No, this is not a political endorsement. I am not implying that I will vote for Hillary Clinton as the next president of the United States or that you should. This is kind of a new revised version of her campaign slogan, “I’m with her.”
More than a commercial or a roundtable discussion, this commentary is an intentional documentation, a witness to what has been said after recent admissions of sexual assault and nonconsensual advances by Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s nominee for president of the United States and now after 11 women have stepped forward to claim that they were violated in some way by him. I do not find it ironic that they would raise their voices, that they would challenge the socially constructed power of male privilege at the same time Clinton becomes the first female presidential nominee of a major political party.
I will not repeat the disgusting language that was used by a then 59- year-old Trump and which initially was described as “locker room talk.” But I will say that sexual assault is not locker room talk unless the violation of women is a sport. What is the name of that team? Who is the coach, who is selling tickets to this display of sexual oppression and who are the sponsors?
And before we get too far ahead of our progressive selves, I can remember hearing young men talk about their sexual exploits with women as “scoring.” But how many points do you get for rape? I have heard men talk about their sexual relationship with a woman like rounding the bases: first base, second base, third base. Who is cheering you on when you hit a home run?
Or if that shoe doesn’t fit, persons to include his wife, Melania, describe Trump’s words as “boys talk.” Though nearing the age of retirement for most Americans, Trump is talked about as if a child. And it is more than talk; it’s said he is just doing what boys do. It is what boys need to do: to conquer, to pillage, to exploit. It is what we must allow and expect from boys.
“Boys will be boys,” right? Boys will be attackers and rapists, right? It is a pass and an admission that we will defend the innocence of men but not protect the innocence of women. This “boys will be boys” mentality excuses criminality, downplays violence against women and abandons accountability. It is kind a hall pass to roam the world and to grab any woman caught in the act of walking, jogging, dancing, serving, working.
And isn’t October supposed to be “Domestic Violence Awareness” month? It seems that we will need to do more than put it on our calendars. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), “every two minutes someone is sexually assaulted in the United States and on average, there are 288,820 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault every year.”
In Melania’s interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN, she questioned the legitimacy of the women’s claims of sexual misconduct by her husband. Sadly, this is often the response of women. We are our brother’s keeper but not our sister’s.
It is no wonder then that women don’t tell, why they don’t report that they have been raped. Because no matter what is said, we are not with her. “She wanted it. She asked for it. She dressed for it. She did not say, “No” loud enough or often enough.”
Way more often than not, we are with him. “Don’t get him into trouble.” “Be a good girl.” We aid and abet him, repeating after her assaulter, “Don’t tell anybody.” Maybe this is why RAINN reports that “only six out of every 1,000 rapists will end up in prison.”
Women are sacrificed on a regular basis on the altars of patriarchy, male bravado and chauvinism. Her body doesn’t matter. Instead, it is his reputation, his future, his career and his family that we are worried about.
Women also don’t tell because of the intimate nature of the crime. And because we don’t talk about it, she will have great difficulty finding the words to explain what has happened to her. It is a violation for which she will bear the scars for the rest of her life. It is a touch that cannot be washed off, a wound that never completely heals. No fundraisers, no T-shirts, no ribbons or marathons apply here; there is no cure for this. There is no getting over or around it for she will have difficulty feeling safe in her own body — because he will always be there.
So, while we are looking for ways to justify the violation and theft of what is sacred, pure and belonging first to her, while we continue to manipulate Scriptures in order to silence her, when she comes forward, I will stand behind her. I will cheer her on. I will affirm her voice and be a witness to her testimony.
I am with her and her and her because I am her.