The airing of Donald Trump’s comments about groping women prompted a wave of condemnation and debate last week, after the presidential candidate graphically boasted of being able to do whatever he wanted thanks to his fame.
And though he and his supporters have attempted to defend and soften his words as “locker-room banter”, many more have pointed out that such ‘banter’ reinforces misogynistic attitudes and normalises sexual violence.
Now women worldwide are flooding Twitter with their own experiences of assault, highlighting that rape culture is still very much a problem.
11. It was a a crowded train, but I knew it wasn't an accident the man was touching my ass.— gabby. (@gabby_gillespie) October 8, 2016
I've been groped, followed, stalked, by different men. I never reported it and was always asked "what I did" by ppl I told.— Joslyn Corvis (@JoslynCorvis) October 8, 2016
In the 2005 tape, Trump is bragging to TV host Billy Bush about grabbing women while on his way to film a cameo on US soap Days of Our Lives, and says “When you're a star they let you do it […] Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Shortly after the recording surfaced, writer Kelly Oxford tweeted her first experience of sexual assault, asking others to do so too.
Within hours, tens of thousands of women had responded, many using the hashtag #NotOkay. Some said it was the very first time they’d spoken of what happened to them.
Neighbor groped me after I babysat 2 yo son while wife in hospital w/ 2nd baby. Was 11 or 12 yo. Never told anyone till today— Violet Bliss Dietz (@vbdietz) October 9, 2016
mine: 7th grade, 12 or 13, boy grabs me hard between the legs as I'm walking down the hall.— tedra (@ted_ra) October 9, 2016
Following Oxford's call on Friday, thousands of tweets rolled in over the weekend and continue to appear both under the hashtag and as replies to her original post. The Canadian writer has highlighted many by ‘liking’ them on her account, which can be viewed here.
Family friend laid on top of me on the couch and wouldn't let me up. I was about 11.— Jenelle Riley (@jenelleriley) October 8, 2016
While how common sexual assault is will no doubt be of little surprise to most women, the sheer volume of experiences now being shared publicly on Twitter is training an important spotlight on the issue.
Oxford, author of best-selling Everything Is Perfect When You're a Liar, described five of her own experiences, and later posted, “Women have tweeted me sexual assault stories for 14 hours straight. Minimum 50 per minute. harrowing. Do not ignore.”
If you have not looked at my time line, please do. I've had a million women describe their assaults tonight. A million. This is not nothing.— kelly oxford (@kellyoxford) October 8, 2016
I ws 14 grabbed off the street by 4 boys. Cop stops it, scolds them, takes me home & says good girls don't do that. Never told.— Penny *Poke-the-FUCKING-Bear* Johnson (@puristology) October 9, 2016
I keep remembering more. It's too many. ONE IS TOO MANY. Rape culture is women forgetting their assaults bc they're normalized.— malkarnia duprizzle 🥄🌈👑❄️🖤 (@mocoddle) October 8, 2016
In the Access Hollywood footage, unaired at the time, Trump initially talks of having “moved on” a married woman and “failed. I’ll admit it. I did try and fuck her […] I moved on her like a bitch”, before they spot actor Arianne Zucker and discuss her before meeting her.
“I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her,” says Trump. “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 responds, “Whatever you want.”
Trump says: “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Host Bush has now been suspended following the tape's release, while Trump released a statement saying, “This was locker-room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course – not even close.”
Images: Rex Features