TW: Sexual Assault.
NB: Written before the 09/10 debate.
On Friday morning, after an uncomfortable and shaky plane journey from Cape Town to Dubai, I sat in the Dubai airport musing of my month long adventure in South Africa. I was mentally planning all the Boshemia posts I could write about the culture, the atmosphere, my new found willingness to try new things. Honestly, I was this close to planning a post about the wine. And then, something terrible happened.
I checked my phone.
Dubai airport has about half an hour of free Wi-Fi, and for some reason, I wasted them on Twitter (follow @boshemiablog for witty updates, solid retweets, and #feministbanter). That’s where I saw Donald Trump’s most recent #scandal. “What has he done this time?” I thought with the tired weariness of someone who has been following this hellscape of an election for over a year now.
Oh good god, it’s worse than I imagined.
Are You Fucking Kidding Me
I’m sure by now you’ll have heard what Donald Trump callously and disgustingly said about essentially forcing himself upon unsuspecting women with no regard for a little thing called consent. And I’m sure by now you’ll have heard the media circus about it, with people defending him calling it typical locker room banter. And I’m sure you’ve heard the half-assed apology of a man vying for the highest office in the Western World. There was a similar media ruckus a few months ago when he insulted a gold star family; he’ll say something offensive, the media will act outraged, we all cross one more off on the bingo card of people that Trump has offended, Paul Ryan will cry himself to sleep, something else will happen and people will forget, lather rinse repeat. That being said, I’d like to think that this one is different.
Donald Trump’s comments are not just “lewd.” They aren’t just locker room banter, it’s not just stuff that guys say behind closed doors. It’s the normalising of the worst thing that could possibly happen to a woman. It’s morally apprehensible. It’s rape culture. It’s the reason why women are told not to go out at night, it’s the reason why we cross the road if there’s a bunch of guys behind us on a dark evening. It’s the reason that this whole article has been physically different to write.
When I was younger I was sexually assaulted by our cleaner who had been visiting our house for the past five years or so. Two years ago I was sexually assaulted by one of my best friends. In-between and after that I’ve been subject to various non-consensual club gropes, threatening wolf whistles, lewd comments and all the other shit that every woman has to go through on a daily basis. Thanks to that, pretty much every single sexual encounter I have has a giant grey cloud hovering over it. For a long time, I was certain that there was something wrong with me; this kind of stuff doesn’t happen to nice girls – am I giving off that aesthetic that just screams “assault me!” How do I change said aesthetic? Maybe I’ll ease up on the lipstick and cleave-tastic outfits. (That lasted about a week. Can’t hold me down!) Maybe I’ll spiral into a major depressive episode that ends up with me alienating almost everyone close to me and genuinely considering suicide but deciding against it because the last season of Mad Men hadn’t aired yet. (That one lasted a lot longer than a week. Maybe you can hold me down!)
For well over a year now, Donald Trump has been the face of the “basket of deplorables,” that the US has to offer. He’s been the face of white nationalism and racism. Of homophobia and Islamaphobia. As of Friday, he just became the face of my assaulters, and the assaulters of millions of women around the world.
Like, are you done? Like, is it over?
I’m writing this with a heavy heart. The first day of my final year in med school starts tomorrow; I’m in a brand new city, in a brand new house and instead of celebrating and waxing nostalgic over the summer, I’m writing this and bringing back some of the worst memories I have. I’m fed up of this disgusting, toxic male culture where countless of other women feel compelled to write similar pieces. The outpouring of disgust is not enough; we need to act this disgusted when everyone makes comments like this. We need to make women feel safe in their own streets and cities. We need to create an environment where this behaviour is not just accepted as typical locker room bants. We need to do better.
Men: do better. For starters, stop sexually assaulting women! (And yeah women, don’t sexually assault men either. Actually, if all gender combinations could just stop, that’d be fab). Stop sniggering or staying silent when people make similar “lewd” comments. Stop failing to understand the bigger deal. Stop impinging on our safe spaces and stop defending comments and actions like this.
America: do better. Don’t vote for an unqualified, incompetent, disgusting rapist; vote for the overly qualified woman who’s been subject to thirty odd years of misogynist attacks. It’s not enough that Clinton wins – she needs to pulverise him. For every minority that Trump has offended, for every woman that has been violated, she needs to destroy him.
How’s that for personal.