Trump is both a cause and a product of rape culture

Under a Trump presidency, rape culture thrives. He will never dismantle a system that has benefitted him so greatly.

U.S. President Donald Trump is both a cause and a product of rape culture. 

Rape culture is simply a societal culture in which sexual violence is normalized and trivialized. It’s about how our society treats not only rape as an act itself, but also treats rapists versus victims. A society with prevalent rape culture looks to exonerate the perpetrators, blame and shame victims, and normalize sexual assault. 

Many of the ways our society reacts to sexual assault accusations is rooted in popular “rape myths,” which is a stereotyped and false belief about rape. Rape myth acceptance is a part of rape culture. It includes the psychological, emotional and behavioral effects of beliefs that blame the victim and pardon the assaulter. This includes blaming the victim for their assault, expressing disbelief in claims of assault, exonerating the perpetrator, and alluding that only certain types of people are assaulted. 

The narrative around rape was historically written by men. Men wrote theories about rape; they wrote descriptions of what the “rapist” was; they wrote laws to accommodate other men; they established cultural precedences in how victims were treated; they determined the methods to stop rape. The roots of rape culture are deep, and intertwined with patriarchal power structures.

From Trump’s long record of degrading women to his horrifying list of sexual assault allegations against him, Trump is one of the biggest upholders of rape culture.  

There are currently 26 accusations of sexual assault against Trump. Twenty-six! Twenty-six women have current sexual assault allegations against the President of the United States. Scores more have filed complaints of inappropriate behavior. 

Trump has always acted with impunity. As Trump famously said in the leaked Access Hollywood tape, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything… Grab ‘em by the pussy. You can do anything.” 

He emotes no shame for his actions, but rather, is boastfully proud of them. This perfectly depicts rape culture: Perpetrators - especially those in powerful positions - are exonerated so frequently, and victims are so broadly blamed, that men believe they have the authority to commit these crimes. Lack of accountability inherently tells men that they can get away with sexual assault, and tells survivors that reporting their crime will lead to their own vilification. 

Trump does not believe that women’s bodies are entirely their own. Depriving women of body autonomy is rape culture. Trump believes that if a woman is beautiful, he has a right to own her. 

Look at his comments about the Miss Universe pageant. He bragged about meeting semi-naked teenagers, saying he could go backstage without warning while they changed, and claimed it was “allowed” because he was the owner of the pageant. “I sort of get away with things like that,” he told Howard Stern.

To call these comments “locker room talk,” which is how Trump attempted to excuse them in 2016, is another example of rape culture. Men demeaning, objectifying and assaulting women - and then simply waving it off as ‘normal’ and not a big deal - is the epitome of rape culture.

This rhetoric advances the rape myth that some rapes aren’t “real rapes,” and that some men aren’t “real rapists.” Saying the man got "carried away," or insisting that labeling him as a rapist would be "too far" or an "abuse of the term," are examples of popular rape myths that exist to belittle sexual assault in effort to exonerate perpetrators. He demeans his own actions in order to laugh off the idea that he’s a “real rapist.” In waving off his actions and language as trivial, Trump is telling sexual assault survivors that their very real pain is silly, which further perpetuates rape culture. 

When columnist E Jean Carroll accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in a department store in the 1990s, Trump’s defense was “she’s not my type.” This isn’t the first time he defended a rape accusation by basically saying the woman wasn’t hot enough to rape. When a former magazine writer accused Trump of assaulting her in 2005, and he said: “Look at her, I don’t think so.” When another woman accused him of groping her on an airplane in the 1980s, he said: “She would not be my first choice.” 

Declaring that only certain types of women are assaulted is a disgusting rape myth that upholds rape culture. It completely deflects away from his actions, and instead asks society to judge the woman on whether she was deserving of an assault. In judging the victims, society stops scrutinizing his actions, and therefore he is exonerated.

Trump constantly refers to his victims as “liars.” Disbelieving rape allegations and desire to exonerate perpetrators has created a culture where society believes false accusations are common. The myth about the pervasiveness of false allegations is also due to the vastly disproportionate media attention that is given to instances of malicious accusations. It is also stirred up by anxiety about rape itself, and the meaning of consent and how it is communicated -- which is another patriarchal myth, as in reality, consent is an incredibly simple concept. But Trump takes advantage of these myths by turning the scrutiny away from him, and onto the survivors of his assaults. 

Forcibly kissing women, groping breasts, grabbing genitals, putting his hands up skirts, bursting into dressing rooms, grabbing buttocks, pushing women against walls - dozens of women have accused Trump of varying mixtures of these same charges. Trump treats women as if they exist purely for his enjoyment because he knows he will be forgiven by a society in which rape culture thrives.

Under a Trump presidency, rape culture thrives. He will never dismantle a system that has benefitted him so greatly. If you want to help eliminate rape from our society, we need to take people like Trump out of power. A vote for Trump is a vote for rape culture.