With Her or Against Ourselves

It pains me to have to say this, but I have to say it because I believe it, top to bottom.

The fallout from this “hot mic” Trump scandal isn’t going to lead him to drop out of the Presidential race.

It won’t lose him a significant number of male voters, and it won’t stop him from being a raging misogynist, in public and especially in private.

Trump is going to be on that ballot in November, one way or another, and the only thing that can prevent him from landing in the White House in January as well is if American women unite across party, race, and class lines, mobilize, and vote against him.

At this point, it can’t matter whether we “like” Hillary or not. We cannot elect a President that promotes rape culture, as women citizens. It is irresponsible, indecent, and self-sabotaging. Trump is a misogynist, and a misogynistic President may not be able to legalize the mistreatment of women and girls, but, as a cultural arbiter, he can legitimate, accommodate, condone, promote, and support it.

Any woman that does not see this–that thinks Trump’s seeming proclivities for misogyny, patriarchy, and sexual malfeasance aren’t something with which she should concern herself–is as painfully out of touch with reality as a man that thinks he can run a country with no diplomatic experience, a history of spectacular business failures, and a profound lack of impulse control and emotional regulation.

According to RAINN, one in six American women has been the victim of a completed or attempted rape in her lifetime.

Ninety percent of adult rape victims are female. Females ages 16-19 are four times more likely than anyone else to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. Women ages 18-24 are four times more likely than anyone else to be victims of sexual violence.

Women ages 18-24 are more likely to be victims of sexual violence than those not in college, signifying a profound failure on the part of higher education to keep women students safe.

One in three women in the US military has been sexually assaulted, signifying a profound failure on the part of that institution to keep servicewomen safe.

Transgender women and Native American or Indigenous women are at extremely high risk of being sexually victimized. Approximately 82% of juvenile sexual violence victims are female. Female addicts are also particularly vulnerable to sexual violence–and victim blaming.

Sexual violence can have devastating long-term effects on victims, too, according to research (RAINN):

  • 94% of women that are raped experience PTSD symptoms
  • 33% of women that are raped contemplate suicide
  • 13% of women that are raped attempt suicide
  • 70% of rape/sexual assault survivors experience distress
  • Rape/sexual assault survivors are six times more likely to use cocaine and 10 times more likely to use other major drugs, including alcohol
  • 38% of survivors experience work or school problems
  • 37% experience friend/family problems

Donald Trump and Billy Bush can laugh all they want about “grabbing pussies,” but the horrifying reality is that sexual violence is pervasive in American society, and it destroys women’s lives.

(It seems absurd that this is something that I have to write, but it also seems evident that I have to write it since there is an actual debate about whether Trump was “wrong” to talk about “moving” on women in such disrespectful and violent terms.)

The ubiquity and abject terror of sexual violence against women and girls is constantly and consistently de-emphasized in American culture.

Women’s bodies are still largely viewed by men–and women themselves–as either playgrounds or battlegrounds where men can exercise or exorcise their egos through sex, abuse, assault, or rape.

This is why Brock Turner can serve mere days for raping a woman, and the court and various factions of the public can consider it justice.

This is why Daniel Holtzclaw, the Oklahoma police officer sentenced to 263 years in prison, was allowed to sexually assault and rape 13 black women over six months before authorities took reports from these women seriously and finally charged him with the crimes.

This is why in Nat Parker’s “The Birth of a Nation,” the slave rape trope can be used as little more than a fictitious justification for the character Nat Turner’s vengeance and violence toward white slave owners–a cover for the fanaticism that really did spur Turner’s rebellion and brutality that characterized the actions of the rebellious slaves.

It’s true: The rape of Cherry Ann–Nat’s wife–depicted in the film is not a historical fact; it’s a plot device employed by Parker and his co-writer Jean Celestin. It allows them to portray Turner as righteous and outraged rather than what he very probably was–mentally ill–if the characterization provided by his actual biography is taken into critical account.

Cherry Ann and Esther–another character with no grounding in historical reality that is also raped during the film–are subjected to extraneous sexual violence so that Turner can appear more relatable and less frightening to white viewers when he encourages his fellow slaves to attack their owners and overseers. These may be fictional, but they are still symbolic of the millions of real women whose bodies become ciphers for hostile, violent, sick, twisted, or just plain stupid men.

Cherry Ann and Esther are fictional, but the destructiveness of sexual violence is not. It is something that far too many women and girls have to deal with every single day. It is something that all women and girls–regardless of their political affiliations, racial identity, or sexual orientations–should be fighting to stop on all social and cultural fronts.

Such effort would be senseless, though, and even more ineffective than it arguably is already, if the President of the United States was a man that has a record of making not just disturbing statements in regards to the way he pursues sexual relationships, and the standards by which his chooses possible sexual conquests, but also making abusive remarks about women and their bodies on the record, while acting in a “professional” capacity.

As observation has shown, Trump’s Islamophobic, xenophobic, and anti-black campaign talk has “energized” and emboldened his followers–“average” American men and women–to be more openly Islamophobic, xenophobic, and anti-black.

It has fed a backlash against the LGBTQIA community and brought a brutish, criminal element to political campaigning.

According to a New Republic article, a white Trump supporter in a Phoenix, AZ rally screamed “Go fucking make my tortilla, motherfucker, and build that fucking wall for me,” to a group of fellow supporters that he thought were Mexican.

Two third grade students in Fairfax County, VA, castigated a classmate for being an “immigrant” who they said would be “sent home” when Trump becomes President.

Muslim students in Virginia expressed fear that they wouldn’t be able to pursue the careers of their choice if Trump becomes President because they would be “banned.”

A gay, Jewish colleague of communications strategist Brittany Stalsburg appeared on TV as a Hillary Clinton supporter and was bombarded with emails calling him a “Heblew.”

The hostility with which the press caricaturizes and critiques Hillary Clinton is, in part, an extension of the hateful way that Trump talks (and tweets) about her.

We need not look at anything outside of the mere existence of Trump’s candidacy, truthfully, for proof that he is hugely influential.

If American women do not want Trump’s acute toxicity to seep any deeper into the bloodstream of the public sensibility, sentiment, and dialogue, then we had better do something to stop it.

We had better stop him.

This means voting, first of all. And it means voting Democrat. Voting for Hillary.

It means turning out on Election Day en masse and impelling Trump to finally respect the immensity of our political power.

Hillary Clinton may not be the revolutionary woman candidate that we wished and prayed would be our first, but she is infinitely better than this dangerous, delusional demagogue.

I say this not necessarily as a black feminist. To be clear. I’m not speaking as a radical liberal or Hillary “supporter.”

I say it as a mother of a daughter. A teacher. A media activist. A humanitarian.

I say it as a self-respecting women seeking a safe(r) society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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