EDITORIAL: Trump’s comments contribute to rape culture

Green Eggs and Trump

Herald Editorial Board

Repulsive Rhetoric

The Issue: The Washington Post recently published a video of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump making lewd comments about women, comments that surmount to sexual assault.

Our Stance: His comments are disgusting and contribute to the dangers surrounding rape culture. WKU has made great strides in combating issues such as sexual assault and rape culture, but we can further improve for the sake of everyone.

The Republican party finally found the line of moral decency they refused to cross on Saturday, Oct. 8 when a video unearthed by the Washington Post made itself heard around the world.

The video captures Trump bragging about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women during a 2005 conversation with Billy Bush of “Access Hollywood.”

In the audio, Trump discusses his attempts to “try and f***” a married woman and ultimately failing after moving on her “very heavily.”

Later on, Trump and Bush seem to notice actress Arianne Zucker which prompted responses from the two.

“You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful –– I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait,” Trump says.

“And when you’re a star, they let you do it,” he says. “You can do anything.”

“Whatever you want,” another voice says, apparently Bush’s.

“Grab them by the p***y,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”

The fallout from the Republican party has been massive since the video came out. The New York Times reports that 160 Republican leaders no longer support Donald Trump and at least 50 have recanted support or publicly spoken about not supporting him since the tape’s release.

Pledging to build a wall along the U.S. – Mexico border, calling for a shutdown of Muslims entering the country, insulting a prisoner of war, mocking former presidential candidates and making 87 erroneous statements over a five day period didn’t push the party away.

But suddenly remembering they have wives and daughters instead of women being actual people worthy of respect and dignity has sprung the party into a defcon five leaving everyone for themselves.

Let’s not approach these comments in any vague terms. What Trump is describing is sexual assault. And the United States Department of Justice also agrees stating “sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.”

This is a presidential candidate bragging in lewd terms about sexual assault. Something Trump brushed off as “locker room banter.”

His comments have sparked discussion about rape culture. According to the Women Against Violence Against Women, rape culture was coined by feminists in the 1970’s and was “designed to show the ways in which society blamed victims of sexual assault and normalized male sexual violence.”

Rape culture does exist. If it didn’t, former Stanford University student Brock Turner would have served a longer sentence for sexually assaulting a woman instead of just three months. And if it didn’t exist Canadian author Kelly Oxford wouldn’t have received 8.5 million responses to her tweet encouraging women to tweet her their first assaults.

A culture does exist where sexual violence is normalized and often times excused in the public eye, shifting the blame onto women and not the actions of the perpetrator. It should not be a controversial thing to admit this; it’s an issue that requires we first admit it in order to do something.

Many organizations at WKU take issues of sexual violence seriously. The Student Government Association is dedicating resources and time to ending sexual assault and rape culture; the Counseling and Testing Center continues to focus on the Green Dot training sessions which focus on interpersonal violence prevention and the university at large promotes programming during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

However, we still have our faults, such as not having a separate victim support services office, and we have to continue to make improvements in that regard.

Countering rape culture has to be another step we all take upon ourselves to put an end to. And at this point we’re going to remind everyone of the infamous Vanderbilt banners which briefly gained national attention.

Some of the banners seemed to make reference to Vanderbilt’s history with sexual assault:

“Vandy goes to court. WKU goes to bowl games.”

“Vandy posted Brock Turner’s bail #BeatVandy SEC?”

“Vandy anchors down lifetime sentences T-O-P-S.”

The Lambda Lambda Zeta chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity is the only confirmed fraternity house to have referenced the case on its banner, but other off-campus student houses had banners mocking Vanderbilt in other ways.

The Tennessean reported the president of the Lambda Lambda Zeta chapter of Lambda Chis, Alex Hawkins, said they did not mean any harm by the signs and said the banner was “not in any way meant to make fun of women or sexual assault allegations associated with the Vanderbilt football team, this was simply an immature joke.”

A Twitter account called WKU Greek Humor eloquently told all of us that if we can’t take a joke to stay off Twitter.

By bringing up the banners we do not mean to paint the Greek community with a wide brush. Many of the banners photographed came from off-campus student housing, but the issue of culture remains unchanged.

Statements trying to poke fun of sexual assault are not simply an immature joke or locker room banter and we cannot treat it as such.

If this is the norm, then we have to start calling it out as we see it. WKU came out strongly against acts of racism on campus, yet their response to these banners was virtually nonexistent.

The administration cannot be dedicated to ending one form of violence and injustice if they’re not dedicated to ending other forms as well. Administrators should move past just promoting programming and discussions during Sexual Assault Awareness month and make it a defined priority year round.