Consent with Caitlin: A vote for Trump is a vote against survivors

Graphic by Haley Morkert.

CAITLIN SEGRAVES | STAFF REPORTER | csegrave@butler.edu

Content warning: References to sexual violence and sexual acts are included in this article. 

With the upcoming presidential election, I’d like to welcome you to The Butler Collegian election issue. With that being said, I’d like you to know that a vote for Trump is a vote against sexual assault survivors. Jules Arthur-Grable, Butler University’s Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Specialist, lays out the facts of sexual assault in the United States. 

“We know that one in three women, and one in six men will experience sexual violence in their lifetime, and one in two transgender individuals will experience sexual violence,” Arthur-Grable said. 

How does this relate to President Trump? Maybe his quote “Grab them by the p*ssy” rings a bell. You might be thinking, it’s not that deep. It’s just locker room talk, this is how boys talk! After discussing it with Ashley Hutson, a sociology and criminology professor, she reveals that it’s a bigger deal than you may think.

“Locker room talk is problematic, in the sense that it makes these types of comments seem benign,” Hutson said. “And so when that quote, first came to light, I had a lot of people reaching out to me and saying how upset they were not just by what was said, but by other people’s reactions to it, oftentimes within their own families, because it felt like a personal attack on their experience, for example, as survivors, and it caused some vicarious trauma for others.”

So maybe it is that deep. Sexual assault survivors don’t just forget their assault, it lives within them and many suffer from anxiety, depression or PTSD, amongst other mental health issues from surviving a traumatic experience(s). So to hear Trump, someone in power, say this so cavalier is disheartening, to say the least.

Another quote from our ever-thoughtful president no. 45, was his response to E. Jean Carroll accusing him of sexual assault one of many accusers I may add. A 2019 interview provides us with the following quote detailing his reasoning for us to believe that he did not assault her, “…number one, she’s not my type; number two, it never happened,” Trump said in the interview. “It never happened. Okay?” 

Statements that allude to a person’s beauty both degrade sexual assault survivors and perpetuate rape culture myths. 

“There is a common misconception that you have to be attractive, conventionally attractive, to be sexually assaulted,” Arthur-Grable said. “And that’s wildly false. Sexual violence affects people, not just women, people of all shapes, sizes, races, ethnicities, religions, sexualities, genders, all of these different pieces and parts of identity. People are affected by sexual violence, and it’s not about whether you’re just attracted to somebody, it’s about power and control.”

Brooke Beloso, a professor of gender, women, and sexuality studies, explains the problematic implications concerning consent of Trump’s words, in an email to The Butler Collegian.

“This quote reflects what can only be a willful ignorance about the difference between sexual desire and sexual assault,” Beloso said. “Sexual desire is about one’s ‘type,’ sexual assault is about taking away someone’s right to say yes or no. To conflate the two exposes the mentality of a rapist with a blatant disregard for the right of another human to reject him, whether or not she is his ‘type.’”

Not only is Trump perpetuating this myth that sexual assault only affects the conventionally “pretty” people, it also disregards that sexual assault is about power, control and dominance, not sexual attraction. He chose to disregard the life of every woman he assaulted and further dismissed it by saying that he’s not attracted to E. Jean Carroll. It is disgusting. 

What is worse is that he is our president. He has an immense influence on not only American politics and culture, but also the world. By making this statements and degrading consent, he’s telling everyone who’s willing to listen to him that he could not care less about consent or the lives of sexual assault survivors. Dr. Hutson delved into how the ramifications and implications of his words are multiplied due to the importance of his position.

“People look towards figures of authority, not just to make decisions on laws, for example, but to be a sort of moral compass,” Dr. Hutson said. “And so our figures of authority, whether they be political, or in any other realm, they have a responsibility to act morally, and to be our best selves, to be a representation of our best selves. And if they’re not doing that through, for example, blurring the lines of what is consent and what is assault, then that has ramifications down the line.”

Trump has a responsibility to condemn sexual assault and to promote consent for the betterment of society. I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from Beloso.

“Trumpism has become synonymous with rape culture,” Beloso said.

I think that about sums it up. Trump has utilized his position of power and influence over the American people and has seriously impeded survivors ability to speak up and come forward, hindering women’s growth in America more broadly. 

As usual, please feel free to contact me if you have any concerns or questions about consent or if you have anything you’d like to see me write about.

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