We live in frightening times. A large number of Americans are buying in to the dangerous rhetoric of Donald Trump. We have known for some time that Trump appeals to white supremacists, and that he is peddling a dangerous brand of nationalism that is akin to what happened prior to the second World War. No amount of reason or historical precedent seems to get through to his fanatical base.
In addition to alienating disabled people, people of color, veterans and Muslims, Trump has proven himself to be a sexist and misogynist. This has especially surfaced with the release of the video from 2005, wherein Trump brags about sexually assaulting women. Since this came to light, many more women than had previously accused Trump of sexual assault and rape have come forward. This is not unlike what we saw when Bill Cosby was accused of rape and, almost a year ago, many of his past victims started coming forward. Victims who had been afraid to come forward began to realize they were not alone, and began to speak up about what happened to them.
This has caused many Trump supporters to go on the warpath against women who speak up, thus proving that their fears were founded (although it is truly not uncommon for survivors of sexual assault to wait before they report the crime). Of course, events in the past few years have also made it clear to victims that they are expected to be quiet so as not to inconvenience abusers and rapists. Trump supporters who are attacking victims for corroborating Trump’s own words are showing their own imbedded misogyny. The array of victim-blaming and gaslighting memes and posts is horrific.
The big “spin” seems to be that all of these women are coming forward at the last minute because they are somehow part of a vast conspiracy to overthrow Trump. This completely ignores the fact that accusations against Trump have been surfacing for much longer than three weeks. It ignores the fact that Trump has repeatedly, publicly, been horrible to women. People are only paying attention now because they heard Trump describe assaulting women on the tape. This has turned the election into a gigantic trigger for thousands of women, and prompted a massive response.
After hearing the vile boasting about sexually assaulting women, many prominent Republicans distanced themselves from the Trump campaign (something they should have done when he began riling up white supremacists against fellow Americans). Thousands of women have come forward with stories of being sexually assaulted after a prompt from author Kelly Oxford on Twitter (many of the women who participated were trolled by Trump supporters). Social media has become a battleground of people against rape culture vs. people who want to vote for rape culture. Even though Trump himself was gloating about sexually assaulting women, his supporters have been lashing out against the women who have confirmed that, yes, that is what he did. They have even been calling for the 19th Amendment to be repealed (though the same people freak out when someone suggests amending the 2nd Amendment).
Trump is not the only high-profile, over-privileged white guy to get away with attacking women. Brock Turner is a rapist, but barely got a slap on the wrist. It’s completely ridiculous that a person found in possession of marijuana will get more jail time than someone convicted of violent rape. Is this what our country has become? Is rape suddenly acceptable? Although many people have stopped blindly following Trump since the video was released, he still has a frightening number of supporters – many of whom are women! Is our culture so over-saturated with rape that it just doesn’t register for some people? Are Trump supporters so brainwashed by the fear-mongering and rampant xenophobia their party has been touting for over a decade that they have completely stopped caring about their neighbors?
America is great because it is a place where people from all over the world came together for a shared vision of freedom. It is a place where beliefs and cultures have always been diverse. It is a place where women deserve to feel safe, valued, and free just as much as men do. If you truly want to “make America great again,” stop spreading the hate and adopt empathy and compassion for all people. If you are a woman, or you care about women, then VOTE! Vote for people who will not perpetuate rape culture. Vote for people, from your local PTA all the way up to POTUS, who see America as a place for ALL Americans.