Dear Men: Stop touching us without permission. Sincerely, Women

Donald Trump, 2012 Miss Universe, Olivia Culpo in Las Vegas (Image: Judy Eddy/
Donald Trump, 2012 Miss Universe, Olivia Culpo in Las Vegas (Image: Judy Eddy/

Can you even imagine if Trump had said that he likes to just walk up to people of a particular, racially-oppressed ethnicity and punch them, because when you’re a white guy, they just let you? Especially, imagine if claims were being made that he had treated people of that ethnicity in a hateful manner in professional settings?

That is what happened with the “grab” comments. Grabbing is a physical action, not a slur or a stereotype. Slurs and stereotypes are often hurtful and damaging, but they aren’t assault.

If Trump had punched a person of a specific ethnicity, then bragged about getting away with it on a regular basis, this would be considered conclusive proof of bias and hate. But when it’s a man sexually assaulting a woman, everyone needs a beat to understand.

Was this about lewd words? Was it about adultery? Was it about moving on another man’s wife? Was it about the creepy complicity of Billy Bush, wingman? Was it because he was talking about a white woman?

What part of bragging about criminal behavior is everyone missing?

How about this: men should never put their hands, mouths, or genitals on women, or anyone else, without our permission. This would clear up so many problems! So stop doing that.

Would we collectively be this confused if Trump had admitted to a property crime, and said that he could walk up to people and take money out of their wallets and walk away? If he’d said, “Yeah, you can just take their money without asking, pocket their jewelry to pawn it, anything,” would we be wondering if that really constituted theft? I am just all questions and rage!

The word “sex” must be what trips everyone up. Isn’t sex what women are for? Isn’t that what we are here for men to do to us? It’s the “sex” factor that turns assault into “getting action.” Here’s Trump spokeswoman, Scottie Nell Hughes, excusing his behavior:

“No, it was not [consensual] all the time. The things that were done [in 50 Shades of Grey] were not. You look at the vampire trilogy, pop culture itself has become very stretched in these areas. This is just a part of it, if you read anything from Sports Illustrated to Playboy, sex, unfortunately, sells.”

Except barely dressed or naked women aren’t “sex,” they’re people, even if they have been objectified for male entertainment. Assaulting women especially isn’t sex — it’s eroticized violence, coercion, and intimidation.

Donald Trump obviously hates women. He commits hate crimes against us and laughs about it, and the men he knows still act as though he respects women an appropriate amount. Don’t laugh. “Approximately none” is about as much respect for women as many men think is appropriate.

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) seems to agree with Trump’s insistence at the second presidential debate that grabbing women’s genitals without consent isn’t assault. Trump’s friends, Scott Baio and Stephen Baldwin, are apparently mystified by the uproar. The Donald’s son, Eric Trump, seems to also be of the opinion that his father’s words are just typical of how powerful men talk.

The not-all-men have risen up by the score to insist that they and their friends would never, ever say anything so terrible. This was surely well-intentioned. Consider this statement from former NFL player, Chris Kluwe, “I played a couple years with a guy who later turned out to be a serial rapist. Even he never talked like that.”

Maybe so. But this former teammate of Kluwe’s was obviously doing what Trump talked about, and worse. Have the norms of sexist speech simply changed since Trump and his cohort were young? Because it isn’t like the fundamental substance of male behavior or attitudes about women have changed.

If we should learn anything from a serial rapist being able to pass unnoticed among his colleagues, it’s that abusive men are as likely as anyone else to be sensitive to social norms about what they can get away with, and actively try to hide or deflect from their behavior.

Instead of desperately trying to minimize this incident and explain the comments away, we should consider that maybe it’s true that Donald Trump has never had a conversation with another man who has made clear that he respects women more than Trump. Certainly, no one he knows seems to have been bothered by his previous public admission to Howard Stern that he walked in on naked women while they were changing at his pageants, allegedly now including the teen pageants.

In the past year, many of us have seen stories from around the world about men who worked as judges, police, teachers, politicians, media figures, truly a dizzying array of professions, getting caught with images of child sexual abuse or being found guilty of abusing women or girls in their sphere of influence. Why is it so hard to believe that, in addition to doing these things, men with positions of responsibility in our society sometimes talk plainly about them with other men they judge to be approving?

It would make so much sense.

While it’s good that so many men have indicated they don’t approve (keep doing that), the retreat to shock isn’t helpful. So many women and girls have experience with men and boys who act like Trump has admitted to acting, that it’s beyond belief that the men who share our lives haven’t seen or heard about anything like this going on.

Really. I don’t believe men when they say they had no idea that things like this went on. Also, stop touching us without permission.

PS: Women really do hate it when men creep on us and touch our genitals without permission. Hate. It. So in addition to it being a crime in the US and many other places around the world, it’s awful and you should stop touching us without our permission. Swear up a blue streak if you want, but keep your hands and other parts to yourselves!

PPS: Tell your friends to also stop it!

PPPS: The Trump men and their apologists very definitely need to be told to stop it. Stop it!

Natasha Chart

Natasha Chart is an online organizer and feminist living in the United States. She does not recant her heresy.