Womans’ Rights

In an interview for a podcast for “This American Life”, a Marine Iraqi war veteran recalled a sign in the operations center of his post – ‘what do I know, who needs to know it and have I told them.” For untold years, women have not been telling their story. The recent avalanche in stories of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct, beginning with Harvey Weinstein were dislodged when they heard someone famous, on a bus, boasting about how and why he is in a position to physically assault women.

According to the organization RAINN (https://www.rainn.org/statistics/victims-sexual-violence), a sexual assault is committed every 98 seconds in the United States. One in six women will be faced with either attempted or completed rape in their lives. The many costs to a woman, both immediate and lasting, are staggering. When reported and prosecuted, we learn that only 6 in 1,000 perpetrators face a prison sentence.

Internationally, UN Women and WHO (World Health Organization) report that while data is difficult to secure in some parts of the world, “It is estimated that 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner at some point in their lives.” Certain cultures and countries experience both higher rates of violence and lower reported crimes.

Looking at our news these days, we see that most of the powerful men facing real, life-altering consequences are from the entertainment industry. In the political sphere when accusations are revealed, the calls for action and/or justice swing widely. How one cannot apply the same moral compass to Roy Moore of Alabama as John Conyers of Michigan defies both logic and common sense. Senator Moore, who has been accused by at least 9 women (some of whom were under age 18 when molested), has been endorsed by the RNC, leaders across Alabama, and President Donald J. Trump. Congressman Conyers, already resigned, has been accused by several former aides (with one settled wrongful dismissal case) was met with calls by leaders for him to step down. Today, after support within Democratic ranks dwindled, Senator Al Franken announced that he will resign in the very near future. Are there different rules, different expectations for Republican sexual offenders than there are Democrat sexual offenders? It would seem so.

This disparity in how we are addressing these revelations at this time goes to the root of sexual violence: someone in a position of power asserting himself (or herself) over another. Is it because the Republicans are the majority in both houses of Congress and the White House, that they can somehow frame this narrative? Again, it would seem so.

The last world population tally in October 2017 calculated 7.6 billion souls. For every 100 women, there are 101.8 men. Keeping in mind the numbers reported by RAINN, UN Women and WHO, this translates into an obscene number of women who have had or will have a “#MeToo” experience. For some, the unspeakable has already happened. For some women, the horror has happened in support of a friend. For many other women, it will be a personal trauma for them, their sister or their daughter.

Can we, as citizens and stewards of this country, as the bedrock support for our families, sit back and allow Democrats but not Republicans to face the consequences of their wrongdoing? There is an absolute moral bankruptcy in applying this grossly lopsided thinking. Consider again that person on the bus who has been now been accused by 20 women of sexual harassment and/or sexual assault.

Donald J. Trump: You know and …
Unknown: She used to be great. She’s still very beautiful.
Trump: I moved on her, actually. You know, she was down on Palm Beach. I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it.
Unknown: Whoa.
Trump: I did try and fuck her. She was married.
Unknown: That’s huge news.
Trump: No, no, Nancy. No, this was [unintelligible] — and I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping.
She wanted to get some furniture. I said, “I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.” I took her out furniture —
I moved on her like a bitch. But I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.
Billy Bush: Sheesh, your girl’s hot as shit. In the purple.
Trump: Whoa! Whoa!
Bush: Yes! The Donald has scored. Whoa, my man!
Trump: Look at you, you are a pussy.
Trump: All right, you and I will walk out.
Trump: Maybe it’s a different one.
Bush: It better not be the publicist. No, it’s, it’s her, it’s —
Trump: Yeah, that’s her. With the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
Bush: Whatever you want.
Trump: Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.

This person has been and will continue to be directing the type and placement of both senior-level judges and lawmakers. Those selected, mostly white men, will shape the rules surrounding how sexual assault and sexual harassment are dealt with in the very near future. By helping Indivisible Naperville and other such organizations, by contacting your members of Congress demanding that the same laws apply to all and by voting in EACH AND EVERY election to remove these cancerous sexual predators you can make a difference. Raising our voices, acting, and joining together, it is we who can do anything. Not a game reality tv show host turned politician and his gang of flunkies.

The transcript above is from a tape in which Donald J. Trump repeatedly made vulgar comments about women. Mr. Trump was filmed talking to the television personality Billy Bush of “Access Hollywood” on the set of “Days of Our Lives,” where Mr. Trump was making a cameo appearance. They are later joined by the actress Arianne Zucker. The transcription is by Penn Bullock of The New York Times.

Submitted by Beth Wendt, Co-chair of the Human Rights Committee