The shot heard around the world last week was when the Washington Post released a video from a 2005 Access Hollywood taping in which a hot mic captured Donald Trump objectifying actress Arianne Zucker and disclosing that he may have committed sexual assault.
The second shot heard around the world was when he dismissed his comments as “locker room banter” at the second presidential debate Sunday night.
Locker room talk doesn’t usually include,“I use my high social position to force women into non-consensual romantic situations.”
The video highlighted rather unflattering parts of how Trump says he interacts with women, notably his poor taste in picking them up. C’mon Donald? “I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.” Really?
Despite the glaring blemish his comments have made on his campaign, I must express my gratitude to Donald Trump. Not because I liked what he said, but because he’s started a national conversation about rape culture, which is the normalization of sexual violence.
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center estimates that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men are sexually assaulted while in college. Sexual assault is a very real possibility for college students, and to equate implications, jokes or actual assault as having the same weight as small talk about the weather with an elderly stranger at the YMCA is wrong.
We know sexual assault is wrong. We know stripping women of their autonomy is wrong. We must acknowledge that making light of sexual assault undermines the severity of the crime, and those in public office, even the presidency, do not have a free pass to joke about or participate in harassment or assault.
Yes, Trump’s comments were made when he was in private, but just as your mother likes to remind you, you are in public who you are in private. So listen to your mother for once and learn from the Don’s mistakes.
Here’s a brief list of things you can do to reduce your role in enabling rape culture:
- Do not joke casually about sexual violence or committing sexual violence in public or private.
- Do not objectify another human being.
- Never think you’re entitled to someone’s attention or body.
- If you’re going to say something really scummy, turn your mic off first.