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Beyond the Locker Room: Standing Up Against Sexual Assault

As I’m sure most have heard by now, Trump’s campaign and candidacy were recently rocked by the release of a lewd and vulgar recording. In this recording, he boasts to Billy Bush, an Access Hollywood host, about his ability to engage in sexually aggressive behavior towards women due to his status and power. This in itself is deeply disturbing, particularly considering the fact that he is currently in the running for the most powerful position in the United States government. However, over the course of the past week, what was dismissed by Donald Trump as mere “locker room banter” has proved to be the way that he actually lives his life. Several women have now bravely come forward to speak out publicly against Trump for the acts of sexual violation that he has committed against them.

Trump’s inflammatory statements have officially crossed the line from problematic to utterly deplorable. Each time I glance at The New York Times or CNN, I am faced with a new disturbing headline about Trump’s mistreatment of and extremely problematic attitude towards women. Just this morning, I stumbled across a story about a 2004 interview in which Trump shared his opinion that “deeply troubled women are always the best in bed.” His attempts to benefit from the sexual exploitation of emotionally struggling women can be added to the ever-growing list of ways that Trump disrespects women. In a Washington Post story released recently, a woman named Kristin Anderson recounts Donald Trump sexually violating her in a public setting in the 1990s; she explains how immediately after the event occurred she thought, “Okay, Donald is gross. We all know he’s gross. Let’s just move on.”

In response to these developments, several exceptional individuals have made efforts to convince the public that electing Trump for President is unconscionable and dangerous, and that we can no longer just keep moving on. In a recent speech made by Michelle Obama, she articulates exactly why Donald Trump’s candidacy cannot succeed. “The shameful comments about our bodies, the disrespect of our ambitions and intellect, the belief that you can do anything you want to a woman…it is cruel. It’s frightening. And the truth is, it hurts.”

As Michelle Obama states so eloquently, “it has shaken me to my core…I listen to all of this and I feel it so personally,” a statement with which I could not agree more. There are few things I feel more strongly about than the empowerment and security of rights for women in our country and throughout the world, and Trump’s candidacy is a direct and tangible threat towards this. By tolerating him as a candidate and even entertaining the idea of him as a national leader, we become complicit in the sexist discourse he puts forth. As Michelle Obama advocates in her moving speech, this is no longer an issue of party or policy or even ideological difference – it is a matter of human rights, morality and decency. Sexual violence is already a pervasive issue in our society, particularly on college campuses. As cases such as Brock Turner’s sexual assault of an unconscious woman have demonstrated, the unfortunate reality is that the law at times still fails to fully protect female victims of sexual violence. The national response to the ruling in this case indicates that people across the country believe very strongly that this is an issue that must be corrected; so how can we tolerate a leader who publicly advocates exactly the opposite? Electing Trump consequently equates to taking two steps backward from the progress that has already been made towards changing archaic approaches to handling cases of sexual violence.

The floodgates have been opened. More and more instances are being revealed of Trump’s misconduct with women spanning across decades. It is unfortunate that it took this long into the campaign season for so many of these stories to be made apparent to the public, and it is unsettling that it took until now for so many people to denounce him. But, as Drake once said – better late than never.

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Images: 1, 2, 3, 4

Sources: 1, 2, 3

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Katie Anne

Notre Dame

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