On Friday, The Washington Post published a disturbing video from 2005 of Donald Trump and Billy Bush discussing women in outrageously vile terms. Trump brags about his ability to "do anything" to women, and tells Bush that when he's attracted to beautiful women, "I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait."
Already being pummeled by the Clinton campaign for his history of sexist comments towards women, the recording further justified claims of the GOP nominee's gross misogyny. In a statement released quickly after the video was published, Trump said:
This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course — not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended.
Trump's statement in response not only failed to address the horrifying sexism in his remarks, it was also a sad attempt at dragging his opponent's husband through the mud with him.
But most appalling of all is his dismissal of the conversation as "locker room banter." Trump brushed off his vile comments — including "I moved on her like a bitch," "When you're a star they let you... do anything," and "Grab them by the pussy" — as the kind of talk that men have about women in private conversations.
Nick Baumann, an editor at the Huffington Post, encapsulated Trump's behavior in two words: rape culture. "In case you're wondering," he tweeted, "that Trump tape is what people are talking about when they say 'rape culture.'"
Trump is a product of rape culture; his behavior the epitome of its existence. The way he talks about women, the way he treats women and his unapologetic defiance of wrongdoing are not particular to him.
The effects of rape culture are seen on college campuses, where one in five women are sexually assaulted. It is seen in the media, as alleged rapists are defended and victims are blamed. It is on the streets, where women are catcalled, followed, harassed, and purposefully made to feel unsafe in public. It is in this election, as Americans are on the verge of electing a racist, sexist demagogue who implied that sexual assault is O.K. as long as "you're a star" to be president.
Which is why the pushback against this attitude has to be louder, bolder, and all the more frequent — not just from women, who have tirelessly fought against it for decades, but also from men. Naming it is only the first step. Misogynistic discussions about women cannot and should not be accepted as "locker room banter" — whether it's coming from a college freshman or a media pundit, but crucially, and most especially, when it is used in defense of a presidential nominee's repugnant behavior.
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