I can’t believe the American election’s been going on since before any of us were even born. And I can’t believe we still have about a month until the nightmare stops. Which I say because of recent developments brought to light. Mainly, four women have come forward and accused Donald Trump of sexual harassment and assault. And not to get ahead of myself, but I’m pretty sure it’s safe to assume there’s plenty more.
Which sucks for a number of reasons. First, because it happened. Second, because, like a cornered rabid raccoon, Trump is lashing out in every conceivable way, with his camp now warning that shit’s about to get nuclear (whatever that means). Third, we know what happens next: anyone who is brave enough to come forward and relive their sexual assault will have to endure the venom of idiots. And in this case, one of the loudest of those idiots is a terrible businessman, running for president.
So here’s the thing to remember when coming up against a Trump advocate in real life or online (because it will for sure happen, I’m sorry, but they’re out there): those people are wrong. Donald Trump is a sexual offender whose own ex-wife testified that he assaulted her during their marriage. Last week, we heard him bragging on a tape that he groped women because he was rich and famous and he could. That is assault. That is what that is. And I don’t care what your political leanings are, it’s the job of people who aren’t total asshats (see: us) to advocate for and support women who have experienced assault.
Because I’ll tell you this: those women have a shit-ton more to lose by being speaking up than by saying nothing. But Trump’s camp will try to argue otherwise. And they will do this, despite knowing that Trump’s survivors are nothing short of strong and brave, so it is our job to remind everybody we can of that.
It’s also our job to recognize and respect that this election has become alarmingly triggering for sexual assault and abuse survivors who are being subjected to the worst kind of talk and memories by a man who believes he can lead one of the most powerful countries in the free world. It’s our job to check in and respect their boundaries and at the same time advocate for anyone who feels like they may not be able to advocate for themselves. It’s our job to realize that while this is an American election, the presidential race is no longer only about politics but about male privilege and entitlement and the perpetuation of rape culture. It is now a sinkhole that is swallowing us all up whole and exposing the worst parts of everything.
It is not just small talk. It is not just a car crash we can’t stop looking at. It is not an excuse for Canadians to feel smug about our own country (that is gross — stop doing that). It is an avenue for real discussions about how we all let this happen and how we keep letting this happen and keep letting men like Trump thrive and what we need to do to stop letting this happen again. It is the reason men like Brock Turner exist and why judges like the one who (basically) pardoned him thrive. Throughout his campaign, Donald Trump established himself as the face of sexual violence — entitled, systemic, sneaky sexual violence — and for every woman who speaks up, we must fight harder to make sure she’s not doing it in vain and that men like him answer for their actions.
Which, I’m sorry, can’t end as of November 8. Because while Donald Trump may slump off and live the rest of his life in gold-plated mediocrity, the system that built him will still be pumping out clones who expect us to uphold them the same way we did him.
So our first step? Believe women. And do it loudly.