I’m 14 years old at a friend’s pool party. As I splash around the water, two of my male friends approach me, one grabbing me by my breasts and the other grabbing me by my legs.
As they began to swim away, still carrying me, I am unsure of what to do; I start nervously laughing and telling them to stop. They don’t.
As one of them pinches my butt, I squeal and force them off of me so I can get away. I’ve been groped by male friends before, but never like this. My two female friends pick me back up and hand me back to the boys, as they think we’re playing a game.
As the boys resume their former positions of grabbing me inappropriately, one of their hands slides up my thigh and between my legs. I shout, “Oh my god!” and swim away as fast as I can.
I jokingly scold them, saying, “Really guys? Was that necessary?” I have a smile on my face as I try and laugh it off and pretend like it never happened. We’re all friends, and it was no big deal, right?
Rape culture is defined by Marshall University as “an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture.” What does rape culture have to do with this presidential election? To begin with, presidential candidate Donald Trump was caught on record making comments about women, most shockingly, “Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
When I heard the recording, I was left speechless. This man, the Republican candidate for president, was caught on tape boasting about sexually assaulting women to Billy Bush, a now former talk show host for The Today Show. Billy Bush was actually fired from his talk show for the comments he made about women on that tape. Trump remains the Republican nominee.
NBC appears to hold men to a higher standard in their treatment of women than the Republican National Committee does. To add insult to injury, when Trump was confronted by Anderson Cooper about these remarks referring to sexually assaulting women, the presidential candidate brushed off the discussion as “locker room talk,” a diversion from the real issues, changing the subject to ISIS almost instantly.
As a female college student in a country where the National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports that 25 percent of college aged women are sexually assaulted, these are the real issues. To the women I know that have been assaulted, these comments are not only horrifying, but they also trigger memories of the atrocities that have been done to them.
When I hear people brush these comments off, I’m reminded not only of all the times rape victims have been blamed for their own assaults due to their clothing, behavior, drinking habits, sexual histories, etc. Fear of being humiliated and silenced often prevents these victims from speaking out. The women accusing Trump of groping, attempted rape, and rape itself are being silenced by Trump’s intimidating lawsuit threats.
People ask, “Well why didn’t these women come forward sooner?” I think it’s safe to say that a powerful billionaire who can easily ruin their lives with a lawsuit is reason enough to feel forced into silence.
Trump’s excuses for his comments make feminists such as myself wonder if he’s actively trying to be a physical representation of rape culture, or if he’s just that much of a misogynist. This behavior makes him completely unfit to run a country that is 50.8 percent female. Trump’s history of non consensual kissing and groping women, as well as former rape and attempted rape charges, indicate he truly lacks respect for women in general.