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article imageOp-Ed: Sexual assault is dividing America after release of Trump tape

By Karen Graham     Oct 11, 2016 in Politics
About the only campaign issue being talked about in the country today is where we stand on sexual assault. The national discussion stems from Donald Trump's "Grab 'em by the p***y," comment heard on a leaked video last week.
The Associated Press is saying that we can name just about any social media platform, and there will be sometimes heated discussions going on over the Trump tape. In offices, homes and on the street, sexual assault versus "locker room banter" as Donald Trump described his conversation, is the main topic of discussion.
On Sunday night, Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, told CNN’s Dana Bash that while the comment by Trump saying he used his celebrity status to grope women was unfortunate, she pointed out that “he did not say the word ‘sexual assault’.”
And this description, or perhaps, lack of a description of what constitutes "sexual assault' is the major sticking point in most of the discussions going on this week. The Guardian says that Senator Jeff Sessions, a long-time Trump supporter says he doesn't really think unwanted touching and kissing is sexual assault. “I think that’s a stretch,” he said. I have to ask, "Really?"
So what is sexual assault?
The Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) says that sexual assault can take many different forms. They describe sexual assault as being a crime of power and control. Basically, it is "sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the victim." Now, you can't get any clearer than that.
The thing that is so interesting about the Trump tape is that while it unleashed a barrage of criticism and condemnation from lawmakers and average citizens all across the country, staunch Trump supporters still defended him. I want to believe they weren't defending his actions or choice of language. Most of them say that it's wrong to bring up something that happened in 2005.
What is even more surprising to me is that some of the loudest and most verbal of those Trump supporters are women. Go figure? I say this because sexual assault, even laughing or joking about it, really hits a nerve with many women. And what Trump described in his conversation is exactly that, sexual assault.
The only reason that I can think of for women overlooking Trump's distasteful description of how he likes to fondle and grope women simply because he's a big star, is that they themselves have never been the victim of sexual assault. And that could be possible because one out of every six women in this country has been the victim of a sexual assault of some type. So maybe the Trump supporters have been lucky, no?
According to the AP, Jennifer McGraw, 35, of Cleveland, wrote a blog post on Sunday about being molested as a child called "My Disposable Body" that began with these words: "It all started with a grab of the p(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)."
"This is somebody who could be our president," she told The Associated Press. "I can't not talk about it at this point. There's too much at stake. I feel strong enough at this point in my life to share my story and share my truth. That's the only way people will heal."
A different kind of culture going on in America
Will people really heal? That's one question I can't answer because I too was sexually assaulted as a child, and now that I am 71-years-old, I still have nightmares about it. But there have been hundreds of women who have been brave enough to speak out about their experiences, regardless of how painful the memories. And we can thank the Trump tape for that.
But looking back over the years of my life, I believe we have become more accepting of sexual assault, even though I hate to say that. But think about it, please? From the 1960s, when the Vietnam war was brought into our living rooms via television, making us brain-dead to violence, and on up through today, when sexually explicit movies, videos, and pictures are just about everywhere you look, I really believe we have morally changed.
Another woman told the AP that the Trump tape triggered had memories of being sexually molested as a child and later being raped. She said, "if they voted for Trump, I would see it as personal, saying it's OK to do these things to women. They are agreeing with a rape culture and agreeing with male entitlement."
I have one last thought about this discussion. I posted a comment on my Facebook page last week about the Trump tape and gave my personal opinion. Well, it did start a discussion and it really was refreshing to read other people's comments, both pro, and con.
But one Facebook friend wrote that she was "unfriending" me because she didn't like my opinion, which, of course, was different than hers. And this very thing is what I am most concerned about - that differing opinions over this issue will divide people, and if that happens, that will be disastrous for this nation. We are bigger than that, I hope.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about trump backers, grab 'em comment, Sexual assault, line in the sand, Division
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