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

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. 

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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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 10/14/2016 - 10:44 am.

    Wipe Out Gender Stereotypes

    If and when we ever reach the point where we stop programming children,…

    from the moment of their birth (even staff in hospital nurseries do this),…

    to believe that if they are going to be properly human, boys must be strong, independent and tough,…

    and girls must be weak, dependent and soft,…

    we will finally stop programming boys and men,…

    who have had the ability to experience or express empathy and compassion, i.e. their softness and tenderness,…

    literally or figuratively beaten out of them,…

    to relieve the heartache which results from having pieces of their personalities ripped out,…

    by taking possession, with or without permission,…

    of others who still have that tenderness intact (mostly women),…

    while, at the same time feeling a visceral DISrespect for those whose tenderness they so desperately need,…

    because they have been taught, again, from the moment of their birth,…

    that to express such tenderness, themselves, is to be sorely lacking in what it takes to be a “man”.

    Sadly, men are as likely to be told to “man up” by their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, and the other women around them,…

    as by other men.

    If the day ever comes when children are raised equally from birth,…

    when the families, friends, communities, and communities of faith which surround them see each child as valuable and beloved,…

    no matter what his/her gender (even if that doesn’t match the body they were born with),…

    and values and encourages EVERY child’s ability to be tender when life asks it of them,…

    and tough when life asks it of them,…

    and to respond in every other appropriate way as life asks it of them,…

    we will no longer have the disturbing issues we currently have regarding the abusive ways,…

    men try to require women to meet their needs to have the softness and tenderness they lack,…

    and would not be able to accept in themselves,…

    continuously present in their lives,…

    and the equally dysfunctional ways some women seek to require men to meet their needs to have the strength and toughness they lack,…

    and would not be able to accept in themselves,…

    continuously present in their lives.

    Donald Trump has clearly been damaged by experiences that were inflicted upon him he was raised,…

    as many, many among of us men have been,…

    such afflictions coming at the hands of women as well as men,…

    which makes such deplorable behavior and attitudes that go with it quite comprehensible,…

    to outside observers,….

    (even though people like Mr. Trump have no idea why they do such things,…

    and, finding the idea that they are sometimes completely out of control of themselves a violation of what it takes to be a “man”,…

    deny that reality and, in order to deny it, make up all sorts of B.S. about how it’s the fault of the women they abuse).

    But being dysfunctional in the ways so many men are dysfunctional,…

    is NO EXCUSE for anything,…

    (any more than it is for women who seek to require men to fit the masculine stereotype in order to meet those women’s needs).

    Taking possession of another person,…

    whether for a moment or a lifetime,…

    and expecting them to live their life,…

    and react to the immediate and longer-term events of their lives in ways that meet YOUR needs,…

    without regard for their own,…

    is abuse.

  2. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 10/14/2016 - 04:24 pm.

    I wonder how many American males out there are ready to realize that almost every American woman has had an experience of sexual harassment like those described by Trump and his victims?

    I have not yet spoken to a woman who doesn’t have her own tale or tales of being groped or grabbed or kissed or having some man “expose himself” to her. Many have actually been raped, and never go to the authorities about it because no one would believe her. This is especially true in work situations, or school. It’s frightening, disgusting, and an act of intimidation. Meant to make a woman feel belittled, worthless.

  3. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 10/14/2016 - 09:57 pm.

    Take heart…

    There seems to be a silver lining: his hotels are tanking as the Trump brand is poison to women and educated males: the folks who book high end hotels, buy premium downtown condos, and rent high end office space. What began as a brand booster will end with him as poison to the folks who he needs to be successful. His post election legacy wil be more bankruptcies: all richly deserved.,,

    • Submitted by jody rooney on 10/16/2016 - 03:03 am.

      Oh would that it were so.

      Sorry I have seen too many senior executives that feel equally entitled as Mr. Trump. My colleagues tale of getting the voice mail of “I’ve gotten us adjoining rooms honey” from another colleague who was friends with her parents and he was the CEO in their organization. But I like the boycott idea.

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