Have you ever had one of those weeks where basically nothing goes to plan? Guess what this past week has been for me. On Thursday, I was certain I knew what I wanted to talk about for Feminist Friday this week. I was so pleased, because it was going to be a positive story, one about the increasing representation of queer female characters in comics. (I’m still going to write that one soon, because it makes me happy.)
Then Friday happened.
Well, I reasoned to Richard, this would only require a small reorganizing of my plans. It was obviously awful, but I could address it quickly, put in a cute “I’mma let myself finish” remark, address Trump’s horrific comments, and then back to the happy! I could do that, Richard reasoned, but something was also probably going to happen at the debates too. Richard was right.
I heard the phrase “locker room talk” and half-assed apologies and denials.
His comments were so odious that actual athletes appeared in droves to decry his association of attempted sexual assault with manly banter. My favorite came from Chris Kluwe. Partly because I really like Chris Kluwe, and partly because it included gems like this:
You’re wrong, and only the type of wrong an over-tanned ham hock like yourself can accomplish, plummeting past the morass of gross incivility into the abyss of depraved sociopathy.
How do I know this? Simple. I was in an NFL locker room for eight years, the very definition of the macho, alpha male environment you’re so feebly trying to evoke to protect yourself, and not once did anyone approach your breathtaking depths of arrogant imbecility. Oh, sure, we had some dumb guys, and some guys I wouldn’t want to hang out with on any sort of regular basis, but we never had anyone say anything as foul and demeaning as you did on that tape, and, hell, I played a couple years with a guy who later turned out to be a serial rapist. Even he never talked like that.
That is, what we call in the popular language of my generation, a “mic drop.” And this is where I thought it would stop. I would have a post about rape culture, and how ascribing this kind of talk to “boys will be boys” hurts both women and men, and how “pussy” was not the really offensive part of what he said, and how I’m increasingly convinced that we are living in some kind of bizarre world where the presidency is actually the job for the person who is least suitable to lead and then we’re meant to sacrifice them, “The Lottery” style.
But then…. oh, but then.
Then multiple women came forward, explaining that Trump didn’t just “talk” about sexually assaulting women. Donald Trump, of course, denied the allegations, in one case seeming to imply that the allegation was false because the woman who was accusing him was too ugly to assault. (Say it with me: assault is about power and control, not sex and desire. Assault is about power and control, not sex and desire. Assault is about power and control, not sex and desire!)
It seems that Donald Trump is a sexual predator. That he has sexually assaulted women. The he has sexually assaulted women and then bragged about it. That Donald Trump is a legitimately evil person (and not just playing one on TV). In the words of Michelle Obama from her incredible speech on Thursday, “I can’t believe I’m saying a candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women.” You and me both, Michelle. You and me both.
And then I found out about two trends on Twitter that made me basically give up all hope for humanity.
The first is #Repealthe19th. As in, the 19th Amendment. You know, the one that lets women vote.
After a map put forward by Nate Silver showed that if only women voted, Hillary Clinton would win (though Wyoming would still go for Trump. Oh, Wyoming), people decided that the only way to prevent this “never actually going to happen if you think about it” scenario was to take away women’s right to vote. Because disenfranchising half of the population less than a century after they gained the right in the first place is totally a sane, logical response to something happening that you don’t like. And today’s winner for “sentences that make me despair” is a tweet from a female Twitter user that reads “I would be willing to give up my right to vote to make this happen.” In this tweet, “this” is a Trump presidency, brought about by only men voting. A woman said she would be willing to give up her right to vote to make Trump president. A woman said that she would be willing to give up her right to vote to make Trump president. A woman said that she would be willing to give up her right to vote to make Trump president. A woman said that she would be willing to give up her right to vote to make Trump president. No matter where I put the italics in that sentence, it is horrifying.
Do these men and women know what the fight for suffrage was like? Do they think that women just waved a couple banners and chanted a bit, and Susan B. Anthony frowned at people, and then we got the right to vote? In England and in America, women fought. Women bled. Women did some straight-up, guerilla/pseudo-terrorist attacks. Sojourner Truth went from slavery to abolition to putting up with some racist-ass suffragettes in order to ensure that equality actually meant equality. To correct the female Twitter who thought that men should have never “given” women the right to vote: men didn’t give jack. Women demanded, and took, our right to vote. You can’t be “given” a universal right, because that presumes that the oppressive group has the right to take that right from you. They don’t.
I truly, honestly thought that this was going to be it. This was going to be the peak of my rage. The idea that people in this country truly and honestly want to deprive women of the right to vote, and specifically want to deprive us of the right to vote because we do not want to vote for a racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic, narcissistic, idiotic liar, would normally be my “peak anger” moment. I wasn’t even sure I had a setting past that moment.
But oh look, I totally do! Because there’s another hashtag: #NextFakeTrumpVictim.
Get it? “next,” as in, “all of the current/previous victims are also fake.” In a classic example of “how to answer your own questions,” various people are demanding to know why these women didn’t come forward earlier, why they never filed a report, and what they want to accomplish. These people are the reason they never came forward, never filed a report, and what they want to accomplish is to not have their attacker become president of the Goddamn United States of America.
As I discussed a few weeks ago, there are a lot of really good reasons that women don’t come forward when they have been sexually assaulted. But most of them come down to what is happening right now: no one believes them. Instead of their perpetrator going on trial, the victims are put on trial. Innocent until proven guilty becomes liar until proven truthful. I’m sure that a few women who come forward in cases like these are probably making up their stories, or at least exaggerating. But I’m also willing to bet it is in numbers similar to overall false reports of sexual assault: roughly 2-8%. But somehow that 2-8% becomes all we focus on. Instead of assuming that most women are telling the truth since less than 10% of women are lying, we assume that all women are lying. Because somehow it’s easier to believe that a man who has bragged about being able to grab women by the pussy has never actually assaulted a woman than it is to believe that women who were sexually assaulted by a rich and powerful man might keep that information to themselves because they knew that they wouldn’t be believed, and were finally pushed to action by him telling bald-faced lies about his predatory behavior.
Look, I don’t have a funny quip or profound statement to finish things off this week. I can’t. I’m in shock. I’m in despair. I’m terrified. A sexual predator has a fair chance at becoming President of the United States, which means that a large portion of the United States is willing to vote for a sexual predator to be President. Even if (hopefully when) Trump loses, that fact won’t go away. The fact that we inherently distrust sexual assault victims won’t go away.The fact that people in this country legitimately want to remove my right to vote won’t go away. Things in this country are well and truly screwed up, and at this point, I don’t know how to fix it.
Sorry, everyone. I’ll try to be sarcastic and funny next week.
‡ I refuse to call it Tapegate, because adding “-gate” to the end of words to mark scandals is stupid.
Elle Irise is a regular contributor to This Week In Tomorrow. When she’s not following behind the Trump campaign picking up horror stories like they’re a certain cheeto-faced gremlin’s friggin’ breadcrumbs, she studies gender in popular culture.
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