Michelle Obama Calls Donald Trump's Comments What They Really Are — And It's Not "Lewd"
In a speech given on Thursday, after the release of the Access Hollywood tape that shows the Republican presidential candidate talking about not waiting to kiss women and grabbing them by the pussy, Michelle Obama said it was sexual assault Donald Trump was bragging about — and those words are important. "I can't believe that I'm saying that a candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women," she said in a rousing speech that has lit the nation on fire once again.
Saying his comments were bragging about sexual assault is an important distinction to make. Since the video was released, we've heard time and time again that Trump made "lewd" comments. But as Trevor Noah passionately pointed out on The Daily Show , the problem is not the use of the word "pussy." The problem is that what he said shows a willingness to kiss and touch women without their consent. Pussy is not the problem. The lack of consent is.
Obama made that point clear when she told the world that Trump's words had shaken her to her core. "This wasn't just locker room banter," she said. "This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior. And actually bragging about kissing and groping women using language so obscene that many of us worried about our children hearing it when we turned on the TV. And to make matters worse, it now seems very clear that this isn't an isolated incident. It's one of countless examples of how he has treated women his whole life."
Those countless examples she mentions likely refer to the allegations of non-consensual sexual contact that have been launched against Trump during his campaign. Trump denied all the allegations in a rally Thursday and said that the claims are a total fabrication and a conspiracy to keep him from the Oval Office. Those allegations included claims from Jessica Leeds and Rachel Crooks, two women who spoke to The New York Times to claim Trump had treated them the exact way he described on the Access Hollywood tape. Leeds claimed Trump groped her on a plane, and Crooks alleged he kissed her without her permission. Trump called the entire article "fiction" and a "character assassination" attempt against him. Soon after, People magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff penned an article claiming he kissed her without her consent. A Trump spokesperson said, "This never happened."
However, those two recent examples are far from the only allegations that have been lodged against Trump. The same New York Times reporters who wrote the story about Leeds and Crooks also published an in-depth article back in May that interviewed many women who have come forward to accuse Trump of unwanted advances and comments. Those allegations included claims that he kissed women on the lips to introduce himself, constantly commented on their appearances from their attractiveness to their weight, and made statements designed to make women feel small. Trump disputed all the allegations.
These allegations aren't something Obama is taking lightly. The allegations from multiple women, combined with a video that does show Trump bragging about kissing women and grabbing their genitals without consent (which is sexual assault), have clearly shaken Obama, as she said.
But for those of us who were watching her speech, whether live or after the fact, can take heart in the fact that Obama — along with many other women and men — recognize Trump's comments as more than just "lewd." Trump was bragging about being able to "do anything" to women because he's a star. Remember, this is not a problem of a man being lewd or crude. The problem is that he believes women are around him for him to use however he pleases. The problem is Trump.