Dear Trump and Lahren: Words Are NOT Just Words
By Sarah Snebold on October 19, 2016 Original publication

After this second Presidential debate, I am utterly appalled. I am sure many of you read or heard about Trump’s leaked commentary regarding women. This, in itself, made me disgusted.

However, his excuse of this being “locker room talk” and “words are just words” is the epitome of facilitating and condoning rape culture.

Further, the politicians who are removing their endorsement are in no way spineless. Have we not considered that they may not want their name associated with such a disgusting ideology?

By Michael Vadon – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51236078
By Michael Vadon – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51236078

I know this story has filled the media, and I am sorry if you do not want to see another article on this garbage, but I feel a strong need to address a few underlying issues that have been exposed. The ideas I would love to squander are the ideas of this being okay as “locker room talk,” that “words are just words,” that Trump is a billionaire so what do we expect, and the idea that this is the same as consensual situations.

First of all, something I think needs to be clear, yet isn’t for some unfathomable reason, the necessity of consent. A man or a woman can say no at any time. Once this happens, the other individual must stop pursuing them. Consent must be given, and this goes for both men and women.

I heard the argument floating around on social media that it is nonsense for women to be upset over these remarks and allegations against Trump when we let ourselves be used to “Netflix and chill” at 3 a.m. For those of you who are not aware with what “Netflix and chill” means, please use Urban Dictionary at your discretion. But, these two situations are not the same.

Why? Because in the latter, I am consciously making a consensual decision, and in the former, the women Trump is speaking of/violated gave no consent. As an individual, I can decide what I want to do with myself sexually. If I, or anyone else, is more sexually active than another, that does not deprive them of their right to give consent, nor that they cannot be upset when situations of sexual violence occur.

Consent is real. Consent is necessary. And any situation where this is not present is a violation to another human’s body and thus, never ever okay.

Second, why would anyone, Trump or any of his staff, think that “locker room talk” or “words are just words” is an accepted excuse? Overall, the actions are not okay, never were nor will they ever be. But to pass this off as, “boys will be boys” is the epitome of condoning and facilitating rape culture. The normalization of sexual violence is what has placed us in an alarming situation.

Here are the facts as of 2015:

• One in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives.
• 46.4 percent lesbians, 74.9 percent bisexual women and 43.3 percent heterosexual women reported sexual violence other than rape during their lifetimes, while 40.2 percent gay men, 47.4 percent bisexual men and 20.8 percent heterosexual men reported sexual violence other than rape during their lifetimes.
• Nearly one in 10 women has been raped by an intimate partner in her lifetime, including completed forced penetration, attempted forced penetration or alcohol/drug-facilitated completed penetration. Approximately one in 45 men has been made to penetrate an intimate partner during his lifetime.
• 91 percent of the victims of rape and sexual assault are female, and 9 percent are male.
• In eight out of 10 cases of rape, the victim knew the person who sexually assaulted them.

See more information at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Anyone who believes this is not a real issue is sadly mistaken. And no, ignorance is not bliss here. It is further condoning the violence being perpetrated on these individuals. Trust me, I could go on and on here with the gaps for victims to prosecute their perpetrator, victim blaming, etc. But, I will save that for another time.

Here, I want to stress upon the idea that Trump’s words were not just words. They were actions, taken by him and/or other men across the nation that violated the bodies of individuals, destroying their idea and future ability of intimacy, destroying their self-worth, self-esteem, and idea of themselves. Destroyed their comfort of privacy and security. Eliminated their voice. So no Trump, and all others who believe this myth, words are not just words. Words normalize the actions that have destroyed the lives of individuals, regardless of age or gender, around the world.

Third, what locker room have you ever been in Trump? I have worked for the Montana State Football team for four years now. I have been in a workplace surrounded by men, and the majority of my close friends are student athletes. But have I ever heard any of them lightly discussing matters of sexual violence they or others perpetrated? Just because you, Donald, have no integrity, respect, or character, does not mean you can create the assumption that all other men, particularly athletes, are also lacking in these areas.

I want to take the time to applaud Chris Conley, a wide receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs, for his remarks on this matter.

He stated, “Just for reference. I work in a locker room (every day) … that is not locker room talk. Just so you know … Have I been in every locker room? No. But the guys I know and respect don’t talk like that. They talk about girls but not like that. Period.” You can see his tweets here.

Lastly, I want to demolish the thinking produced by Tomi Lahren, which further condones Trump’s behavior and facilitates rape culture. Let me pick apart a few statements, which exemplifies her ignorance and allows all her following to continue in ignoring the prevalence and issue of sexual violence.

She starts her argument saying “it sounds bad,” but “she isn’t surprised,” as Donald Trump is a “billionaire business man, a reality TV star, not the pope.” She goes on to condemn the “never Trumpers” and tells them to shut the h*ll up, as they are acting “holier than thou, as if you’ve never heard anyone say anything like that before.”

Let me stop here, as she is only a minute in and I am baffled. I am a college student at Montana State University, with 15,688 students. I work for a D1, FCS, college football team. And guess what Tomi, I have never, in my life, heard someone say they could grab women by the p—y, because they “can do anything” (see an overview of the Trump footage here).

Further, why would we want to elect someone when this rhetoric isn’t surprising? Barack Obama has not spoken in this manner, neither did Mitt Romney, John McCain, George W. Bush, Albert A. Gore, and the list goes on. Do we really want to have the leader of the United States, the symbol of democracy and freedom (up for debate, but please bear with me) to showcase onto the world that this is acceptable?

If we Americans condone Tomi and Trump’s facilitation of rape culture, what hope would women in less democratic, more suppressive countries, have?

By Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49808621
By Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49808621

Tomi goes on to say that no one should be shaming the women who support Trump, as because they aren’t crying in the corner about this doesn’t make them any less “woman.”

The one piece I will agree with out of her entire three-minute ordeal is that no one should be shaming the women who support Trump. I may not understand or agree with this segment of the population, but I respect their voice. Anyone can vote for whom they wish; if you want to vote for a Libertarian, great. That is the point of our elections.

But Tomi, why then can you shame on the women who are appalled by Trump’s rhetoric on sexual violence? I apologize if this is rash, rude, or uncalled for, but Tomi, just because you have not been a victim/survivor of sexual violence, does not mean you can silence those who are and those of us standing by these individuals.

Your acceptance of this rhetoric is what normalizes the culture. You, with 18,465,325 views on your “Trump Tapes” video, are giving excuses to the public who accept and condone this behavior already. Honestly, I blame you for the remarks I have heard this past week from women who claim that, “rape isn’t real, as anyone can defend themselves. So obviously anyone who claims rape wanted it.”

Tomi, please tell those of us who have experienced first or secondhand sexual violence that we are making it up. Please tell me that I have been upset countless nights over nothing. Please explain to us how we wanted to be violated, we wanted to be objectified, wanted to feel as though our mind, body and spirit are nothing, as anyone, especially “billionaire businessmen and reality stars” can do whatever they please to us without our consent.

Please Tomi, please explain to me how this is okay, and that I have no reason to be upset about it.

And lastly, how are the politicians, equally appalled by this rhetoric, “spineless” for pulling their support? Whether it is Democrat, Republican, or whatever party, if a congress member feels disgusted by this facilitation of rape culture, or any rhetorically similar situation, they can pull their support. This is not running and saving themselves. Instead, it is action against the normalization of sexual violence and a symbol of support for those who have experienced such repulsive actions or words.

I understand your frustration with the lack of work done by the Republican held Congress and the White House in 2002-06. This was a good point made, but again Tomi, you ruin your argument by belittling the situation in saying these congress members (current or former) are pulling their endorsement due to a “leaked recording and the P-word.”

Tomi, the situation is MUCH, MUCH, larger than that. Please, I beg you, as someone aspiring to have an influential journalistic voice, please understand how deeply rhetoric can affect and facilitate actions.

Sarah Rense puts the hypocrisy of Tomi’s commentary into perspective:

“But Lahren will remain where she’s well-protected, behind a teleprompter and on your Facebook wall, where reality can’t touch her. And from there, she will continue to speak for young American women, whether they want her or not.”

See Tomi’s full video and Rense’s article here.

So now, for my final thoughts, I beg for us all to understand the magnitude of sexual violence and the necessity of consent. I desperately wish for Tomi Lahren to stop silencing us and speaking for us, where she facilitates and condones rape culture.

Let us take Trump’s leaked footage for it is, instead of only in its electoral importance. It speaks to the issue of sexual violence and leaves us, the public, to choose if we want this voice to lead our nation, or if we would rather facilitate an environment where women and men can thrive, without the threat of their body, mind or spirit being sexually violated or objectified.

We love data

Average number of sexual assaults by race of victim per year
https://www.rainn.org/statistics/victims-sexual-violence
Men and Boys Are Also Affected by Sexual Violence