Why This? Why Now? Because It’s White Women’s “Pussy?” Where have you been?

It’s been two days. The news doesn’t stop. Facebook feeds have dropped from 100% discussion about Trump’s disgusting, rapey comments to maybe 85%, with headlines, comments, and re-victimizing the millions of women who have been sexually assaulted themselves and have to either relive those experiences or block themselves from all media — all because Trump supporters and Republican leaders have the most incredible powers of denial and cognitive dissonance seen this side of World War II.

When I first heard the news about Trump’s Access Hollywood video, I shrugged. Seriously. I didn’t shrug because it wasn’t another horrific example of rape culture in our society, now being celebrated by a candidate for highest office in the land. I shrugged because it was just one more revelation about how disgusting and misogynistic Trump is. There have been dozens of them, and those are just the ones that have been publicized for months, years… decades if you bother to Google. Why should this be any different? You could call it numbness, I suppose. Or jadedness. But I didn’t think this tape would make much difference.

Another friend shared similar sentiments: “Myself, I’m not shocked. Women have always been commodified. We have always been subject to being judged based upon what our bodies look like and what they can do for men. The reason we can’t walk down the street after dark or that we are asked when pregnant if we are safe at home or that we make sixty cents on a man’s dollar is that the words one presidential candidate said are beliefs more commonly held than anyone is admitting. And I would feel a hell of a lot better if people denouncing him publicly were also involved in making the lives of women less dangerous, in making them equal in value to men’s lives. I’m actually almost angry at how shocked people are. Trump has been saying terrible things about all sorts of Others for years — publicly. And he is the nominee because a sizable portion of Americans agree with him. None of this is new, and Trump isn’t actually the problem. When he loses the election, the problem will still be with us unless we actually do something to end sexism.”

She stated it perfectly, so I didn’t expect this incident to move the dial any more than any previous ones had.

Then I saw Twitter and my Facebook feed: so much shock, outrage, and disgust. The latter are appropriate responses to hearing a presidential candidate brag about sexually assaulting women without consequence. But the “shock” is what actually surprised me (that and the fact that Trump managed to say the word “apologize” even if it was a nonpology). Clearly I was wrong — this incident was different.

And THEN I was angry. I wasn’t angry at what Trump had said or done. I was disgusted and repulsed, but not a single word of that video surprised me except perhaps that he said “pussy” instead of “cunt.” I was angry because I had underestimated just how racist, xenophobic, misogynistic and hypocritical so many supporting Trump, whether enthusiastically or begrudgingly, were because they had managed to dismiss, ignore, accept, or explain away everything else Trump had said and done leading up to this moment. Harry Reid offered a perfect summary of the unending list of insults Trump has dished out to just about every group in America except heterosexual Christian white men, and now, somehow, this video “shocked” them. Those supporting Hillary Clinton or on the #NeverTrump train were not even slightly shocked, and I’ve been trying to pick out what it is that has made this video the breaking point.

Why did this video strike *such* a nerve? Why is it that Paul Ryan and Rince Preibus are finally distancing themselves from Trump, that John McCain has finally withdrawn his endorsement, that a Republican governor and representative in Utah are finally demanding that Trump step down?

All these GOP leaders are suddenly shocked, SHOCKED I tell you, at Trump’s words.

My friend GerRee Hinshaw summarized it better than I could: “I just can’t stop thinking about how it wasn’t disgusting enough, all the blatant racism, misogyny, fraud, and xenophobia. No, what broke you was that he brought the word ‘pussy’ into your home, the drool of predation just dripping from his chops as he exits the Bro Bus. But he’s flung so many things equal in degree of hatefulness and horror at our TV screens. Where was your outrage? Where was your indignance? Although I’m happy to see him fall, this sure doesn’t feel like victory. Especially when I hear words like, ‘women should be championed and revered.’ Stop trying to put us in our place on the wall of YOUR mothers, YOUR daughters, YOUR wives. We are women, period, and we are your equals. And whatever you may mean, you are too late. We’ve already seen what you’re made of. Unendorsed? Color me unimpressed.”

I have been thinking the same thing, with a bit added: it’s timing, the violation of a white woman, and the word “pussy,” all at once. No, I absolutely do not buy that it was because he was bragging about sexual assault. He has bragged about his sexual prowess — even on the presidential debate stage — for years. He has assaulted women for years. He raped his wife. He’s under investigation for raping a 13-year-old girl. His lewd comments on The Apprentice set created a hostile working environment. He has publicly shown disgust at menstruation, breastfeeding and pregnancy. He’s called Rosie O’Donnell a “fat, ugly disgusting slob.” The evidence for Trump’s rampant misogyny is endless, and history of assaulting women and insulting them literally goes back DECADES. He said he’d date his daughter were she not blood-related. He’s even bragged about getting “more pussy” than reporters before. He’s insisted on the importance of treating women “like shit.” His long list of misogynist pronouncements and lack of remorse might make Daniel Holtzclaw and Bill Cosby blush.

But that word. Pussy. It’s a pearl-clutcher for sure, and we have the tape, unlike last time. Grandmothers everywhere are fanning themselves. And misogynistic wanna-be white knights like Ryan are suddenly paying attention. Extra emphasis on the “white” there because neither Ryan nor any other GOP leaders have said a word about the week-long Trump tirade insulting Alicia Machado.

Sure, the timing helped. This video came in the wake of the previous debate — a disaster for Trump — and just days before the second, with his continuing tirade against Alicia Machado and the revelations about his behavior on The Apprentice sandwiched between. It came just over a week after revelations about Trump’s taxes and business dealings in Cuba. With a month to go, Trump can’t really afford any more scandals much less the constant flipping of an October surprise advent calendar he’s given us.

And to be clear, I’m not suggesting that what’s in the video is anything short of sickening. BUT WHERE THE HELL HAVE THE GOP LEADERS AND JUMPING-SHIP TRUMP SUPPORTERS BEEN?

Bragging about taking advantage of women without consent should disqualify anyone from the presidency, or any public office at all for that matter. But frankly, we aren’t exactly a society that takes sexual assault even half as seriously as we should. With universities turning a blind eye to sexual assault and college star swimmers and high school boys getting slaps on the wrist for rape… Let’s face it: women’s bodily autonomy and right to live free from sexual harassment and assault has never been a high priority in the U.S., and the GOP has been a substantial contributor that rape culture. And frankly, I actually HAVE heard men say things like this before. I grew up among some unsavory types, and minus the “when you’re a star” part, I have heard variations of these words more than once.

But I’ve also had a man jack off in front of me at K-Mart when I was 4 years old. And I’ve had a man on the #9 New York City subway fondle my vagina through my sundress when it was too crowded for me to move or put anywhere the box in my arms that prevented me from doing anything. And I’ve had a Wall Street banker attempt to liquor me up while groping my breasts and butt as I tried to untangle myself and escape. And I’ve been backed into a corner at a bar by a man twice my size that no one else noticed, having to rely on my wits to get away. And I’ve had a man begin masturbating while watching me on a train when I was in my 20s. And I cannot begin to count the times I’ve been groped, grabbed or pinched without consent. And I’ve been lucky: I haven’t actually been raped as one in five women are. My experiences are pretty common.

But NOW the Republicans pay attention. And I can’t think of any other reason than that the last straw was that word “pussy” — in his own voice — after the other events of the week and all the past revelations of Trump’s sexual behavior. And that’s inexcusably disgusting on its own because it means a damn word stung them more than every other racist, misogynist, xenophobic, anti-veteran comment he’s made. Either that, or they lack all imagination to believe he said things like this behind closed doors, which any thinking person could have written for a script based on what we know in publicly available information.

So a word — or a lack of imagination — matters more than the lives of Mexicans, Muslims, veterans and people of color. And it’s matters more than women — not just men’s “wives, girlfriends, mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, and grandmothers,” as those hollow white-knight Republican leaders so fondly like to refer to us.

Again, a friend of mine, Jessica Keirns, captures the disgusting hypocrisy perfectly:

“People were okay with anti-Muslim comments.

People were okay with a history of rape.

People were okay with the accusations and dehumanization of people who fled their countries of origin to pursue better, SAFE lives for themselves and their children.

People were okay with all of the other misogynistic rhetoric.

People were okay with the threats and support of violence. People were okay with the anti-black views. I could go on and on.

Yes, I am happy to see people finally coming out against what was said. Absolutely. But why is this the only line being drawn? Why is it not okay to talk about grabbing beautiful women’s pussies but everything else is okay? And would it have been okay if he said you should just do it to women of color? Or that it was okay to do it to Muslim women? Or immigrant women? Or trans women? Or fat women? Or ugly women? Why is it still okay to talk about violence against men? Violence is violence. Hate is hate. Threats are threats. We don’t get to pick and choose who deserves to be safe and respected based on arbitrary categories. And it blows my mind that the treatment of beautiful women is where the line finally got drawn.”