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I am sure you were as stunned as I was when you finally popped open your computer this weekend after prying yourself away from the comfort of your cozy bed. Instead of seeing another ad for a pumpkin spiced something or other, headlines about what Trump said 11 years ago filled your screen. That’s right, he said another icky thing about women and it was just splashed all over every cotton-pickin social media site known to man.
Lovely. Truly lovely.
Hearing it and reading it made me angry, like red, hot angry. My face turned all the shades of red visible to the human eye, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why it made me so angry.
Oh wait, yes I could.
I know why it made me angry, and I know why it made thousands of other women angry, too. It made me angry, because a young man did the very same thing to me when I was 14 that Trump was bragging about in this tape fiasco. He, too, thought he had every right to put his hands on me, not because he was a celebrity though. No, silly Trump. Men don’t need such a luxury to force themselves on you. They only need to believe two things. (1) They can do whatever they want to women or girls. (2) Nothing is going to happen to them, if they choose to put their hands on women or girls without consent. But here is the real rub and it doesn’t have anything to do with Trump really…
My people were on his side.
Conservative, evangelical Christians, particularly men, were giving him a pass, because this was just “locker room” talk after all. It wasn’t a big deal. They could not condone his language, heavens no, but most of them were still able to shrug it off. “What about forgiveness?” they said. “What would people hear you say, if you were taped like a celebrity?” they demanded. Many of these same men were also antagonistic towards women who could not let it go. Then a despicable meme started circulating that said, “If American women are outraged by Trump’s naughty words, then who the (fill in any foul-mouthed word you like) bought 80 million copies of 50 Shades of Grey?”
My people were circulating this as well.
Dear brothers in Christ, many of the women who cannot look past these words cannot do so because they are not just words to us. They are memories. They are memories we never wanted; memories we can’t return. They live with us every day. When you dismiss this as merely a “boys will be boys” moment that is inconsequential, you dismiss the women around you with these experiences. You invalidate what has happened to us without our consent as if these travesties are to be expected and we should just embrace them as normal. When you share memes like the one floating among my Facebook friends, you imply we like being sexually assaulted, because a popular novel falsely suggested rape and domestic violence are synonymous with love.
Brothers, we are equal, image bearers of God with you. We are co-heirs of the Kingdom, beloved children of God just like you. This has nothing to do with your vote or your party. The message you are sending when you defend or sweep hellacious comments like these under the rug is that sexual assault is not a concern. Yet, 1 in 4 girls in the US are sexually abused before they reach the age of 18, and nearly 1 out of every 5 women in the US has been raped. These women and girls are all around you. We hear your words. We read your comments. We see your flippant disregard for our well being and you want to know what we are really thinking? We are not thinking about how you will vote in November. We don’t care.
We are thinking that your attitudes towards his remarks are an indication of what you are teaching your sons. We are worried that you are teaching your sons sexual assault can be shrugged off as inconsequential, because it is only “locker room” talk and women like it anyway.
We are worried that the heinous statistics which have shaped our lives will also shape the lives of our daughters under the very watch of a church that claims to be praying for God’s Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven.
My name is Leia, which should tell you that my dad’s favorite movie is Star Wars and I have some very unfortunate nicknames. I studied International Relations in undergrad and couldn’t find a job to save my life, so I changed my plans and studied communications in graduate school. Now, I have served The United Methodist Church for nearly 7 years in fundraising, discipleship, and communications.