This week Jessica Drake became the latest in a string of women to accuse #Donald Trump of sexual assault, claiming he kissed her without consent and offered her $10,000 to have sex with him after meeting him in 2006. Trump and his team have denied the allegation, threatening to sue Drake and the ten other women that have come forward in recent weeks making similar claims.
Scrolling through Twitter and Facebook brings to light swathes of problematic reactions. The consensus from Trump’s defenders seems to lie somewhere between Drake having no credibility or, perhaps much more disturbingly, that Trump’s behavior was completely acceptable.
Many of these reactions take issue with Drake’s work in adult films as if consent is a concept that does not apply to people in certain jobs. In one of the more controversial tweets of the day, Brit Hume of Fox News wrote: "Woman who has sex on camera for $ says Trump propositioned her. "This is not acceptable behavior." Please."
Woman who has sex on camera for $ says Trump propositioned her. "This is not acceptable behavior." Please. https://t.co/EpQ04PcuTO— Brit Hume (@brithume) October 23, 2016
What is clear from the response from Trump and his defenders is that he has a history of being disrespectful to women and setting an example for that same behavior in his followers.
The results are on tape in bouts of 'locker room' banter, in his humiliation of Alicia Machado, and in calling women he doesn't like "fat". While it is often the case that Trump attacks women who have trouble defending themselves against a culture that views them as merely pretty faces and bodies to look at, it is not exclusive to just pageant stars, porn stars, or models. It’s difficult to define what women Trump does consider worthy of respect. The answer is ostensibly none.
The impact on women
TStatistics from RAINN show that only 344 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police in #America. The victims of sexual assault and misconduct often feel too humiliated and stigmatized to report what happened to them. Yet on top of the multitude of challenges facing victims of sexual crimes, and what Trump and his supporters' reactions to these claims have a real effect on, are the cases where the victims don't come forward because they don't want to be punished and blamed.
The victim in the Stanford rape case was subject to attacks that she 'ruined' a young athlete's life. In the case of Bill Cosby, people lashed out at the victims supposedly 'bandwagoning' for publicity. A similar thing has happened in the case of the eleven women that have come forward against Trump. The more victims that come forward, the more shrill the calls of skepticism become. Far from corroboration proving the crime, in cases of sexual assault and misconduct, corroboration brings suspicion. All of this means that sexual crimes go vastly under reported and the victims are put last. By all means, the stories should be scrutinized, but the treatment of women by people like Brit Hume and Trump's defenders cannot be condoned.
It's easy to dismiss these comments from Trump's supporters as a small minority shouting into the void. Yet the latest update from the New York Times shows that Donald Trump is polling at a national average of 40.1 percent, even in light of the new allegations. That is no small number. It sets a dangerous precedent for cultural attitudes towards sexual crimes in America.
In Drake's statement, she said: "I am not looking for monetary compensation. I do not need additional fame or the type of attention that this is sure to bring. I understand that I may be called a liar or an opportunist." Many other victims, however, may not be in the position to risk their careers, their public reputation, and their livelihood to bring forward a case that is very likely not going to be prosecuted. In order for all sexual assaults and misconduct to be taken seriously, the debate has to start with a realization that 'respect for women' needs to go beyond respect for the way they look or a 'respectable' profession. It needs to be the starting point for interaction with all women. #Election 2016