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Women’s all-too-common memories: Post-Trump-video tweet storm says #notokay

In three days almost 27 million people had responded or visited Kelly Oxford’s Twitter page inviting women to tell their stories.

REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

When the infamous 2005 video surfaced of Donald Trump nonchalantly boasting to Billy Bush of “Access Hollywood” how easy it was to sexually assault women, author and social media personality Kelly Oxford wrote on Twitter, “Women: tweet me your first assaults.” Using one of Trump’s own vulgar words, she followed that by saying, “I’ll go first: Old man on city bus grabs my ‘pussy’ and smiles at me. I’m 12.”

Jane Ahlin
Jane Ahlin

Oxford said that when she tweeted, she wasn’t really sure whether many women would respond. After all, such memories are personal and painful.

She posted in the evening and by morning was getting “minimum 50 per minute.” Here’s the kicker: In three days almost 27 million people had responded or visited her Twitter page. The hashtag became, “#notokay.”

In a report for the New York Times, Jonathan Mahler put it this way: “A social media movement was born as multitudes of women came forward to share their stories. The result has been a kind of collective, nationwide purge of painful, often long-buried memories.”

Evangelist weighs in

It’s unlikely that Beth Moore, a well-known evangelist whose Bible studies are popular across the country, joined Oxford’s #notokay tweet storm; however, she had one of her own. With it, she put male evangelical leaders on notice, most specifically those who continue to support Trump after the video with its gross and predatory language. 

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She tweeted, “Wake up, Sleepers, to what women have dealt with all along in environments of gross entitlement & power. Are we sickened? Yes. Surprised? NO.”

Some minutes later, another tweet: “Try to absorb how acceptable the disesteem and objectifying of women has been when some Christian leaders don’t think it’s that big a deal.”

Then this tweet: “I’m one among many women sexually abused, misused, stared down, heckled, talked naughty to. Like we like it. We didn’t. We’re tired of it.”

Beth Moore is exactly right: Women are mightily, mightily tired of it.

Visceral revulsion born of unwanted advances

The visceral revulsion we experience is that almost every woman has dealt with unwanted sexual touching and most of us at young or very young ages. I think of a holiday gathering of extended family when I was in my first year of high school. I’d just left my aunt’s kitchen, where most of the women were talking and laughing, and was standing in the dining room. I didn’t realize a male relative three times my age had come up behind me until he pinched me and said in my ear, “You’re really shaping up nicely.” 

Of course, many “first assault” stories are more appalling. This week another woman whose physical maturation came at an early age told me of being in a crowd at a resort and realizing a man had his hand on her chest. As he squeezed he said, “Does that make you wet?” 

She had no idea what he was talking about: She was 10 years old.

Trump’s dismissal of his remarks as “locker room talk,” as if what he said was meaningless male banter, lays bare the very essence of rape culture, which continues to be an American problem. It is the attitude that part of being female is to be objectified. Wait, it’s more than that. It’s the attitude that to be female is to like being objectified; in fact, it is that females have no right not to like it.

Back in 1995 when Hillary Clinton said at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, “Women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights,” she was speaking to worldwide issues of female subjugation — many of them horrific. Those aren’t America’s problems. But be clear, it is a human right to have control of one’s own body: It is a woman’s right.

A writer and columnist from Fargo, N.D., Jane Ahlin also has taught English at Minnesota State University Moorhead.

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