The second presidential debate proved to be a spectacle for U.S. voters to determine which candidate truly deserves their support. For Hillary Clinton, it was a chance to respond to allegations that she has been dishonest throughout her political career, to which she smoothly rebutted, dispelling many myths which have surrounded her campaign. For Donald Trump, it was an opportunity to prove to women that he respects them. Trump ultimately failed at this objective.
In 2005, Trump was recorded speaking with Access Hollywood host Billy Bush about his “romantic” connections with women and how they find him simply irresistible. In the recording, he said, “I'm automatically attracted to beautiful [women]—I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything...Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
As expected, U.S. citizens were both shocked and disgusted by Trump’s repulsive comments. His rhetoric implies that sexually assaulting women is not only acceptable, but even encouraged. During the debate, moderator Anderson Cooper prompted Trump to discuss his lewd comments, asking, “You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women—do you understand that?” Trump dismissed the comments as “locker room talk” and said that he was misunderstood.
For Trump, however, this is not just a phase. He has been hateful throughout his entire lifetime and will continue to oppress women for as many years he has left. This has been proven time and time again through the comments he has made about women, to women and in relation to women. His behavior and rhetoric reveal that Trump is nothing short of a bully, and a powerful one at that.
The most pivotal moment—the culmination of every misogynistic thing he has ever said—came when he was forced to respond to Cooper’s question. Trump’s prompt dismissal of the comments is perhaps the most telling hand he could have played.
Sexual assault is not something that should be dismissed as “locker room talk,” as if the locker room is a sacred space among men where they have the right to degrade and objectify women. By averting a real dialogue about the treatment of women in this country and how the nation views sexual assault, Trump answered the pressing question as to why Brock Turner and so many others like him are able to rape women and escape justice.
Any undecided voters should imagine this scenario: Trump and one of his billionaire friends have just finished up a round of golf and enter one of those sacred spaces to engage in some enriching commentary. As he slaps his friend on the back, Trump tells the legend of grabbing women inappropriately. Just then, someone’s daughter, mother, sister walks by the room and overhears these comments. Imagine how she would feel. As a country, the people have to decide whether to stand by the comments of a candidate who may become the next president. Should the leader of a country reflect the moral values held by a nation?
After Trump’s fiasco in the locker room, many of his right-wing supporters have called for a repeal of the 19th Amendment, which would take away a woman’s right to vote. This is because his supporters are well aware that after hearing Trump’s dismissal of sexual assault, most women in their right minds would not vote for him. This being said, it is important to note that the 19th Amendment will never be repealed. Therefore, all women will continue to have the right to vote in the United States. How they choose to use that right is the most important aspect.
This is a call for all women to consider Trump’s comments against them. Consider how your daughters, mothers, friends would feel if these comments were said about them. Now take a step back and realize that they are. So, on Nov. 8, use the 19th Amendment in the way it was meant to be used and instead of allowing Trump to get away with “grabbing women by their pussies,” vote against him and make sure that he does not get the opportunity to be the face of this great nation. Do it for all the little girls who are not yet old enough to vote.