Sexual assault and rape culture are at the forefront of Americans’ minds today as footage of Republican nominee Donald Trump making lewd, misogynistic, and degrading comments toward women were leaked today. If you’d like to know more about the specifics and implications of this potential leader’s revolting commentary see here.
The reaction to this is compelling. The past sixteen months of this election season has reality TV running for their money with all of the outlandish things the candidate has said, but for the first time, I’m seeing a united front on outrage. Of course Trump’s loyal supporters will defend him, but I don’t think we’ve seen as many conservatives publicly denounce Trump as we’ve seen recently. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan publicly disinvited him from an event in Wisconsin and other conservatives have come forward to un-endorse Trump.
Which in itself is bittersweet. It’s been sixteen months and this is where you draw the line?
There has been a variety of responses to Trump’s rape culture fueling remarks, but one line in particular keeps showing up. “I respect women because I am a father, grandfather, uncle, of women.” That’s great, but why does that imply that respect for women wasn’t learned until a paternal role was formed? That’s a late lesson to learn.
I don’t want to undermine the anger of fathers and paternal figures after those comments leaked. Your outrage over blatant disrespect to women is valued, vital, and valid. We need our fathers to be vocally outraged, but we as women ask you share that outrage for misogyny and sexual assault with your sons. If brothers respect their sisters, they’re not going to have an “awakening” if they’re ever a father to a baby girl in the future.
But only being outraged in a paternal sense is lacking sense of the bigger picture. There’s many perspectives in going about analyzing and disavowing attitudes and statements that promote rape culture, but firstly, we should have compassion on a human level. No person deserves to be objectified or touched without consent. I wish we were in a place to respect women as people first before being labeled as someone’s daughter. Being a daughter or a mother shouldn’t be the first justification for respecting women. Our relationships to men shouldn’t define us first. A respectable reason to care, but not the first.
Women are more than mothers, daughters, grandmothers, and aunts. We are people first. We deserve to be treated with the same respect all humans deserve.