The Maneater

Column: Trump’s abusive words and actions are horrifying

The Republican Party should be ashamed of itself for first nominating Trump and later failing to completely reject him.

Tess Vrbin is a sophomore journalism student at MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about national politics for The Maneater.

Donald Trump is abusive. Not just to women, but to America as a whole. He made that clear not only in a recently released video in which he boasted about sexual assault, but also in the second presidential debate between him and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

In the 2005 video released by The Washington Post on Friday, the Republican presidential candidate’s description of how he treats women is beyond disgusting, from “I just start kissing them … I don’t even wait” to “Grab them by the p----” to “When you’re a star, they let you do it.” The U.S. Department of Justice defines sexual assault as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient,” which is exactly what Trump described.

When asked at the debate if he understood that he had bragged about sexual assault, Trump said, “No, I didn’t say that at all.” That’s not just lying. That’s gaslighting, a common form of abuse. It’s an attempt to manipulate someone, or in this case everyone, into questioning his or her own sanity by earnestly denying facts. Trump does this every time he contradicts himself about something hurtful he said or did. “Nobody has more respect for women than I do,” is one example. Another is when he kicked a mother and her crying baby out of a rally in August. He said at first that the baby wasn’t a problem and then acted like the mother was dumb for taking that statement seriously.

Trump tried to gaslight Clinton on Sunday after she said he should apologize for perpetuating the lie that President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. He replied, falsely, that her campaign staff started it and that she, not he, should apologize to Obama. He also blamed her for his avoidance of paying income taxes, but Clinton didn’t take the bait. Additionally, Trump stood right behind Clinton while she was speaking multiple times. Political consultant Melissa Ryan tweeted that this is an intimidation tactic with which men abuse women.

In his pathetic excuse for an apology for the 2005 video on Friday night, Trump tried to dismiss his vulgar speech as “locker room banter,” which he reiterated during the debate. However, businesswoman Jill Harth sued Trump for sexual harassment in 1997 and alleged that in 1992, he touched her exactly as he said in the video. Former Miss Utah Temple Taggart told The New York Times in May that he kissed her and other women on the lips without their consent in 1997. Even without those accounts, Trump’s words alone are dangerous because they promote the unjust idea that women are objects and owe men sexual favors.

Sexual harassment is usually grounds for firing someone. Many GOP leaders understood that and called for Trump to exit the presidential race. Trump refused, though several Republicans said they no longer supported him. Never mind that this wasn’t the first time the nominee made sexist remarks. The GOP apparently draws the line at abuse but tolerates sexism, and that’s not OK. It’s also not OK that party leaders didn’t back away from Trump after any of the several times he insulted people of color, from Mexican and Muslim immigrants to a Gold Star family and a federal judge. His party only bailed on him once he aimed his vitriol at white women.

Some GOP officials, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, still haven’t revoked their endorsements of Trump. They don’t understand that simply denouncing his words isn’t enough. Sexual violence is a black-and-white issue: If you’re not openly against it, you’re quietly for it.

Also, many Republican men referred to women as wives, daughters and mothers in their condemnations of the video. They failed to acknowledge that above all else, women are human beings.

One in six American women experience attempted or completed rape, 11.2% of all college students experience rape or sexual assault, and only six of every 1,000 perpetrators go to jail. That’s unacceptable.

The Republican Party should be ashamed of itself for first nominating and later failing to completely reject a known abuser. Even if he doesn’t win the presidency, the promotion of misogyny and sexual misconduct, however subtle, is horrifying. I’m afraid for the safety of not just our country but every woman in it, including myself.

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