This Week in Women: The Reclaiming The P*ssy Edition
This past week in the world of women was a doozy. True, we’ve seen some pretty crazy and reprehensible stunts from Donald Trump during this presidential race but in an explosive turn of events that included a leaked conversation from the 2005 Access Hollywood set and his subsequent unhinged debate performance, this week takes every cake. In fact, many Americans have responded to the leaked conversation with resounding disgust, leaving Trump lagging far behind Hillary Clinton in almost all national polls, even by as much as 11 percent in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. And from the looks of it, there may be many more stormy October surprises to come. It’s another this week in women: the grabbin’ back the pussy edition!
Trump’s Locker Room Talk
The Trump Train went off the rails into uncharted territory this week with the astounding hot mic dialogue between the Republican Party nominee and former Access Hollywood host, Billy Bush. This tape is an astronomical low for the candidate who seems to have lost every vestige of propriety and sensibility while in the political spotlight. In the tape, first reported by The Washington Post, Trump can be heard telling Bush, “I’ve got to 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.”
Tic Tac respects all women. We find the recent statements and behavior completely inappropriate and unacceptable.
— Tic Tac USA (@TicTacUSA) October 8, 2016
If that wasn’t disgusting enough, he goes on to say, “And when you’re a star, they let you do it… Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Trump’s apology was not much of an apology, and he has been quick to sidestep accountability, chalking up the incident to nothing more than “locker room talk,” as he said at the debate. What’s more, he added at the debate, many of his vocal supporters and surrogates have adopted this stance and brushed off the incident as “just words.” To the hundreds of millions of women around the world, this rhetoric is not only hurtful, it is dangerous.
Part of the problem with rape culture is the inability to call these conversations what they are: misogynistic and unacceptable attitudes that perpetuate male privilege and belittle and demean women and their autonomy. We have seen this type of downplay in recent events, such as the Brock Turner case, and it does very little to help women feel safe, supported, or respected.
Over the weekend, many notable Republican leaders began abandoning their candidate in an effort to preserve their bases and distance themselves from the brewing scandal. And it seems that Republican higher-ups aren’t the only ones dissenting the orange demagogue; Melania Trump, whether intentionally or not, delightfully trolled her husband on debate night, wearing an $1,100 silk Gucci “Pussy Bow” shirt.
Trump’s Erratic Bully Tactics at the Debate
Sunday night heralded the second presidential debate, and the 66.5 million viewers who tuned in were treated to a gloves-off showdown, in which the embattled Republican presidential nominee varied between predatory stalking to lurking sullenly behind his chair and his opponent. Trump’s body language was anything but friendly—and the feeling, it seemed, was mutual; when the debate started, the nominees bypassed the initial handshake formalities and went directly into questions from the moderators. It wasn’t long before Trump had risen from his seat and started pacing the room.
Much like the first debate, Trump racked up a hefty interruption count, frequently blustering and interjecting with rebuttals and shallow zingers. According to Five Thirty Eight’s count, he interrupted Clinton eight times and had 19 fleeting interjections— (compared to her zero interruptions and three fleeting interjections). At one point, he even threatened her with jail time.
This type of bullying smacks of sexist culture—especially in light of Trump’s very bad week and his lack of policy knowledge and debate preparation. Trump sniffled, guffawed and harrumphed over many of Clinton’s more salient points, using rude body language to wedge his way into the conversation.
Trump’s bizarre display of dominance was not lost on viewers, who quickly took to Twitter to weigh in and create some “lurking” memes.
Something else really BOTHERED me about Trump tonight… he constantly LURKED and FOLLOWED Clinton around the stage https://t.co/Yj2bhBTDWt
— Emmy Rossum (@emmyrossum) October 10, 2016
— Shirley Li (@shirklesxp) October 10, 2016
— Marcie Bianco (@MarcieBianco) October 10, 2016
Amber Tamblyn Shares Painful Story in Response to Trump’s Callous Remarks
The “pussy grabbing” scandal is deservedly getting a tougher look as the week progresses, and it is at the forefront of headlines just 26 days before the election. While Trump’s camp is continuing to downplay it as mere “locker room talk,” there are many who have been quick to publicly criticize the billionaire for his lecherous comments.
One of these brave souls was Amber Tamblyn, who candidly posted a heartbreaking story to Instagram on Sunday that details a highly invasive encounter with an ex-boyfriend.
I need to tell you a story. With the love and support of my husband, I've decided to share it publicly. A very long time ago I ended a long emotionally and physically abusive relationship with a man I had been with for some time. One night I was at a show with a couple girlfriends in Hollywood, listening to a DJ we all loved. I knew there was a chance my ex could show up, but I felt protected with my girls around me. Without going into all the of the details, I will tell you that my ex did show up, and came up to me in the crowd. He's a big guy, taller than me. The minute he saw me, he picked me up with one hand by my hair and with his other hand, he grabbed me under my skirt by my vagina— my pussy?— and lifted me up off the floor, literally, and carried me, like something he owned, like a piece of trash, out of the club. His fingers were practically inside of me, his other hand wrapped tightly around my hair. I screamed and kicked and cried. He carried me this way, suspended by his hands, all the way across the room, pushing past people until he got to the front door. My friends ran after him, trying to stop him. We got to the front door and I thank God his brothers were also there and intervened. In the scuffle he grabbed at my clothes, trying to hold onto me, screaming at me, and inadvertently ripped off my grandmother’s necklace, which I was wearing. The rest of this night is a blur I do not remember. How I got out to the car. How I got away from him that night. I never returned for my necklace either. That part of my body, which the current Presidential Nominee of the United States Donald Trump recently described as something he’d like to grab a woman by, was bruised from my ex-boyfriend's violence for at least the next week. I had a hard time wearing jeans. I couldn’t sleep without a pillow between my legs to create space. To this day I remember that moment. I remember the shame. I am afraid my mom will read this post. I'm even more afraid that my father could ever know this story. That it would break his heart. I couldn't take that. But you understand, don't you? I needed to tell a story. Enjoy the debates tonight.
“That part of my body, which the current Presidential Nominee of the United States Donald Trump recently described as something he’d like to grab a woman by, was bruised from my ex-boyfriend’s violence for a least the next week,” wrote Tamblyn. “To this day I remember the moment. I remember the shame.”
Tamblyn’s harrowing and painful recollection garnered ample support, and even encouraged other women to come forward and share their own stories of abuse.
According to statistics shared by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 63 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to the police. The conversation that Tamblyn started serves as a strong antidote to the cultural norms that would seek to shut down and normalize victims’ experiences.
Image via Lenny Letter.
Stay tuned to Milk for more of This Week in Women and check out our previous installments here.