Donald Trump’s affect on rape culture
Melissa Nunez – Opinions and Features Editor
As of Jan. 20, Donald Trump, a New York billionaire, assumed responsibility as the 45th president of the United States. But Trump was renowned long before his descent into the 2016 presidential race. From his days as a host on The Apprentice, hearing Trump’s name became synonymous with his, “you’re fired,” catchphrase. Not to mention his notorious feud with comedian Rosie O’Donnell, calling her a “pig” countless times.
But when looking to the new president, Trump has had many other objectionable occurrences with woman as well, like with model, Brande Roderick on a 2013 episode of The Apprentice. While Roderick, Trump, and former contestant and rock star, Brett Michaels were having a discussion, Trump turned to Roderick and insinuated how it “must be a pretty picture,” Roderick dropping to her knees.
Trump’s iniquitous past with women has prompted many citizens, including Fox journalist, Megyn Kelly to question Trump’s behavior. In an August 2015 interview on Fox, Kelly asked Trump if his “temperament” reflects what citizens want in their next leader. She also questioned him on how he would address Hillary Clinton’s charges that he is “a part of the war on woman.”
Trump supporters argued the presidential nominee’s words were just that: words, not actions. Words, until a video surfaced on The Washington Post on Oct. 7, where Trump admitted to sexually explicit behavior to television personality, Billy Bush, about how he persistently, sexually pursued actress, Arianne Zucker.
“I’ve got to use some Tic-Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful, I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet, just kiss, I don’t even wait and when you’re a star, they let you do it, you can do anything” said Trump.
After, Bush agreed with Trump, saying “whatever you want,” Trump adds, “grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
The statements made in the video were damning in itself for a presidential nominee but his contemptible response was welcomed by supporters and many in the Republican party.
“I don’t think you understood what was,” said Trump, “this was locker room talk. I’m not proud of it. I apologize to my family. I apologize to the American people. Certainly I’m not proud of it. But this is locker room talk.”
For many, Trump’s response seemed to explain away his impudent comments in the 2005 video. For others, his non-apology and the American embrace for that explanation became a prime example of rape culture.
Catherine Christie, director of the Violence Prevention, Victim Advocacy Support Center, agreed, saying rape culture is defined as societal systems, such as the criminal justice system, higher education, or the media, not supporting victims of sexual assault or supporting instances of sexual violence.
Christy said Trump’s comments are characterized as sexual assault, not “locker room talk,” because he admitted to touching women without their consent. She added by him normalizing this criminal behavior, it becomes rape culture.
But public view of the 2005 Trump tape became split: either citizens view the exchange as a generic discussion between two men in private or as an admission to sexual assault.
When Trump said that he can do whatever he wants to women, he said the same for the women he wishes to lead, the women wishes to inspire, the women he wishes to protect as president. With unemployment at 5 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Nov. 4, many U.S. citizens are struggling. Their desperate plea for change has been personified in an unorthodox candidate and I can relate to that struggle.
However, that desire cannot compare to the struggle survivors face when we, as a nation, tell them his acts and behavior against women are not enough to condemn him. Especially when NBC clearly condemned the video when they effectively suspended Bush as a television host for his part in the 2005 tape. To me, the mass acceptance of his behavior is kindling the flames of a rape culture debate that should have been choked out of existence long ago.