“You have such beautiful thighs.”
“We could pull over and make out.”
“My wife doesn’t mind who I have sex with, so long as I come home to her.”
“I love strings.” (As he untied my bathing suit)
“I can’t stop touching you. I don’t know why I love touching you so much.”
“You can walk later.”
These are some of the things my abuser said to me. Out of context, they probably don’t sound so terrible. In context, as I prayed the car wouldn’t slow and slithered as best I could away from him, they were unwelcomed, unwanted, and mortifying. I was an underage teen in need of a ride. He was minister of my church and a married man in his late 30s.
And it’s not just his lustful words that I recall with recoil.
It’s the paralyzing fear they created in me. The crippling anxiety without the crystal ball to tell me what was going to happen next.
It’s his creeping, roaming hands. His breath on my neck. The no’s, the wrestling, the grabbing, the pulling, the taking.
I carry these memories with me, in a file in my brain, every. damn. day. And I’m left to cope and re-cope with it every time my husband reaches for me.
Since the story of Trump’s lewd comments and conduct caught on audio broke yesterday, I’ve heard folks — men and women — make excuses for the inexcusable.
“It was TEN years ago.”
“He’s not a perfect man.”
All of which are deflections. All of which are truly insensitive to victims of sexual abuse and reflect again a rape culture that continually dismisses as petty, the many and varied degradations we experience in the ramp up to and the stop just short of rape.
Such degradations, coarsely bragged about among men or whispered breath-hot in our faces, are far more than locker room banter. And engagement in it is not harmless. It’s modus operandi for sexual predators. It’s what they do. It’s dialogue they deviantly engage in. And for them, pre-game, post-game, or game time, it is abusive. And it’s intended to be.
“I moved on her like a bitch.”
“I did try and fuck her. She was married.”
“I just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
“Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
I don’t believe Trump when he says it’s not who he is. It absolutely is. It may not be him at the podium before his idolizing hopeful. But it is him in backrooms, bedrooms, and backseats with lured and vulnerable women, whether mics are present and as “hot” as he unrestrainedly is or not.
I know his kind. I have the t-shirt, the bobble-head, and the key-chain.
To call what he’s done a foolish mistake is an understatement. To assaultively grope women and bragadociously brag about it is deplorable. And it’s grossly inappropriate and unfitting for anyone seeking a leadership role at a church, a school, or a cable news network, let alone President of the United States.
Emphasis on the gross.
Just as we are finally beginning to wake up and revile judges who give less than a summer in jail to college-bound convicted rapists with great sports records while their victims are left with life-sentences, we should NOT permit party platforms and campaign promises to rise higher in our regard than the depredation of our citizenry and KNOWINGLY elect a predator for President.
And, yes, what he engages in IS sexual assault. Calling it what it is and raising awareness about it is everything. At its best, it makes people look at what they’d really rather not and consider changing their minds for the better. It can influence and encourage the next generations to actually DO better than we have and not let this shit fly anymore.
Certainly not this close to a presidency. Or a fan.
“Look. We all make mistakes.”
“But so and so did and said . . . “
“And we can’t afford to lose him because . . . “
The excuses I’m hearing from my Conservative Christian friends are the excuses I heard as a teenager regarding my molesting minister. He was upheld as a wise and caring leader despite his inability to keep his hands to himself and his horndoggery on a leash. And, in some ways, he was wise, he was caring, or seemed to be. He was energetic, charismatic, beloved, and he represented something important. And because of that the elders and members were all too willing to simply let his misconduct slide. Believing it wasn’t as bad as all that. Believing that’s not who he really was, or the sum of what he was. Believing he could change. Had changed. Believing the good of the many outweighed the abuse of a few and the devastation of one.
Sins like these should never be swept under commercial-grade carpets, but that’s exactly what devoted fans are immediately inclined to do. And with Facebook in the foreground and cable news in the background, I’m watching it play out all over again. Watching folks panic. Watching them minimize. Rationalize. Watching them demonstrate for me again, that the vilest behaviors — along with their victims — are easy to discount when their perpetrators are body-surfing the uplifted arms of fandom.
In the balance, the two are always weighed and measured. Support of one means facing hard truths and drastic change. Support of the other means nothing need change. With the misdeeds and victims dismissed and the beloved perpetrator kept in place, everyone else gets to keep theirs. It’s really no surprise which one too often wins in the balance.
Stunningly vulgar. Sexually aggressive. Crude and demeaning. All unapologetically. Yeah, I’ve seen this behavior before. I know his kind. I’ll not be voting for him.
I’m with her.