?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Content warning for discussion of sexual assault and harassment.

“I just start kissing [beautiful women]. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait … Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” -Donald Trump (Emphasis added)

After the leaked video of Trump boasting about how he would assault women, writer Kelly Oxford talked about being sexually assaulted, and invited other women to share their stories and experiences on Twitter.

I know there are people who will simply refuse to accept the prevalence of sexual violence, no matter how many survivors speak out, no matter how much evidence is presented. For the rest of us, the kind of outpouring that followed Oxford’s Tweets leads to a simple question. How can rape and assault and harassment continue to be so common?

Let’s look at the initial responses to Trump’s remarks:

  1. First came the defense that talking about grabbing/assaulting women the way Trump had is just locker room talk, just guys being guys.
  2. This was met with disgust and disbelief, along with claims from many that they’d never heard talk like this in any locker rooms, or from any guys they knew.

Trump boasted about grabbing women’s genitals without their consent. He boasted about how he could do anything to them, because he was a star. This is not just guys being guys. It’s not harmless banter. It’s not normal.

People can be crude and vulgar, sure. We’ve all said things we’re glad nobody was around to record. But no, we haven’t all boasted about sexually assaulting women. Don’t try to normalize that shit. Don’t sweep it under the rug of “boys will be boys.”

And then you have the guys who say they’ve never heard such things. Really? Never? As common as sexual assault is in this country, you’ve never heard anyone boasting about a problematic encounter? Never heard anyone glorifying assault, talking about what they could do, what they could get away with? Never heard the jokes about getting women drunk in order to get them into bed rape them?

Maybe not. But I have to wonder, how many guys have never heard such things because we haven’t wanted to? Because we don’t want to look. We’re significantly less likely to be victims of sexual assault and harassment (though it happens to men far more than we like to admit), so we feel like we don’t have to think about it. We don’t have to pay attention. It’s easy to ignore things we don’t think affect us directly. (Which is one of the reasons so many of the men denouncing Trump’s remarks preface it with “As the father of daughters” and so on — because we assume none of this affects us personally.)

Those two responses — normalizing and turning a blind eye — are a huge part of why rape and harassment are so common. We either assume it’s normal or we refuse to believe it.

“The New York Times goes back over 30 years to find somebody who had a bad airplane flight,” said former House speaker Newt Gingrich, referring to a woman who alleges that Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt on a flight around 1980 when she was 38. (Source)

This would be the minimizing and normalizing approach. Gingrich doesn’t say here that the assault did or didn’t happen; instead, he describes the act of a man grabbing a woman’s breasts and trying to put his hand up her skirt as nothing more than “a bad airplane flight.”

“Trump talks like a guy. And ladies out there, this is what guys talk about when you’re not around.” -Scott Baio (Source)

No, this is what harassers and rapists talk about when you’re not around. And there are admittedly a lot of harassers and rapists out there. But if this shit is normal guy-talk for you and your friends, you need to step back and take a good look at who you and your friends are.

“I don’t characterize that as sexual assault. I think that’s a stretch.” -Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. (Source)

Different states have different laws and categories for types of sexual assault. In Michigan, what Trump described would likely be classified as Criminal Sexual Conduct in the 4th Degree. But this wasn’t about giving a legal opinion. This was a senator claiming that Trump assaulting a woman in a sexual manner shouldn’t be characterized as sexual assault. And that twists logic and reason well beyond the breaking point.

“Retired neurosurgeon and Trump backer Ben Carson said this week that when he was growing up, men were constantly boasting about their sexual exploits.” (Source)

Sexual exploits? Yeah, that’s not unusual. An inability to distinguish between boasting about consensual sexual activity and boasting about sexual assault? That’s messed up. That’s a serious problem.

I know most of these quotes come from a place of political desperation to defend Trump’s remarks…but isn’t that what we see again and again? We don’t want to believe a guy we like could do something so predatory, so we make excuses. We minimize and normalize and ignore it. We call women liars and say they’re overreacting.

And predators get the message. They hear us loud and clear when we say it’s normal to grab and grope women without consent. They smile and nod when we talk about how forcing yourself on a woman isn’t really sexual assault. They silently thank us when we suggest we’re not going to look, not going to pay attention to their crimes. They thank us again when we attack the women who dare to speak out, knowing they’ll be harassed and threatened and doxxed as a result.

This is some of what we talk about when we talk about rape culture. It’s not that everyone in the culture is pro-rape. It’s that so many are so willing to ignore and normalize it. It’s all we as a culture do to allow and facilitate sexual assault, and to protect sexual predators.

You say you don’t know what rape culture is? Wake up and look around. We’re drowning in it.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
gonzo21
Oct. 14th, 2016 11:14 am (UTC)
I agree with most of what you say here, but this part:

And then you have the guys who say they’ve never heard such things. Really? Never? As common as sexual assault is in this country, you’ve never heard anyone boasting about a problematic encounter? Never heard anyone glorifying assault, talking about what they could do, what they could get away with? Never heard the jokes about getting women drunk in order to get them into bed rape them?


Because, yes, ~really~. Myself, all of my male friends, all of my male relatives. This trump thing provoked a lot of discussion.

I have to go back to one creepy guy I knew at university who talked about women the way Trump did to find an example of somebody from my acquiantance who talked that way. And everybody hated him because he was a complete arsehole.


It's not denying rape culture exists. And it's not turning a blind eye. It's recognising that there are clearly great circles of toxic masculinity where this shit exists, and there are circles of non-toxic masculinity where it does not. And it seems there is not a great deal of overlap between the two.

And maybe there needs to be more overlap somehow, so the toxic little boys hear more often that no, it's not normal and acceptable to talk that way.
fatcook
Oct. 14th, 2016 03:08 pm (UTC)
In ANY other election, with ANY other candidate, the GOP nominee would have been out on his ass with a tenth of the remarks that this one has said.

This ... I can't think of a descriptor that's neutral enough without demeaning it, bag of chemicals, makes me literally sick. I have to vote. It's my duty and privilege, but as sure as the sun converts hydrogen to helium, I'm not voting for the GOP.

sueo2
Oct. 14th, 2016 04:17 pm (UTC)
Voting ... a right - yes, a privilege - yes, duty - no. I just read an interesting article about that. Vote with knowledge, and if there is no one at the top you can honestly vote for, make sure you vote for "underlings" who reflect what you hope to find in your leaders.

It is voting with "hormones" that got us into this mess we now face. (And anger is hormonal.) Don't propagate the mess if you can't pick someone you "like."
fatcook
Oct. 14th, 2016 04:30 pm (UTC)
In my family voting intelligently is a duty. Even if it's someone I don't like, if they are good for the country/state/city/county I'll do my duty by my fellow citizens.

When I say THE GOP, I'm referring to the top of the ticket. I can't bring myself to even type the name.

It's also a duty to my grandmother. She got arrested four times before she got the right to vote.
sueo2
Oct. 14th, 2016 04:52 pm (UTC)
I can appreciate that ... and I thank your grandmother for her courage.
sidhe_uaine42
Oct. 14th, 2016 09:24 pm (UTC)
"It's also a duty to my grandmother. She got arrested four times before she got the right to vote."

Ditto concerning my late father, although he wasn't arrested before getting the right to vote. He was a WWII veteran (medic, European Theater, US Army.) He also introduced me to several veterans when he volunteered at the VAMC here in the Milwaukee area, including a gentleman who couldn't leave the VA because he was unable to use a wheelchair (shrapnel severed his spinal cord in 'Nam) and he was wheeled around on a gurney if he wanted/needed to go somewhere like bingo nights or the commissary.

These men and women suffered for our ability to vote, plus more are coming home either physically/psychologically injured or dead so we can go to the polls and vote our consciences.

I apologize for preaching to the choir, but I needed to get this off my chest.
fatcook
Oct. 14th, 2016 09:28 pm (UTC)
No worries. We all have reasons why we try to be a good and informed populace. We can only try our best.

The choir thanks you for the preaching, it was lovely. :D

Edited at 2016-10-14 09:28 pm (UTC)
starcat_jewel
Oct. 14th, 2016 04:36 pm (UTC)
My mantra for 40 years has been, "If you can't find someone to vote FOR, you can always damn sure find someone to vote AGAINST." I don't have time for this moral-purity crap; that's part of what's gotten us into this mess in the first place. People who just can't "dirty their hands"... and so, because they won't vote for the lesser evil, the greater one gets elected. But by golly, they get to feel good about themselves!

The time to "make your voice heard" isn't on Election Day, it's on all the days between.
learnsslowly
Oct. 14th, 2016 06:30 pm (UTC)
Once turned up and spoiled my ballot paper because there was no candidate in my constituency that I could in good conscience vote for. I'd rather do that to honour those people past and present who couldn't vote than just stay at home. I don't know if that is an option in the US. The spoiled paper would be counted in separately from the no shows in the UK.
fabrisse
Oct. 14th, 2016 08:19 pm (UTC)
Exactly. Thank you for wording it so well.
sidhe_uaine42
Oct. 15th, 2016 01:59 pm (UTC)
Where's the standing ovation? You deserve one. :)
fabrisse
Oct. 14th, 2016 08:24 pm (UTC)
I currently live in a jurisdiction where I have very little say in my government (Washington DC. We got the right to vote for President in 1964. We pay more per capita in federal income tax than 4 other states put together, and we have no congressional representation while congress has the right to vacate the laws passed by the officials we did elect.). I consider voting to be a duty, just as serving on juries and paying my taxes. The District's biggest argument for the right to representation is that we have all the duties of citizenship. Exercising the franchise is a biggy and if we don't do it, we may lose whatever (miniscule) shot we have at full citizenship.
ethelmay
Oct. 15th, 2016 04:37 am (UTC)
All emotions are hormonally mediated. That's how bodies work.
deborahblakehps
Oct. 14th, 2016 07:31 pm (UTC)
This is so insane. I sometimes look around and wonder if I am living in some kind of weird alternate reality, that this man can get away with his blatant prejudice and misbehavior.

I'm sure as hell going to vote, this year and every year.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

Profile

Snoopy
jimhines
Jim C. Hines
Website

My Books

Tags

Latest Month

November 2017
S M T W T F S
   1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930  
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow