This weekend, American politics came full circle as feminists railed against the “rape culture” they’ve enabled and normalized.
Friday’s Trump tape, where the nominee of the “socially conservative” party can be heard bragging about how his preferred seduction technique upon meeting beautiful women is to “grab them by the p***y,” has thrown a totally predictable bomb into a news cycle that should have been about Hillary Clinton’s secret speeches to donors.
On top of the horrendous remarks by the candidate, both liberal Democrats and #NeverTrump Republicans have been appalled by the reactions of Trump surrogates, who have downplayed the comments as mere “locker room talk.”
To be clear, touching a person in a sexual way without her consent – and grabbing a woman “by the p***y” certainly qualifies – is abhorrent and criminal. But it’s liberal feminists and social justice warriors on America’s campuses who are to blame for America’s lackadaisical attitude towards Donald Trump’s hot mic admission that he engages in criminal sexual assault.
By expanding the definition of rape and sexual assault to include all kinds of what might be termed boorish behavior that falls fall short of the criminal standard, campus feminists have finally managed to do what the right has warned them would happen all along: they’ve lessened the stigma of being accused of sexual assault and made accusations more likely to be greeted with an eye roll than the condemnation of past eras. While in the “patriarchal” past, the kind of behavior Trump described would have ended a politician’s career instantly upon being made public, in a culture where pointing out the negative results of casual sex is called “slut-shaming” and the word “rape” is used to describe consensual but regretted trysts, even many former conservatives are failing to see how what Trump described is anything worse than a lewd description of the new normal.
Americans have been bombarded by stories of wrongfully-accused college men, who wake up after seemingly-consensual, frat-party-fueled hookups to find themselves permanently smeared as rapists before the eyes of the whole country, while watching their due process rights steamrolled. The average voter has watched as feminists (and our President) wring their hands over the obviously-false “rape culture” statistic that one in four college women suffer sexual assault, an account that would make American college campus rape rates higher than those in war-torn Darfur.
As Mollie Hemingway has astutely pointed out, feminists who glorify casual sex have left themselves with no language with which to talk about “bad” sex other than lack of consent. By characterizing regretted sexual decisions and post-hookup hurt feelings as evidence of lack of consent, rather than bad judgment and the inherent differences between female and male sexuality, feminists have effectively flipped the country’s default sympathy dial from accuser to accused.
Saturation in this hysterical message was bound to have an effect. The typical American now hears “sexual assault” and thinks about a regretted one-night stand, or loutish frat-boy behavior, instead of a brutal, criminal act. As some rape victims have been asserting for some time now, the most tragic casualty of the rape culture myth will be real victims, women (and men) who will now have to fight against a culture that will hear a man – a presidential candidate – bragging about criminal sexual assault, and shrug.