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Why You Shouldn’t Say “Grab Them by the Pussy,” even as a Joke

Trump’s vulgarity shouldn’t be a surprise anymore. His racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, and Islamophobic ideas become more terrifying as he rises to power. It’s a no-brainer that they are inexcusable. So naturally, I’m upset about the leaked video of him bragging about sexually assaulting a married woman and justifying it. I’m even more outraged that he tried to brush it off as “locker room banter” in his “apology.” Trump may claim that they’re just words, but he cannot veil the layers of harm in them. Even if this occurred ten years ago, we cannot condone what he said and must address the issues the video presents. Donald Trump is a rapist, there’s no other way to put it.


So when a friend tagged me in an Instagram comment on a screenshot saying “grab today by the pussy,” I was furious. Furious that anyone would find this funny. Furious that my friend wrote “lmao” next to my username and expected me to laugh along. I didn’t. As someone who knows victims of sexual assault, I don’t find their pain funny and there is nothing funny about what they endured. Even if it was supposed to be a joke, laughing at a comment that illustrates forcibly grabbing a woman by her genitals diminishes the humiliation victims feel. It downplays the severity of rape and gives the rapist more power. When I called my friend out on the joke and explained why it was problematic, he acknowledged what I said and realized the harm in joking about sexual assault. While I am grateful that he was open to what I had to say, I still can’t ignore that there are those un-ironically following Trump’s words and those making humor out of them.

 

Trump is not the leader I want. I don’t want a president who can’t own up to his crimes and apologizes because he was caught. Seeing “Build the wall,” “Trump for President 2k16,” and “Feminism is Cancer” casually written in pastel chalk all over Augustana’s lower quad startles me because there are students here who genuinely do not see the danger in what they believe in. Trump’s tape only validates my fears. Which is why I appreciate my fellow student athletes participating in the #NotInOurLockerRoom campaign rising on campus to retaliate the “locker room banter.” Although my peers are taking this stance, it doesn’t erase the fact that I still notice people using “grab her by the pussy” in whatever context possible or commenting “make America grope again.” On face value, these jokes may not seem like a big deal but they are. They are no different than rape jokes.

 

What troubles me most about these jokes is that they normalize rape. This means that they lessen the severity of rape and present it as acceptable. They give rapists more power and downplay the effects sexual violence leaves on survivors. As a result, society can’t take rape as seriously as it should, which makes it difficult for victims to reach out for support. One in six women experience sexual assault while one in 33 men are assaulted; unfortunately it isn’t that uncommon. However, sexual violence often goes unreported as only 344 out of 1,000 assaults are disclosed to the police. I don’t blame them; how can they when some people think rape is hilarious, when they have to assume the possibility of being ridiculed. How do they feel when Trump said, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything?”

 

I hope you guessed somewhere along the lines of miserable, guilty, shameful, hurt, or humiliated. That’s how most victims feel after surviving their assault, and not to mention some can’t handle the aftermath of it. 33 percent of female rape survivors consider suicide and 13 percent attempt suicide. Of course some of you may not understand because you’re all too busy laughing about grabbing something forcibly by its pussy. Remember with every joke you make, you also mock the suffering of those who survived sexual violence. It isn’t a matter of not offending others; it’s a matter of recognizing the harm in what you say and why it endangers others.

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