By Chandra Ganguly:
During the second presidential debate, Donald Trump spoke one important truth and we must pay attention to it because rarely does this American presidential hopeful offer up facts. About the recent leaked video where Mr. Trump speaks about grabbing women, kissing them and basically about sexually assaulting them, he said during the second presidential debate that it was “what men say.“ And that is his truth and it is not new.
From lyrics in songs and themes in movies, to the men who look at a woman up and down as she walks by, the wolf whistle, the objectification, the need to cover up to the blame of rape or sexual assault placed on the survivor’s clothes or her being out at an inappropriate time or place — social systems across almost every country in the world perpetrate and support a largely chauvinistic order of society where the woman is a secondary citizen often unsafe on it’s very roads.
We women in America listening to Mr. Trump during the debate, we, who are not even his supporters, nodded our heads knowingly when he spoke. To the credit of a growing social awareness, in the aftermath, many men decried Trump’s ‘locker room’ comments as untrue. Yet, we women, across all walks of life, know that he spoke the truth because what men say about us has been our life long struggle whether in India or America. We women know Mr. Trump spoke the truth that evening because most of us have been assaulted in some way or the other at some point or the other in our lives.
I was seven-years-old when I was first sexually assaulted, I was 28-years-old when my first husband told me I was a ‘prostitute’ because I told him about my boyfriend. Mr. Trump fat-shamed a former Miss Universe, calling her “Miss Piggy.” Of Mrs. Clinton he said, “She does not have the presidential look.” In my life, my ex-husband often told me that I was not beautiful, that I was a woman with a misplaced confidence in herself because I was not even a “doctor or an engineer.” “Women like you walk on the roads of India.”
In between my childhood and my first marriage, I have been groped in buses, been followed home on bikes by drunken men when returning late from work and molested by my father’s friends when I was seven or eight-years-old.
In response to Mr. Trump’s videotape, Kelly Oxford started a Twitter storm asking women to write about their experiences with sexual assault. Kelly later tweeted that for fourteen hours straight she received at least fifty tweets a minute with women sharing their experiences.
So, let me say again that during the second presidential debate, even while the Republican presidential nominee offered a half-assed apology and then continued to defend himself, he at least spoke the truth. There are things men do to us, there are things men say about us, Mr. Trump just confirmed what we always knew, what we women live with every day.