‘Locker room talk’
Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, October 12, 2016
As a student, I am excited for next semester when I will be interning and taking classes in Washington, D.C. As a political science major, I am fascinated by the current political environment and presidential race. As a woman, I am frustrated with the popularity of the Republic nominee. As someone who has experienced sexual assault, I am outright terrified.
On Sunday night, I turned on the debate and immediately felt nauseous. When Donald Trump stood in front of the nation and attempted to explain away his recently-released comments regarding sexual assault from 2005 as “locker room talk” and just “one of those things,” he was actively perpetuating rape culture. Sexism has been an issue for the entirety of our nation’s history, so how do we expect to continue our progress under the leadership of someone that is so blind to the needs of sexual assault and rape victims? Adding to my disappointment are the responses that include phrases like “as a husband” or “if it were my daughter,” because these imply that women are only important as they relate to men. Women are humans, as are all victims of sexual violence. That should be enough to make this a compelling case of disregard for human dignity.
So why should one comment from more than 10 years ago not be dismissed with a half-hearted apology? Why does this matter? The high school I attended committed a grave injustice by failing to teach their students about consent. I didn’t know my assault was an illegal criminal act until months after, and when I learned more, I still did not report for fear of backlash from my peers and the school administration. Look now at the rhetoric that has been used for generations to minimize experiences of sexual violence and create a conspiracy of silence regarding the severity of these issues. This is the very same rhetoric employed by Trump not only on Sunday, but throughout his life. When Trump refused to acknowledge that his comments are consistent with the definition of sexual assault, he sent the message that it is not an issue worth paying attention to, let alone fixing.
Even if you have not been personally affected by sexual violence, I ask that you look at your friends, classmates, family members and humans. Approximately 23 percent and 5.5 percent of undergraduate females and males, respectively, have experienced sexual assault, and over 60 percent of rapes and sexual assaults are never reported. A painfully high number of lives have been and will continue to be affected by acts of sexual violence. I am tired of saying and seeing this, and I know many of you are as well, but until these figures change, it is our moral obligation to our communities to continue speaking out.
This article is not meant to be about the presidential race in a political lens as much as it is about encouraging discussion regarding why and how we have allowed an individual with such ignorant, misogynistic rhetoric to reach perhaps the highest platform with the widest reach. We must identify our society’s flaws in order to fix them. Nobody will have all the solutions, but if there is no discussion, none will ever be formed.
With that, I don’t ask for your political allegiance or your vote. When I was watching the debate and feeling the knots in my stomach tighten, I knew I was not the only one. There are thousands of people that felt the same way and are not in a position to speak out. For that reason, I write this article to ask instead for your empathy and critical discussion on behalf of every individual affected by sexual violence that is equally as terrified as me.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.