FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Rape Election

Although I generally applaud the notion of a national conversation about rape and rape culture, the repeated coverage of the accusations against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, and the responses he has given as well as those of his supporters, are deeply troubling. I fear they are reinforcing dangerous misconceptions about sexual assault, so am offering below five actual facts about sexual assault.

Fact One:  Sexual assault is not about the victim’s looks.  Rape is crime of opportunity and power, not sexual attraction. It’s not, as others have said, “a pretty girl problem.” Yet Donald Trump’s defense against the accusations made by Jessica Leeds, who alleged that he groped her on an airplane several decades ago, is that she “would not be my first choice, that I can tell you.” Such a statement implies that Leeds is “unrapeable,” a common but inaccurate and disgusting trope.

Fact Two: Sexual assault is not funny or trivial.  Yet Donald Trump publicly made fun of Kristin Anderson, a woman who claims that he reached his hand up her skirt and touched her vagina while she sat next to him at a New York night club in the 1990s. In a speech Friday, he mockingly said “And then I went wah to somebody” as he simulated the gesture. His supporters laughed.  His supporters seem to buy the defense that all his comments about grabbing women were just “locker room,” “bad boy,” or “gutter” talk, with some even suggesting it is not Trump that should be blamed but rather the person who recorded him saying those horrible things.  Former presidential candidate Ben Carson also trivialized the accusations, noting that it is common for men to brag about their “conquests” and denouncing the entire conversation as unimportant compared to other issues facing the nation.  Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions claimed that the unwanted touching is not sexual assault, despite the fact that it does indeed meet the definition provided by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Fact Three: False reports of sexual assault are uncommon.  Although it is impossible to determine right now the accuracy of the many allegations against Trump, the reality is that, according to the FBI and other sources, at most eight percent of rape allegations are false, with some studies finding the false report number as low as two percent.  Trump has repeatedly suggested that the accusations are all part of a Clinton-media conspiracy to rig the election against him, an idea that bears no resemblance to reality.  But it does harken up all kinds of rape myths: women levy false accusations for attention, money, or because they regret sexual activity. I do believe Trump has the right to defend himself in the media and in court, should that time come, but a simple denial rather than a conspiracy theory would be more palatable.

Fact Four: One of the strongest predictors of sexual assault is the way a man views and talks about women.  Trump’s repeated derogatory comments about women (among them “piece of ass,” “pig,” and “bimbo);” the many allegations of harassment and even rape that have been made against him; his disgusting comments about the appearance of a 10-year-old girl (and other young girls) who he said he’d “be dating in 10 years;” and his own words describing how it’s OK if a man grabs a woman and kisses her without her consent, who even grabs her by her genitalia; are the type of beliefs and statements that are common among rapists.

Fact Five: That other high-profile men have faced similar accusations does not excuse your behavior, both that which is documented and that which is alleged. That Bill Clinton behaved poorly (at best) when he was in the White House has no connection to the accusations against Donald Trump. Shockingly, Texas Republican Louie Gohmert even alleged that Trump’s comments were only due to the fact that he was chums with Bill Clinton, and so of course they spoke similarly.

Given that fact-checkers have found that most of what comes out of Trump’s mouth is a distortion or flat-out lie, it should come as no surprise that he is peddling misconceptions about sexual assault. But we deserve better.

More articles by:

Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador   Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail