Donald Trump has been revealed as a sexual predator, but only 12 percent of registered Republicans think that he should drop out of the presidential campaign after they heard about his sexual assaults. His supporters claim that all men engage in the kind of talk from Trump’s conversation with Billy Bush or, Pat Robertson’s defense, Trump was just being “macho.” After a number of women accused Trump of assault and not “just words,” Trump called all of them liars and rejected their claims, supported by the women’s conversations at the time that Trump sexually attacked them. Trump’s campaign has also threatened legal action against the women. Thus the vast majority of Republicans have joined Trump and his campaign in their attempt to normalize a rape culture, the belief that men have unlimited rights to women’s bodies by downplaying sexual assault and denying the women’s stories.
The last presidential candidates’ town hall addressed Trump’s behavior, but men were not at all concerned about the issue. By contrast, Trump’s sexual predation was Number One. Soraya Chemaly, the director of the Women’s Media Center Speech Project, pointed out:
“It is an abstraction for most men. To try to explain why sexual harassment, street harassment, the threat of rape, affects our ability to go to school, walk freely, to get jobs, to keep working in certain places, it’s like it doesn’t matter. It’s like it’s just a trivial thing. And clearly, women’s response to this indicates that it’s not trivial to them.”
A judgment in a Montana court shows that the judge believes rape is inconsequential. Forty-year-old Martin Blake of Glasgow (MT) admitted to three counts of rape and incest and was convicted for one rape. He pled out of a 100-year sentence to receive 30 years, yet Judge John C. McKeon suspended the prison term and gave him 60 days in jail minus the 17 days he had already served. McKeon found that this 60-day term and registering as a sex offender was sufficient for a man who raped his 12-year-old daughter.
Licensed clinical social worker Michael Sullivan testified that Blake would benefit more from community-based sex-offender treatment than from a prison term. Sullivan said that social support during his treatment was vital because he had lost his job and family. At this time, Blake lives with his mother, who spoke on his behalf. Public defender Casey Moore used Blake’s admission to his crimes as a plus on his side, but his “honesty” may have come from the fact that the girl’s mother walked into the room during one of the rapes.
“I’m not asking that he be given a slap on the wrist. He did spend 17 days in jail and he did lose his job, and will be on supervision for the rest of his life.”
The girl’s grandmother was concerned about how a prison term would impact the lives of Blake’s two sons. “His children, especially his sons, will be devastated if their dad is no longer part of their lives,” she said.
McKeon claimed that the sentence was commensurate to the nature and degree of harm and then insisted that Blake’s sentence was appropriate and safe, that the conditions of the sentence are “quite restrictive” and “quite rigorous.” Basically, Blake has to have a job, stay away from those under 18 years old without prior approval, and avoid sexual materials.
McKeon was upset because the prosecuting attorney said that Blake should be held accountable because he “repeatedly raped his daughter.” Jenson shouldn’t have brought up multiple incidents of incest, according to McKeon, because sentencing was for only one count of incest although the psychological evaluation submitted as a court document referenced the three sexual assaults.
More than 1,000 residents have called for removal of the judge, and a petition has almost 30,000 signatures censuring him. But McKeon gets off free because he starts collecting retirement from Montana taxpayers at the end of November.
Montana has gained national media coverage in the past for its light sentences. In 2013, District Judge G. Todd Baugh of Billings sentenced former high school teacher Stacey Rambold to 30 days in prison after suggesting the 14-year-old victim—Rambold’s former student—was equally responsible for the 2007 rape. Public outcry resulted in Judge Randal Spaulding resentencing Rambold to ten years. The victim had committed suicide in 2010.
Nick Bata, Libertarian candidate for North Dakota insurance commissioner, now has media attention for his “Make America Rape Again” on his Facebook page. He described the comment as “an online discussion that got a little bit wacky.” The discussion resulted from a Buzzfeed article about a definition of the term “consent.” The comparison is that taking money from a person without their consent is the same as taking sex from a person without their consent.
Bata responded, “Rape culture is a myth [social justice warriors] created.” Just like Trump’s comments, Bata’s dismissals of rape as a crime were offensive to many readers of the social network discussion. His flippant remark “make America rape again” responded to a posting by Juan Carlos Gomez:
“Why are you so dead set against seeing the reality women live through on a daily basis? Is the reality that women you care about go through this too much for you to handle? Or can you be so arrogant to think that only your life experience is valid?”
Ali Owens concluded her piece on rape culture in Huffington Post by explaining gender attitudes toward sexual assault:
“The vast majority of the victims of rape culture are women… and the vast majority of people who tell me rape culture doesn’t exist are―you guessed it―men. Men who somehow believe they are qualified to make that call—to wave away the persistent threat of sexual violence that we women live with every single day of our lives, that is ingrained in us from the time we are very small. Go ahead―wave it away. Minimize it; pretend it’s not there. Because, to you―as someone who’s never had to deal with it―it’s not there.”
Owens’ piece is a must-read for everyone because it shows how women are criticized no matter what they behave—confrontational v. not fighting back, paranoid v. not careful enough, too friendly or nice v. not friendly or nice enough, etc.
In Donald Trump, society has a classic example of someone who represents the rape culture, one in which rape is not actively encouraged but passively condoned. Trump’s philosophies:
Young girls are sex objects in training as shown by Trump, a grown man, tells female children that he’d be dating them in ten years.
Women will let men to anything to them if they have money or fame: this was the focus of Trump’s comments on the video with Billy Bush.
Women’s looks are used as currency as Trump talks about how women can’t succeed if they aren’t attractive.
Women are naturally sluts and men can’t help themselves from assaulting them, shown by his tweets about looking at the “sex tapes” for a women who criticized his advances or his accusation that the military has sexual assaults because they allow women to be soldiers.
Men decide when women can take offense, and they shouldn’t take offense because “it’s just words.” That’s the excuse that people use to cover offensive, suggestive, rape-inducing statements.
The fear caused by this rape culture perpetuates it. Far more women would probably come forward to describe Trump’s sexual assault if they weren’t afraid to suffer a loss of jobs, lawsuits, humiliation, relationships, friends, etc. They know that many people won’t believe them or will blame them for men’s actions. Coming out to others about sexual assault requires great courage; I applaud everyone who has shown that bravery.