Or “The Hidden Cost of Trump’s Misogyny.”
I’ve stayed out of the conversations about the Presidential race because I didn’t believe for a second that anyone who still supports Trump would ever change their mind based on anything I might say. Nor do I believe differently about any Hillary supporter. There’s certainly nothing anyone could say to me that would make me vote for him.
But I changed my mind this afternoon. I thought the below ought to be said.
You see, I just hung up the phone with a woman who, at nineteen, was date-raped, then gang-raped, a number of years ago (her attacker called his friends to join him after his initial rape). She’s been in therapy since, and has, over the years, gotten back on her feet, mental-health wise. But “just.” There was a prosecution, but no convictions, only plea-bargains. She soldiered on in her life. No kids, no marriage; she considered herself too “broken” to be in a healthy relationship, so she just tried to live her life as a decent, healthy person.
As a civil rights lawyer, I suspected that listening to a candidate for the highest elected office in this Republic publically speak of women as “gold diggers,” “pieces of ass,” “dogs,” “bimbo” and “Miss Piggy” – not to mention the most recent (and profoundly disgusting) items revealed last week – was not going to be easy for any woman. But I also knew that certain women – victims of sexual harassment, sexual objectification, sexual assault – would have an especially tough time.
Well, I just now had the experience of listening to a credible woman in agony tell me that, despite having had the same job for the last nine years, an apartment, a car and a life, her PTSD has, over the last week, come roaring back with a vengeance as she’s listened to the news. She’s been fired because her company is too small to countenance her now medically-needed (open-ended) absence. She will soon lose her apartment. She’s watching her own life unravel.
Why? Because she’s listening to a man running for president say the things he’s unapologetically said; and worse, she’s listening to his “surrogates,” apologists and supporters defend this conduct like it can be excused under any circumstances. She told me – and I believe her – that listening to this mass-betrayal of human decency as regards women and girls has been as bad as the rapes were; she feels like it’s all happening again, only this time, millions of people are cheering the assault.
Then, at least, she “knew” the majority American culture was against such assaults and de-humanization; or so she thought. But now she has to watch tens of millions of Americans continue to support him despite all he’s said and done.
What did she want? No suits. No claims. She saw what we did for a living, and, in tears, just asked me to re-assure her that people cared, that the America we’re seeing stand behind this… person… isn’t the America she lives in. She asked me, not understanding the specifics of what we do each day, to just “tell people” that what he’s saying hurts, it’s not ok, and it’s doing damage.
What could I say to her? Not much. I told her more people would take her hand than let it fall. That was the best I could do.
But how many more? And for how long?
The “hidden” cost of “explaining” for him and otherwise allowing him to wheedle out from under his consistent record regarding women is now being paid by America’s female victims. That cost is already high, and it will rise still higher, as trauma victims question the credulity of the suggestion that our culture stands with them and against their attackers. It will rise higher as men get the wrong idea of what it means to be a man, and put those wrong ideas into practice in schools, workplaces, relationships. His cheering section has to consider that – they have to own that.