In my 20 years on this earth, I have noticed an unsettling trend that seems to emerge whenever men in the public eye mess up: society rushes to their defence.
I noticed it in the Steubenville case, where the reaction of this town to the public and repeated sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl, by two high school football players was to defend the rapists, and plea not to ruin their futures.
I noticed it in the case of Brock Turner, who was given a mere three-month sentence for the sexual assault of an unconscious woman, which prompted the media to publish article after article, referring to Turner’s ruined career as a champion swimmer – as if that was the biggest injustice to come out of the rape.
I have noticed it happen in my own social circles, where men I know commit sexual assault, with the response by those around me being to cover it up and ensure that we are protecting the future of these men.
Most recently, I have noticed it with the release of a tape of Donald Trump talking about different ways to assault women. Since the release of these tapes, Trump has referred to the conversation as ‘locker-room banter’ – An excuse that blatantly encompasses rape culture, as Trump justifies the idea that it is okay to degrade and assault women, so long as it is done in private and is all in good fun.
Enough is enough.
The sheer fact that a U.S. presidential nominee is still able to run in the election, in the face of these comments is absurd. However, the fact that we tell our young girls that ‘boys will be boys’ instils a sense of toxic masculinity in our young boys, and is what leads to a society that accepts these comments of a presidential nominee. We have helped create a society in which rape culture is so deeply engrained in us, in which we victim blame the voiceless and give voice to the perpetrators. It’s time to end the culture, to speak up for these victims and to stand up against these perpetrators.
By next week, this would have all blown over. Donald Trump will be able to continue with his campaign, forgetting that the public ever saw the tape. The world will continue to laugh along with him, unaware of how this laughter only makes him stronger. Society will continue to ignore the vulnerable, allowing those who commit sexual assault to rise up on our shoulders.
I don’t have all the answers, and I certainly have a whole lot more questions. I’m in no way claiming to know it all. But what I do know, is that the more I hear about these people being able to get away with horrendous acts of sexual assault, the more I become certain that a change is needed, and a change is needed now. With the creation of a hashtag #NotOkay encouraging women to share their stories of assault, and 50 stories per minute being tweeted – it is time to stand up.