Activists rally during a protest against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for his treatment of women in front of Trump Tower on Oct. 17, 2016 in New York City. Multiple women have come forward recently alleging sexual misconduct against Trump. Trump has denied all allegations. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Donald Trump may be the best recruitment tool the women's movement has ever had.
That he remains standing as the Republican nominee for president, continuing to enjoy the support of millions of Americans, makes clear that the fight for women's right to be respected and treated equally is far from over.
But the release of his 2005 boys-on-the-bus conversation offered a peek behind the seemingly impenetrable curtain woven from the combined threads of American celebrity, financial power and privilege. And it has rallied not only Hollywood royalty (thanks Robert De Niro and Tom Hanks), but also an unlikely alliance of professional athletes, conservative Christians and Republican power brokers to the cause.
Robert De Niro shares his opinion on Donald Trump. pic.twitter.com/MnjJ0D8b0v
— THE COVET (@thecovet) October 8, 2016
And although Trump's newest critics might not embrace the feminist label, and the moment feels like it's been humiliatingly slow to arrive, it's here, and should be exploited every bit as much as Trump himself exploited his inherited wealth and the influence and connections it bought him. Especially now that a number of women have dared to confirm that he was accurately describing his MO, as opposed to merely voicing his fantasies. (No one can convincingly characterize this as a case of "he said, she said;" it's clearly a case of "he said, he DID.")
So it is beyond galling that a woman widely recognized to be more qualified for presidential office than any other candidate in the history of her nation is still being expected to debate -- as if he were her equal, or even a credible alternative -- this man. Broadly acknowledged to be the least experienced candidate ever, he has matched her 30 years of public service with an unflagging commitment to increasing his own wealth and status, at the expense of his contractors, employees and the very taxpayers he's seeking to lead.
Here is my statement. pic.twitter.com/WAZiGoQqMQ
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2016
Moreover, although the footage that captured him bragging about his penchant for serial sexual assault was released only a little while ago, his depraved attitudes towards women had been part of the public record decades before he began disparaging the looks of one primary opponent and the wife of another, and attempted to discredit a journalist with a crude reference to "blood coming out of her wherever."
Trump's legendary objectification of women had played out on the Howard Stern radio show over many years. On air, he regularly demonstrated his view of women as little more than a collection of body parts, describing how he'd have no problem "banging 24-year-olds" but when a woman hits 35, it's "check-out time."
It remains a teachable moment if there ever was one.
The man is a wolf in wolf's clothing, a sexual predator with a sense of entitlement so vast and unconscious that he has repeatedly broadcast his attraction to his great "piece of ass" eldest daughter, and even found a number of occasions during the campaign to refer to his "impressive" penis.
And yet this blatant misogyny, although condemned in progressive circles and tsk-tsk'ed in polite society, remained sufficiently normalized to permit him to secure the nomination of one of his country's two great political parties. It took undeniable evidence of him bragging about his prowess as a poster boy for rape culture to turn the tide decisively turn against him, and even then, the widespread rejection of his candidacy was as motivated by his free-falling polls and likely loser status.
However, it remains a teachable moment if there ever was one. Thoughtful and attentive people of all ages and affiliations now have chilling clarity about the depth of the double standard and breadth of unconscious bias and its impact on women -- even those who have, in fact, worked twice as hard to be thought half as good.
This is horrific. We cannot allow this man to become president. https://t.co/RwhW7yeFI2
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 7, 2016
Here's a thought: as entire generations of decent men experience in a new way the sickened sensation their wives, daughters and mothers feel every time they're rated, harassed or assaulted, we need to keep up the pressure. So that #yesallwomen, #everydaysexism and #whyIstayed are understood and re-tweeted by male allies. So that men continue to decry loudly and clearly Trump's "locker room talk" defense, and reject his cowardly invective and pathetic version of masculinity as in no way representing their own.
It takes way more than a village to defeat such misogyny, and Hillary Clinton winning the U.S. election will be just the beginning.
Shari Graydon is the founder and catalyst of Informed Opinions, a non-profit project amplifying women's voices for a more democratic Canada.
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"Donald Trump’s behavior this week, concluding with the disclosure of his demeaning comments about women and his boasts about sexual assaults, make it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy," McCain said in a statement.
Ayotte never formally endorsed Trump, but said she was withdrawing her support."I wanted to be able to support my party's nominee, chosen by the people, because I feel strongly we need a change in direction in our country. However, I'm a mom and an American first, and I cannot and will not support a candidate who brags about degrading and assaulting women. I will not be voting for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton and instead will be writing in Governor Pence on election day."
"I'm out. I'm pulling my endorsement," Chaffetz said in an interview on Friday."I can not support in any way, shape or form the comments or approach Donald Trump has taken. This is so over the top, it is not even acceptable in locker rooms. It shouldn't be acceptable anywhere. We are talking about the president of the United States. I want someone of high moral values."
"I'm incredibly disappointed in our party's candidate. And unlike the Democrats who have proven completely unwilling to hold secretary Clinton accountable for her illegal activities that endangered our national security, I am willing to hold Mr. Trump accountable. I am therefore calling for him to step aside and to allow Mike Pence to lead our party.
"Donald Trump's comments regarding women were disgraceful and appalling," Byrne said in a statement. "There are absolutely no circumstances when it would ever be appropriate to speak of women in such a way.""It is now clear Donald Trump is not fit to be President of the United States and cannot defeat Hillary Clinton. I believe he should step aside and allow Governor Pence to lead the Republican ticket."
"I will no longer support the guy at the top of the ticket," Hardy said on Saturday.
"Donald Trump should withdraw and Mike Pence should be our nominee effective immediately," Thune tweeted.
“I can no longer look past the pattern of behavior and comments that have been made by Donald Trump,” Heck said on Saturday. “Therefore, I cannot in good conscience continue to support Donald Trump.”
"We need national leaders who can lead by example on [sexual assault and domestic violence]. The reprehensible revelations about Donald Trump have shown me that he can't. Therefore I am withdrawing my support for his candidacy," Sullivan said in a statement.
"I have committed my short time in Congress to fighting for the most vulnerable in our society. As a strong and vocal advocate for victims of sex trafficking and assault, I must be true to those survivors and myself and condemn the predatory and reprehensible comments of Donald Trump," Wagner said in a statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. ""I withdraw my endorsement and call for Governor Pence to take the lead so we can defeat Hillary Clinton."
"The abhorrent comments made by Donald Trump are inexcusable and go directly against what I've been doing in Washington to combat assaults on college campuses. Because of this, I am rescinding my support for Donald Trump and asking to have my name removed from his agriculture advisory committee. With the terrible options America has right now, I cannot cast my vote for any of the candidates, so I hope Donald Trump withdraws from the race so the American people can elect Mike Pence as our next president," Davis said in a statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
"As a woman, a mother, and a grandmother to three young girls, I am deeply offended by Trump's remarks, and there is no excuse for the disgusting and demeaning language. Women have worked hard to gain the dignity and respect we deserve. The appropriate next step may be for him to reexamine his candidacy.
Garrett said that Trump's running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, would be "the best nominee for the Republican Party to defeat Hillary Clinton," according to the AP.
"I will not vote for Donald Trump,” he said in a statement. “If Donald Trump wishes to defeat Hillary Clinton, he should do the only thing that will allow us to do so — step aside, and allow Mike Pence to be the Republican party’s nominee. If he fails to do so, I will not vote for Hillary Clinton but will instead write-in my vote for Mike Pence.”
"The comments made by Mr. Trump were disgusting and totally unacceptable under any circumstance. It would be wise for him to step aside and allow Mike Pence to serve as our party's nominee," Fischer said in a statement.
"I endorsed Governor John Kasich for President, because I felt like he was the most qualified and the best person to lead our nation. I certainly won't vote for Hillary Clinton, but I cannot and will not vote for Donald Trump," Bentley said in a statement.
“As the father of three young sons, I don’t want my boys growing up in a world where the President of the United States is allowed to speak or treat women the way Donald Trump has,” Rooney said in a statement. "“My greatest responsibility in life is to try and be a good husband and father. If I support Donald Trump, I will be telling my boys that I think it is okay to treat women like objects – and I’ll have failed as a dad.”
"I will not be voting for him,” Paulsen said in a statement.
“Saying this election has been incredibly disappointing is an understatement. It never had to be this way. We should be debating the issues that affect our nation’s future. Instead we have two horribly flawed choices. It is clear that neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton can unify a deeply divided country.“I have repeatedly and strongly spoken out against Mr. Trump when he degrades and insults women, minority groups and Gold Star military families. I will not vote for a candidate who boasts of sexual assault. It is my conclusion that Mr. Trump is unfit to be President.“Similarly Secretary Clinton’s dishonorable actions – flagrantly ignoring federal laws, repeated failures in judgment on critical foreign policy and national security decisions, and intentionally lying to Congress and the American people – have disqualified her.“I cannot support and will not vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton to be President of the United States. I will write in Governor Mike Pence for President,” LoBiondo said in a statement.
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