Trump's Thoughtless Words Have More of an Impact Than He Thinks

*Content Warning: Mentions sexual assault and explicit language* 

“I moved on her like a b*tch.”

“I just kiss. I don’t even wait.”

“Grab them by the p*ssy. You can do anything.”

In 2005, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was recorded making these repugnant remarks. His campaign responded to the recently leaked video by saying that it was "locker room banter... a private conversation that took place many years ago.”

Trump later released a video statement: “I’ve never said I’m a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I’m not. I’ve said and done things I regret, and these words released today, on this more-than-a-decade-old video, are one of them. Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize...I pledge to be a better man tomorrow, and will never, ever let you down.”

Those are the basic facts, but there’s more to this story. Trump’s words, unfortunately, hold more weight than he likely understands—based on the fact that he said them in the first place as a 59-year-old man.

When this video was recorded 11 years ago, I was a 9-year-old. That marked seven years before I would be sexually assaulted. Sadly, too many women of all ages face that at some point in their lives. I just happened to be 16. He was a boy I was dating; it was in the back of a car in an abandoned parking lot. He moved on me. He didn’t even wait. He thought he could do anything, so he did. It wasn't my choice, and I felt alone and scared. Worst of all, it seemed as though he was entitled to it, especially because he didn't ask—he just took what he wanted. 

“I moved on her like a b*tch.”

“I just kiss. I don’t even wait.”

“Grab them by the p*ssy. You can do anything.”

Trump's distasteful words represent real actions that warrant consequences. His careless, misogynistic "locker room banter” represents a broader culture that is dangerous to women.

As a college-aged woman, I know survivors just like myself—there are too many of us. It deeply saddens me for the world that a presidential candidate casually perpetuates rape culture in comments like these. Unfortunately, this didn’t reveal anything shockingly new about Donald Trump: the world already knew he was awful, but now it’s harder than ever for Republican supporters to stand by him.

As long as it's acceptable for somebody to articulate such degrading thoughts—publicly, privately, or in the past—and as long as individuals like Trump can get away with saying these things, the tragic and harmful culture of sexual assault will continue. Trump disregarded the aspect of consent in his statements entirely. There has never been a time where a lack of consent was okay—it does not matter how long ago his actions took place.

Classifying Trump's harmful words as “locker room banter” only fortifies the false notion that this behavior is acceptable and normal for boys. This is not normal. This is not okay.

This blatant disregard for consent is exactly what's wrong with the commonplace view that women are sexual objects. Consent is mandatory. Consent is everything. Trump’s statements condone bypassing this, and that is sexual assaultplain and simple. As a survivor, I understood his message as a statement of approval. And as a woman, as a survivor, and as a United States citizen, I cannot ignore the atrocity of his repeated behaviors.

And so this is my plea: vote wisely. Vote against hate and vote for the safety of women. Value yourself, value your vote, and value the voices of people around you who have experienced the hardship endorsed by your Republican presidential candidate.

If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual assault, it’s not your fault. Help is available 24/7 through the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE and online.rainn.org.

If you're not registered to vote yet, you still have time—click here to register in your area. It's free and takes two minutes!

Images/GIFs: 1, 2, 3, 4