Yesterday, at a Clinton/Kaine Campaign rally in New Hampshire, Michelle Obama gave an incisive and truly touching speech. The First Lady responded to the misogynistic and predatory comments made by Trump in a video released six days ago.
Trump, who was wearing a hot mic at the time and unaware that he was being recorded as he talked with Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush, spoke about his sexual prowess with women, referring to both the interviewer that they were driving to meet and to women in general. His comments include:
“Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
“Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Obama’s speech was powerful and moving; she herself even became emotional at several points. She spoke of how Trump’s comments impacted her personally, saying:
“It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn’t have predicted.”
She spoke to universal experiences that all people who have been in positions of vulnerability, but particularly young women, have endured. Trump's comments, she said, were more than ‘locker room banter’ — they are tools used to shame and belittle women; to make them marginal and small.
“It's that feeling of terror and violation that too many women have felt when someone has grabbed them, or forced himself on them and they've said no but he didn't listen - something that we know happens on college campuses and countless other places every single day. It reminds us of stories we heard from our mothers and grandmothers about how, back in their day, the boss could say and do whatever he pleased to the women in the office, and even though they worked so hard, jumped over every hurdle to prove themselves, it was never enough.”
In a campaign between the first female candidate from a major party and a figure like Trump, it is understandable why misogyny and predatory language would be a central focus. There are many who support Trump because, they believe, he speak his mind — because he is as candid and free-wheeling as any football coach.
Obama’s words cut through this, however. She speaks of the impact that Trump’s comments have on young people — the impact that they have on young girls, who are subject to sexism, and to young men, who will have their behavior and attitudes towards sex and women impacted by hearing the GOP candidate talk like this. They are the ones who could grow up under a Trump presidency, and they will be the worse for it.
Trump’s words speak to the fact that misogyny and a culture that facilitates sexual assault is all-too-present in modern American society. The First Lady continued, saying:
“So many have worked for so many years to end this kind of violence and abuse and disrespect, but here we are, in 2016, and we're hearing these exact same things every day on the campaign trail. We are drowning in it.”
This is no longer simply about politics. This is a moral decision, a decision about what direction we, as a people, wish to choose for our country. Do we wish to choose to perpetuate the marginalization and subjugation of women in the United States, or do we wish to address it?
Whatever else your opinion of Trump and Clinton and their respective policies, it has become startlingly clear that this election has become about preventing a man who says hateful and debasing things about marginalized people from becoming our leader. Donal Trump has a long history of racist, sexist, homophobic, and islamophobic language, and he often incites violence and hatred as he does so. He has demonstrated throughout his candidacy and throughout his life is that he has no interest whatsoever in making America a more equitable and tolerant country; he will continue to demonstrate that as President.
As Michelle Obama said:
“People who are truly strong lift others up. People who are truly powerful bring others together. And that is what we need in our next president. We need someone who is a uniting force in this country. We need someone who will heal the wounds that divide us, someone who truly cares about us and our children, someone with strength and compassion to lead this country forward.”
Image Credit: YouTube
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