths of the GOP political leaders refuse to do. The secrecy of sexual assault creates a rape culture.
As tragic as these sexual assault stories demonstrate the rape culture throughout the nation, woman who have been attacked are coming out of the closet. Huffington Post is keeping a list of women who describe Donald Trump’s assault on them, including Trump’s first wife and a woman suing Trump for rape when she was 13 years old. New Yorker has descriptions of sexual allegations against Trump.
Author Kelly Oxford used social media to expose stories of attacks when she asked women to tweet about their first sexual assaults last Friday. Over 30 million people have read or answered Oxford about their initial sexual abuses. Goldie Taylor, Daily Beast editor-at-large, started another Twitter conversation after Trump supporters like Joe Scarborough slammed women because they didn’t immediately report the assaults. Taylor tweeted, “How long did it take you speak publicly about your sexual abuse and name the perpetrator? It took me 30 years.” She had never told friends, family, or even her partner about the assault.
In all his horribleness, Trump may have opened the closet for millions of victims of sexual assault.