Watching Trump Ascend Affirms American Sexism

For many people, watching the results of the 2016 presidential election unfold is simply terrifying. Although few expected the race to feature a landslide victory for Clinton, the closeness of the two candidates' numbers in many key states like New Hampshire and Michigan is an unwelcome surprise. Not only does Trump's unexpected success signify a potential loss for Clinton, but it shines a light on the number of Americans who seemingly agree with the racist and sexist campaign the candidate has run and the behaviors he's shown he supports.

It's no secret that Trump has run a campaign filled with hateful and discriminatory views, and that the candidate's behavior has been unseemly at best, disgusting at worst. His views and actions regarding sexual assault, especially, have been incredibly disturbing, with the nominee having been accused of groping, assault, or rape by 12 women so far (he has denied all of the claims and has threatened to sue his accusers if he is elected president). For many women, the realization that the American people have elected a nominee who has been accused of such crimes, has bragged about committing what amounts to sexual assault, and has made his derogatory opinions about women loud and clear, is hugely upsetting. And to see Trump find such success on Election Day, with millions of people seemingly supporting his beliefs and behavior, is even worse.

Trump's behavior echoes the prevailing rape culture sentiment that women's lives and well-being matter less than men's, and that survivors of sexual assault are not to be believed or taken seriously. According to RAINN, one out of every six American women is a victim of attempted or completed rape in her lifetime; two out of three rapes, however, won't be reported to the police, due to a combination of fear of retaliation, belief that the police won't help, self-blame, and more. All too often, victims of sexual assault are not believed, and are shamed for their assaults, told by both officials and the general public, if they accuse well-known men, that they're making their claims up because they're fame-hungry or desperate for money. Never was this more evident than in response to Trump's accusers. It's an inexcusable trend, and yet it's become commonplace thanks to the Trump accusations and the behavior the candidate supports. To know that so many women suffer at the hands of misogyny and violence by men, yet people still want to elect a president who doesn't have an issue with this behavior, is unfathomable.

All Americans should be ashamed that Trump has gotten this far and has a fair chance of winning the election. What he stands for is horrific, as is the fact that so many people either wholeheartedly agree with his beliefs or won't argue against them — supporting a culture of rape, sexism, and discrimination. We'd all like to think that we live in a country that supports women and doesn't condone sexual assault or misogynistic views. Yet as election night has shown, that's not the case. If Hillary Clinton is elected, we can be grateful that we have a Commander-in-Chief who supports women so ferociously. If Trump wins, though, we owe it to women everywhere, and especially those who've suffered sexual assault, to not let his views and behavior regarding women and minorities to represent our country.