This isn’t an SNL skit, sexual abuse is not a joke


Student protestor holds sign reading “grab ’em by the d*ck” (Photo by Tom Canuel)

Kathryn Williams, Editor-In-Chief

Former President Donald Trump’s town hall appearance with CNN came just one day after he was found liable for sexual abuse and defamation of author E. Jean Carrol. Trump’s behavior at the town hall was abhorrent and his treatment of women was appalling. The flippant manner in which he discussed serious topics about female sexuality solidified my belief that he should not be elected to represent a nation of 167.5 million women.

CNN anchor and moderator of the town hall, Kaitlan Collins, asked Trump about his notorious comment about grabbing women. When questioned about if he wished to take the comment back, his answer was no. He tried to explain that the comment was taken out of context and that the true statement was that women will let stars grab them because of their status. He claimed that he was not referring to himself. He said that he won’t take it back because “it’s true, and it’s been true for thousands of years.” 

This is a disgusting viewpoint that is degrading to women. Even if that was his true statement, his attitude towards women submitting themselves to the will of famous men represents his complacency in a cycle of power imbalance that puts vulnerable women in dangerous situations. 

Outside of the Dana Center, there was a student protestor holding a sign that read, “grab ‘em by the d*ck.” This sends a powerful message about role reversal. Perhaps if men like Donald Trump put themselves in the shoes of women everywhere who have heard him talk about grabbing them, their eyes may be open to the shamefulness of their words. 

Unsurprisingly, Trump vehemently denied that he had ever sexually abused E. Jean Carrol. What was troubling was his flippant attitude in how he defended himself. He went through the series of events Carrol presented in court, peppering it with sarcastic side comments.

At one point he called her out for having a cat or dog named vagina. My jaw dropped at this. I couldn’t believe that I just heard Donald Trump say that on stage, in front of an audience, on live television. It was almost comical how stereotypical his tone and inflection were too. I felt like I was watching Alec Baldwin in an SNL skit. But, unfortunately, this was not a parody. This was a real-life politician seeking reelection to the highest office in the nation. And there he was, mocking sexual abuse with childlike humor. 

I appreciated President Joseph Favazza’s email to the college community today which condemned Trump’s treatment of sexual assault and, equally, the audience’s laughter. “Let me be very clear, sexual assault is no laughing matter,” he wrote. Say it louder for the people in the back!

Donald Trump’s distasteful attitude toward women was hurtful, but not at all surprising to me. This isn’t a joke, this is real life. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, every 68 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. There are an average of 463,634 victims (ages 12+) of rape and sexual assault in the US. A man who unashamedly makes vile comments about circumstances that lead to sexual abuse should not be given an international platform to continue inflicting harm on female audiences.