Donald Trump, the men who have grabbed me by the pussy, and you

2010, New Orleans. I was in a bar over Halloween weekend, waiting for my boyfriend at the time to retrieve drinks. As I stood near a wall, two men wearing masks moved toward me, blocking me in. One of the men put his hand up my skirt, maneuvered under my underwear, and jabbed a finger so far inside of me that I was nearly lifted off the ground. In an instant, he withdrew and walked away from me, their desire for amusement via my pussy satisfied. He and his friend turned back around just in time to witness the beginning of my panic attack. They laughed, and high fived; my knees buckled, and I insisted on leaving the bar immediately to go back to the house where we were staying. My boyfriend and his friend asked if perhaps it had been less severe than I was saying, and if I really needed to wreck everyone’s night with this. A stranger grabbed me by the pussy, but I was overreacting.

2003, Bethesda, Maryland. A boy offered me a ride home from school when I was 16. A few blocks from my house, he pulled the car to the side of the road, reached to the passenger seat, grabbed me by the pussy and pulled me toward him. After repeated vocal objections, I ultimately had to elbow him in the nose and kick out the passenger window of his Jeep to get him off of me and get myself out of the car.

2004, Miami. 2011, Houston. At least three times that I can remember before I started blocking out the instances of strangers reaching for my genitals in the last five years on the streets of Washington, DC.

That doesn’t cover the men who have demonstrated their perceived entitlement to my pussy by masturbating against me on the subway, guilting me when I turned down sex, following me home while shouting what they wanted to do with my pussy, calling me a stuck up bitch and ugly cunt when I declined their advances, raping me when I said, begged, pleaded for him to stop touching my pussy.

That’s what grabbing women by the pussy looks like. It’s what years of my life have looked like. And today I found out how many of you think that’s normal.

Donald Trump gets caught talking about his habitual practice of assaulting women, and suddenly all these men I know are out here saying that it’s just locker room banter. That it’s not acceptable, of course not, but it’s the truth of how men talk with other men.

I have trusted you, friends. Men, if we are friends then it is because I know you are a feminist and an ally in my struggle and someone who cares about women not just because we are your sisters and wives and daughters but because we are people with intrinsic worth and today I found out that I am not actually safe with you. That the most vocal feminist men among you will assert my rights and safety and worth in Facebook posts and comments from behind your keyboard but not face to face with your bros.

“It’s not right, but that’s just how men talk” is how you tell me that avoiding awkwardness when other men tell you exactly how they assault women is more important than the integrity of my body. It is how you tell me that no matter your ideals you have been complicit in my violation.

Donald Trump is a misogynist serial assaulter of women who has already caused immeasurable damage to our country. There’s really not much more to say on that matter that hasn’t already been said. We’ve already known exactly who he is.

But focus on Billy Bush in that tape. The sycophantic laughter. The way he listened to Trump go on about how he gropes and kisses women without consent, then immediately thereafter became Trump’s wingman, urging the woman to hug him.

Do you really want to be the Billy Bush when your friends start bragging about coercing women, assaulting women, traumatizing women, destroying women, breaking women? You can’t decry Trump in one breath and then be Billy Bush in the next.

Stop laughing nervously. Stop changing the subject. Step the fuck up.