By Brooke Winters
Donald Trump’s recently discovered 2005 sexually aggressive comments about women have led to a great deal of controversy over whether Trump is qualified to continue to run for president. His remarks have also sparked debates over whether he should resign and whether his comments are evident of sexual assault or ‘locker room talk’. In the tape from Access Hollywood, Trump is heard saying, “I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. I just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything,” and, “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
During the Presidential debate last Sunday, moderator Anderson Cooper confronted Trump about these comments, asking the candidate, “You described kissing women without consent, grabbing their genitals. That is sexual assault. You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?” Trump apologized for his remarks but also stated they were mere “locker room talk,” then moved on to talking about the threat of ISIS instead. Cooper repeatedly pressed Trump to answer if he had done the actions he described in the video. After dodging the question, he eventually answered, “No, I have not.”
These remarks, while from a decade ago, are still a big concern for both voters and Republican leaders. The explanation of ‘locker room talk’ did not sit well with many Republicans, who have since distanced themselves from Trump. Several Republican members of Congress have called for Trump’s resignation, including Senator Cory Gardner from Colorado. Gardner has stated that, “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.” Paul Ryan, the Republican Speaker of the House, has said he will not campaign for Trump and will instead focus his efforts on maintaining a republican hold on Congress.
Professor Lokaneeta from the Political Science Department said, “I think the fact that Trump continues to defend his words as ‘locker room’ talk by itself suggests that he is unable to recognize the normalization of violence against women that is represented by his words. He trivializes the violence that has been used as an instrument of power by men in powerful positions that sexual harassment policies have tried to recognize and address.” Lokaneeta went on to say that that whether Trump resigns from the ticket or not will not solve the GOP’s issues, stating, “Whether he should resign from the party ticket or not is an issue for the Republicans but to the extent that they did choose him despite the racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-immigrant comments he has made earlier suggests that the party as a whole struggles with some of these challenges.”
Many Drew students have expressed disgust with Trump’s comments. Alex Pearce (’19) said, “I wasn’t shocked that these statements came from Trump, but I am shocked that this is being revealed about someone who is potentially going to lead the country. Regardless, I do not believe women should be spoken about in these terms. Even though these comments are from a decade ago, I think he’s the same person today.”
Another student, Olivia Sznaza (’19), said, “I think it is inappropriate for anyone to be making those comments about women, let alone a presidential nominee. People are human and make mistakes but this is inexcusable. The President of the United States is someone who is universally known and using the words and phrases he did with the fame and notoriety that he has, ends up not only condoning but encouraging the further degradation and objectification of women.”
Hannah Kohn (’16) added, “The tapes of Donald Trump talking to Billy Bush in 2005 have been referred to as ‘vulgar’ or ‘crude.’ They were much more than that, though. Trump boasted about grabbing women without their consent – so by definition, he sexually assaulted women. And despite Trump’s claim that he never actually assaulted women, women who have come forward in the last few days show otherwise. Trump is violent towards women. This is something America has to confront.” Kohn went on to say that, “But it is just as important to confront another issue the outrage over Trump’s 2005 interview have risen: this level of anger at Trump should have emerged due to the countless racist, xenophobic, and discriminatory statements he has made throughout his entire campaign. It is deeply troubling that public fury only came to a tipping point when white women were the recipients of Trump’s abuse. While we should be livid about the tapes, we need to be just as critical of the comments – and actions – Trump has taken against other groups.”
To many members of the Drew community and the American public as a whole, Trump’s explanation of ‘locker room talk’ failed to fully recognize the severity of what his words mean. The full impact of these tapes, and any potential future tapes of Trump making similar comments about women, remains to be seen.
If you are a New Jersey resident planning to vote in November, the deadline to register to vote is Oct. 18. The next and final Presidential debate will air on Oct. 19, and will be moderated by Fox News host Chris Wallace.
[Featured Photo by Getty Images]