Monthly Archives: October 2016

The words are not the problem

Since the tapes of Trump talking about abusing women has come out there have been a number of odd responses from the right. And in my opinion they miss the point. They point to lyrics in songs, and other uses of the word pussy in popular culture. Then claim since there hasn’t been a reaction to the examples, any reaction to Trump is hypocritical.

For example, recently Madonna told a crowd she’d give out blow jobs to people who voted for Hilary. On a brief aside, I find such language to be vulgar*. But there are a couple important points to be made. One is we are not talking about the candidates own words. Madonna is not running for the office of president (and she can’t.) You can call out Beyonce as someone did on a news show. But she isn’t running for office. We are talking about the words which came out of the candidates own mouth.

Okay, what about when Obama was filmed saying “you got to have pussy, and ribs too…” You may have seen the video on YouTube. Or rather part of the video. It still isn’t the candidate, but as the sitting president and the leader of the same party as Clinton it could be germane. The first problem is the video takes the quote out of context. Obama was reading from his book to an audience, before he was president. The words which have been highlighted were spoke by another person in the story.

But the problem isn’t Trump saying the word pussy. Madonna can talk about blow jobs, Obama and his friend can talk about wanting pussy. And they would still not compare to the real problem with Trumps conversation on the tape. What Trump is talking about is sexual assault. None of the previous examples clearly dismisses the consent of the other party. What Trump does in the tape is dismiss the consent of all women as un-necessary. The closest example would be Bill Clinton and the accusations made by women against him.

One Trump defender pointed out the part of the tape where Trump says, “and they let you.” The person suggested this meant it wasn’t forced sexual contact. But consent is one person agreeing with another. While it is true, no means no, and no means there is no consent. You have to understand consent is deeper. Not only does no mean no, silence means no. If you know someone is unable to consent, then it isn’t consent. No one expects someone to grab them by their genitals. If the response wasn’t a kick in the balls – like it should have been. Or if the response wasn’t to scream and yell or run to the police. The response may have been a deep shock and uncertainty about what was going on, and what to do next. Maybe their first thought was just to escape the situation.

In some ways his defenders upset me the most. And this is where the accusations against Bill touch Hillary. I personally believe Bill Clinton sexually assaulted women. And in all likelihood Hillary was aware and defended him. If she had confronted the problem years ago, would it have saved the women who followed? We are nearing a point where we can’t be honest with ourselves in politics. It would be better if Trump supporters just stated: we believe his actions are indefensible, but we choose to support him because fo what he can do for the country. I feel like Democrats said something similar about Bill Clinton. Republicans can point at Democrats and say they don’t have solid standing to be condemning Trump. And they would be right. What they don’t have is a good reason for not looking in the mirror and asking themselves why they don’t condemn Trump’s words on the tape and refuse any defense.

If you want to know what consent is, it is this: yes means yes. Only yes means yes. Anything less is assault.

*Then again we are talking about Madonna.