About Last Night- Why is America More Comfortable with Sexual Assault than with a Woman President? // Lauren Clinton

Like all feminists, I believed November 8th 2016 would be the day the glass ceiling would crack. Having cast my absentee ballot already, I expected, like most of the country, to sit back, and watch Hillary Rodham Clinton become our first female President after a 30+ year political career; an obvious choice over a B rated celebrity with no political experience. I was sure this would happen.

I was wrong.

How was I wrong?? How was it possible for the most qualified candidate our country had seen in decades to possibly lose to an openly xenophobic, misogynist, racist, predator? Why would America, the great melting pot, land of opportunity, allow this to happen?

The answer to this question is of course, multifaceted. Many Republicans felt jilted by the Obama administration, and were eager to move into any new direction they had offered to them. Many found Trump relatable, funny, and charismatic. A sizable pool of Democrats could not get passed the loss of Bernie Sanders, and chose to vote independent, or not at all. Moreover, many could not find Hillary relatable, or were troubled by scandals pertaining to Benghazi and her emails. But no matter which facet you believe was most impactful in this devastating loss, one thing is for certain: America was more comfortable with sexism, and sexual assault, than a woman President.

Some may argue, “It had nothing to do with her gender, Hillary was corrupt!” But let’s look at the facts: Hillary Clinton underwent not one, but two FBI investigations pertaining to her careless use of a personal email account for government business. Upon completion of both investigations, no criminal charges were filed (Brander, Brown, & Perez, 2016). This is not the first time something like this has happened. Many important male politicians have made this same mistake—including Colin Powell and Jeb Bush (Zurcher, 2016).  So while this act may be questionable, dare I say neglectful, it is not one that has been indicated to be treason or corruption previously. Moreover, it again begs the question, “Is this less understandable than sexism? Than sexual assault?”

“Donald Trump is NOT sexist or guilty of assault! This is locker room talk!” Statements like these make feel sick to my stomach, especially when they come from other women. While rape culture might want us to believe what Donald Trump discussed in his infamous video was no big deal, this was a description of an unwanted instance of molestation, groping, and harassment. This is not how men talk to one another: this is how predators try to express their power over others. Women who believe this is how men interact with one another should NOT be shamed—they are victims who have grown up in a culture where this type of behavior and logic is not only permissible, but internalized as a norm.

Days before the polls opened, Hillary Clinton was cleared of any potential charges. But she wasn’t the only one. Prior to the release of Donald’s graphic description of “grabbing women by the pussy”, a woman alleged Donald Trump of raped her as a 13-year-old girl (Doe, 2016). This is terrifying, considering Donald Trump has been formally accused of sexual assault and rape previously, including by his ex wife Ivana (Bloom, 2016). Days before the election, the child rape case was dropped. Considering the National Sexual Violence Response Center reports only 2-8% of rape accusations are ruled as “false” (meaning specifically, there is not enough evidence to prove it is true and advance to court) and more than 60% of sexual assault (NSVRC, 2012) cases go unreported, the likelihood of this accusation being flippant seem slim.

So, the nation had a choice. Elect a qualified woman with a hell of a resume and questionable past, or elect an unqualified man, who has been accused and admitted to sexual assault and misogyny far more times than Clinton’s emails were scoured. They made their choice. What now? We relish in the likelihood that HRC will win the popular vote, suggesting the majority of Americans see Trump for who he really is, and not how he pays to look. We listen to the stories of survivors and take them at face value. We applaud our women, especially those with intersecting identities, for being strong in the face of danger. We love all those in equal, greater, or lesser despair over impending consequences. And we never, ever stop fighting to not just crack the glass ceiling, but burst through it.

Bloom, L. (2016). Why the New Child Rape Case Against Donald Trump Should Not be Ignored. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-bloom/why-the-new-child-rape-ca_b_10619944.html

Bradner, E., Brown, P., & Perez, E. (2016). FBI Clears Clinton—Again. CNN. Retrieved from: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/06/politics/comey-tells-congress-fbi-has-not-changed-conclusions/

National Sexual Violence Response Center (2012). False Reporting. Retrieved from: http://www.nsvrc.org/sites/default/files/Publications_NSVRC_Overview_False-Reporting.pdf

Zurcher, A. (2016). Hillary Clinton Emails—What’s it All About? BBC News. Received from: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-31806907

1 comment:

  1. Amazing job. You raised some extremely important points that I hope everyone comes to understand.