By Chloe Lupini
You keep your eyes locked on your car as you walk through the dimly lit parking lot, keys clenched tightly between your white knuckles. The fear of who might lie in the shadows quickens your pace, adrenaline beating its way through your every step. Taking quick glances over your shoulder, you start to question your uneasiness; am I being irrational? Shifting your gaze around the lot you recall countless examples of women being attacked alone at night. You begin to wonder: if someone attacks me, could I really defend myself? Would anyone hear my cry for help? You reach your car and quickly maneuver yourself into the seat. You immediately lock the door and breathe a sigh of relief as you start your car. You can’t help but look in your rearview mirror as you pull out of the parking lot. Is this really the world we live in?
In the United States, one in every five women have been or will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime. Only 30 percent of those crimes are reported and less than one percent of perpetrators will face jail time. We as a society have deemed rape culture socially acceptable. There are jokes made in the hallways and in classrooms that are laughed off rather than shamed. Rape culture is swept under the rug, those affected live in fear and prefer to stay quiet rather than report what happened. Yes, this is the world we live in.
“It’s just so ridiculous,” said Loy Norrix senior Veronica Verity. “We are people you know. We have feelings. It’s hard enough for us to respect and love our own bodies. Men should respect our bodies too.”
In an old video footage released during his presidential campaign, President Donald Trump was recorded saying, “When you are a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the p****. You can do anything.”
Trump later excused his words as “locker room talk” and “male behavior.” “This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago,” said Trump.
“It is terrible and completely inexcusable,” said Loy Norrix athlete Adam Dorstewitz. “Having been in locker rooms and played sports, I don’t know what kind of locker rooms he has been in. It’s completely inappropriate and should have been much more explosive for him then it was. But he got to play it off because he was, you know, liable to ‘male behavior.’”
In the society that we live in today, the objectification of women’s bodies is socially acceptable. Our recently elected leader is an example of this inexcusable social norm. He claims women fawn over him because he is wealthy and powerful, but when they do not support his bigotry, they are said to be “lonely” or “miserable.” He uses his power to turn women into sexual objects and appropriate rape culture, and it is not and should not be acceptable.
Although many consider Trump’s remarks to be inexcusable, countless people believe that his words should not affect overall opinions on our President.
“What he said was uncalled for, but should not affect people’s overall feelings toward him,” said freshman CJ Carver. “Trump said that he was not proud of it [his comments] and it is something that he was ashamed of. I know he said it was locker room talk, but it was said from behind closed doors probably with the expectation of privacy. He does not physically show that he believes in those actions to this day. When you believe in something, then you take actions in those beliefs.”
“In America, we do not have a rape culture,” continued Carver. “A rape culture is where rape is normalized. And here rape is usually punished. And when allegations are made those follow you around for your entire life. I would consider that to be a punishment.”
Only ten percent of sexual assault crimes committed are reported to law enforcement, only four percent faced trial, two percent were faced with jail and two out of every 1,000 rapists are to be falsely accused. Part of rape culture is oppressing victims of sexual assault, and that’s why so many women are staying silent.
“One of the fundamental concepts at the heart of ‘rape culture’ is the idea that rape is inevitable, that men can’t help themselves and women must therefore work to protect themselves against it,” wrote Time Magazine Reporter Zerlina Maxwell. “Within the context of rape culture, the idea that men are entitled to sexual experiences is deeply entrenched.”
Often rape culture is overlooked and ignored. Time after time, accusation after accusation, death after death, nothing is done. Students all around us, in our very own school, are scared to walk somewhere alone in fear of being approached.
“I constantly get paranoid that I am being followed home,” said sophomore Ophelia Smith. “At one point last year my sister and I would walk home together, when she would not ride the bus there would be a red van and after she graduated it was there everyday. Not once did I see someone in the van but I felt as though someone was watching me.”
Denying rape culture is where we are going wrong. In the United States alone 600 people are raped in a single day — one person every two minutes. One of six women are victims of sexual assault, and only 30 percent of those crimes are reported. This has to be recognized in order to make a change. Women should not be told that it was their fault. It was not what you were wearing, boys will not just be boys. As a society, we have to stop telling women how to dress and start teaching young men not to rape.
Donald Trump’s opinions towards women have been profoundly straightforward. He has never tried to hide his opinions, no matter how controversial the topic may be. He implies unabashedly that women are sexual objects and are to be judged as such.
“A person who is flat chested is very hard to be a 10,” said President Trump.
In his book, “Trump 101: The Way to Success,” Trump wrote: “Beauty and elegance, whether in a woman, a building or a work of art, is not just superficial or something pretty to see.” He essentially demotes women to nothing more than aesthetically pleasing objects.
This is not what the “land of the free and the home of the brave” should look like. Someone who is strictly against respecting others no matter who they are should not have the amount of power that has been granted to him.
Donald Trump’s actions and remarks are not only influencing the advancement of rape culture but the younger generation of our country as well. When he comments on the way a woman looks or calls her names to tear her down, it is teaching kids that those actions are okay, that it is acceptable to treat a woman as nothing more than a body.
“Young men in America are looking at him and what he is saying,” said Dorstewitz. “And they are thinking ‘oh, well, he is the president so what he is saying must be okay, and it must be the right thing.’ So all Trump is doing is perpetuating a society where rape culture is already really relevant and is teaching these young boys that it is okay to do that.”
Junior Ferren Olmsted explained her experience of objectification in the halls of Loy Norrix.
“Here at school there are a lot of people who will try stuff,” stuttered Olmsted. “There was this guy in one of my classes, and he would come up from behind me and grab me and try to kiss my neck, and I said no. Then he tried to put his hand like down my area, and I said no. Then he tried to put his hand up my shirt, and I kept telling him no. He didn’t say anything, he just did this, didn’t think, just did it. We were just in the middle of class; it’s just not appropriate.”
For our President’s actions to be as influential as they are, these sexual remarks demeaning women are in no way acceptable. For Trump to talk about women as emotionless objects here only for the pleasure of others, is an endorsement of abusive behavior. His words do have an impact on others, and that needs to be recognized.
“You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful women. I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait,” said Trump.
His comments include condoning misogyny, fat shaming, attacking a woman’s appearance, sexual assault, to rating women on a numerical scale, the list just keeps going. In Trump’s world, women are things. And when he wants them, he wants them. Saying “Grab them by the p****. You can do anything,” is exactly what rape culture looks like.
“What Trump described in these tapes amounts to sexual assault,” said Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood. “Trump’s behavior is disgusting and unacceptable in any context.”
“I think it’s awful [rape culture], it is just terrible that women in this country are scared to even walk out to their cars,” said Dorstewitz.
Donald Trump is simply ill-suited to occupy a job in which his support is necessary in the fight for equality. Our President needs to be someone who will advocate for all of us regardless of ethnicity, sexual orientation, race or gender.
“This was not just a lewd conversation. This wasn’t locker room banter. This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior,” said Michelle Obama. “Hope is important. Hope is important for our young people. And we deserve a president who can see those truths in us –- a president who can bring us together and bring out the very best in us.”
We live in a world where women are afraid to simply be. Where it is way too easy for those to abuse their position of power while people look the other way. But change is possible. Make your voice heard, because there is hope.