The majority of rape and assault victims do not even report their assaults. Because they fear that they don’t matter. They fear that speaking will result in being abused all over again.
As the news broke Tuesday that Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse was urging Attorney General Merrick Garland (that felt amazing to type) to investigate the sham FBI background check of then Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh, a piece of me that’s been frozen into silence for years cracked.
(TRIGGER WARNING for the rest of the piece)
After Former Guy was “elected,” I wrote a piece about how our country had told so many women we didn’t matter, titled “American Women Are Suffering from Trump Traumatic Stress Disorder,” because the message was it’s perfectly fine for a president to aggressively, cruelly, meanly and violently sexually assault women.
You see, Trump wasn’t accused of just his own admission of “grab them by the p*ssy,” but also of violently shoving himself into and onto women who didn’t want his attentions and of consistent harassment and character assassination of women who said no to him.
This harassment spread out to women journalists who covered him, long before he attacked the entire press as “fake” for daring to ever speak the truth about him. Trump tried to destroy their careers all because they refused him. If they were men, we’d be so disturbed about their “reputations” being destroyed, Trump would have been seen as a “vindictive, bitter loser.” Instead, he branded them with the c word to their bosses and relentlessly undermined them for years: The cost of saying no to His Hideousness.
A country that elects a many times accused sexual assaulter to the highest office of the land is not a country that values women. Of course, long before Former Guy we were still the country in which three women a day on average are murdered by their intimate male partners.
Women of color are at even higher risk and yet get barely any of the news attention. So there’s a hierarchy – same old hierarchy – of who matters in this country. Rape and assault rates are higher among marginalized groups (e.g., the LGBTQ community) – because HIERARCHY.
“Native American women are victimized at higher rates than any other racial or ethnic minority. Even in the military, the National Center for PTSD reports that sexual violence is perpetrated against one of every four women and one in 100 men.”
Things got even worse, though. Because remember, this country impeached Democratic President Bill Clinton for what was at the time considered a consensual sexual act. So, a blow job was impeachment worthy to the Republican Party; but, multiple accusations of violent sexual assault against a Republican presidential candidate were not even worthy of addressing. Let us not forget how they humiliated, used and took agency from Monica Lewinsky. It wasn’t as if Republicans were concerned about Ms. Lewinsky; she was merely a weapon with which to beat Bill Clinton, as they continue to use accusations of sexual misconduct against their opposition today. Because women don’t matter.
Trump’s contempt for women is, of course, a large part of his “charm” — his contempt for all “others” being the only consistent quality he brought to office — but that was sadly not to be the low for the Republican Party or indeed some of our corporate media, who together wrote this off as “locker room talk.”
Twenty-six credible accusations of sexual assault and an admission ON TAPE are not locker room “talk”. But even if they were “just” locker room talk, has anyone ever asked men if they would want to be in a country led by a woman who spoke about men as if they were inhuman? Has anyone ever asked the many white women who voted for Trump, some of whom told various papers that they had been sexually assaulted in their past, why they hated their own gender so much?
For all of the media obsession with the white Trump voter, these specific questions have not been asked. The accusations against Trump share similar patterns and involve being held in place, sometimes prefaced by a physical assault like pushing their head into a wall or grabbing them violently. These details place Trump’s behavior way out of the “she seemed to want it” confusion realm. We are not talking about basic consent or could she consent in Trump’s case. We are talking about an act of violence against each woman’s personhood. Stunning the prey before the real attack.
Meanwhile, the Catholic Church was working hard to make sure no one forgot how little they care for children, vaunted coaches of various sports were being accused of grotesque acts of sexual assault against children (Ohio Republican Jim Jordon has since been accused of covering up widespread sexual abuse in OSU’s wrestling program), and the Republican Party propped up then Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore who was not only accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women, but also accused of sexual misconduct with several teenagers, one of them 14 at the time.
One of the women told reporters that after giving up his attack on her, Moore (then a DA) “then looked at me and said, ‘You are a child. I am the district attorney of Etowah County. If you tell anyone about this, no one will believe you.'”
That is what these types of men tell the women they assault, which is why “Believe Women” became a thing.
Just in case we missed the neon sign: WOMEN DON’T MATTER, the Republican Party stocked the White House with men who had been accused of violence against their wives, from Rob Porter (accused by two ex-wives complete with photo of a black eye and a restraining order – two items which I’d argue made him MORE attractive to Trump’s Republican Party than less) to Trump White House speechwriter David Sorenson, whose ex-wife claimed that he was emotionally and physically abusive.
Sure, sexual misconduct and abuse happens in both parties – but the difference is as clear as Al Franken. And while at the time of the accusations against Franken I wrote if they were true he should step down, during the in your face corruption-filled years that followed, I began – like so many others- to wonder if anything really mattered.
Certainly women did not matter. Did sexual assault and misconduct really matter, if they only mattered to Democrats and were used as a weapon to destroy Democrats (the only party that even cares a little) by the Republican party, the same party that refused to renew the Violence Against Women Act?
Clearly women don’t matter. Why did women lose a Senator like Franken, who actually voted in a way that benefited our rights when the Republican Party was elevating violent abusers from the top down. This isn’t to suggest that I think what Franken did was okay; it’s that I cared so much about women’s rights finally getting somewhere as one major political party listened to women like we mattered. And then…
… Republicans installed Brett Kavanaugh, a man accused of gang rape by *third* accuser Julie Swetnick, GANG RAPE, as a SUPREME COURT JUSTICE.
Well, that’s par for the course as Republicans refused to even subpoena the young man Dr. Christine Blasey Ford said witnessed Brett Kavanaugh holding her down on a bed when she was 15, groping her and trying to pull off her clothes.
After three accusations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh, Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement saying the White House “stands with Kavanaugh.”
If this is a war, and it apparently is since Republicans feel they must announce they stand with All R-Accused, Republicans sided again and again with the sexual terrorists, in what now appears to be an ominous prelude to their instigating terrorism against our country in 2021.
Kavanaugh was mentored by prominent and “influential” Republican Justice Alex Kozinski. One hopes you are sitting down as you read: Kozinski resigned in 2017 after facing multiple alleged accounts of sexual harassment against women.
MENTORED, Gentle Reader.
In order to install this Kavnaugh beast – a man who clearly can be blackmailed, which is supposed to be a nonstarter for such a high position but seems to perhaps have been his most compelling attribute to the Trump Crime Syndicate, Republicans silenced any real investigation into his background and egregiously harassed main witness Dr. Christine Blasey Ford – whose image while testifying still breaks women to this day (a reader actually replied to me
Ford paid for her courage. This country made her pay, again and again and again, just for speaking up. One did not need to believe Ford in order to treat her with a modicum of respect or, indeed, to determine that she was reporting a crime and so this crime should be investigated as if she mattered. As if her experience, one shared by far too many people, mattered.
Some in the media and Republican Senators like Susan Very Concerned Collins then scolded Ford and women sexual assault survivors, who were so desperate to be heard by the mostly men voting on Kavanaugh’s nomination, for daring to hold an elevator door open or approach these Uncarings in restaurants.
It’s not as if these women brought weapons to the Capitol and planned violence.
No, these women were guilty of a much deeper sin than plotting to overthrow the U.S. Government and assassinate our then Vice President and kill the Speaker of the House. You see, these women wanted to speak about violence done to them.
And that is a sin that we just can’t have. We must protect the reputations of these men, these very important men who are entitled to ignore survivors of soul destroying violence and indeed to vote yes to send a man accused of gang rape to the Supreme Court without even a real investigation. Because women do not matter to the Republican Party, and really, just sort of maybe matter sometimes to the country, but probably not – especially if they are BIPOC or LBGTQ.
As the media shamed the victims for trying to be heard, for thinking they might matter or that the law should apply to them – “nasty” women all of them – many of us learned: Women don’t matter. Our bodies don’t matter. Our thoughts don’t matter. Our rights are a bad joke being told by a dangerously pompous and ignorant orange clown, who this country reveres more than they do our right to have the law apply to us.
The Republican Party began actually elevating sexual abusers before Trump, but he is their standard bearer for violent sexual assault against women being a résumé builder within the Republican Party.
What matters? Nothing matters.
Except maybe justice will matter, after all.
Here is to all of you out there who have somehow held on during the reign of terror, who feel broken, who swallowed shards of rage and will never see your country the same way again. Here is to your courage for surviving, for voting, for speaking, for being. Never forget what you did in November of 2020.
Sarah has been credentialed to cover President Barack Obama, then VP Joe Biden, 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and exclusively interviewed Speaker Nancy Pelosi multiple times and exclusively covered her first home appearance after the first impeachment of then President Donald Trump.
Sarah is two-time Telly award winning video producer and a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.