It’s never okay to grope: sound of women shouting stop turns into a roar

Assaulting women has been going on in plain sight for too long – it has never been okay, and it will never be okay

Donald Trump has apologised for lewd comments he made when he boasted about trying to have sex with an unidentified married woman and groping women, saying "when you're a star, they let you do it." Video: REUTERS/ WASHINGTON POST

 

If Donald Trump grabs your “pussy”, you should just put up and shut up. Right? Maybe you should have seen it coming? Maybe you asked for it?

“When you’re a star they let you do it,” The US Republican presidential candidate said on the recently unearthed video of him on a bus headed to the set of the soap opera Days of Our Lives in 2005. “You can do anything... Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

Sadly, Trump was right.

Assaulting women has been going on in plain sight for a long time – as has that of Men and boys too, of course, but Trump’s focus here was on women. Adult women – as if that is any defence. Beautiful women, who should, Trump and some of his supporters might say, have anticipated a foreign invasion, then been flattered by it.

Some think that the sexual assault of women and minors was an occupational hazard of a bygone age. We should let it lie, they say. Kathy Weir (59) and her friend Maria Sekura (58) told Irish Times US correspondent Simon Carswell that Trump’s comments were historical and irrelevant to his campaign.

“I don’t care what happened in 2005,” said Weir. “They say: ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.’ He did something in 2005 and I know how women talk. When they are together, they do their locker-room talk too. What he said was between him and the guys.”

“I have heard worse from females, so it doesn’t bother me,” said Sekura.

There you have it, two Trumpettes from Beaver County, Pennsylvania, have spoken. Donald Trump has apologised. Move on.

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Trump caught on video

Survivors of sexual assault have always felt that other people would rather they move on, that they should just get over it.

A friend told me that she expected “to be groped on my way to and from the toilets” in a well-known Dublin city centre nightclub. In the 1970s? No, last weekend, she said. It is 2016 and obviously some men still feel entitled to a woman’s body as she passes.

Another Dublin woman told me how a man who was following her from the Luas asked her out, even though he could see her discomfort. She said: no. He said: F**k off.

That happened last Sunday.

Anyone who has watched a wildlife show on television will be acquainted with the M.O. of the predator. The lion will pick off the wildebeest who is isolated at the back of the herd. It works – ask the Lion King. And it has always worked for sexual predators.

But maybe things are changing and strength is being found in numbers.

Social media powerhouse Kelly Oxford got things started last week.

“Women: tweet me your first assaults,” she wrote on Twitter last week. “They aren’t just stats. I’ll go first: Old man on city bus grabs my ‘pussy’ and smiles at me, I’m 12.”

Oxford sat back with unremarkable expectations of the response. “It was such a personal question,” she said. “I thought, ‘No one is going to share anything on Twitter.’

But the herd grew.

Using the hashtag #notokay and posting their first-person accounts of molestation, by Monday afternoon, nearly 27 million people had responded or visited Oxford’s Twitter page.

Anyone currently watching Channel 4’s gripping drama National Treasure will have seen the way women were treated in decades past. Paul Finchley, who is played by Robbie Coltrane, sits with other television executives at a restaurant lunch. Debating if the waitress is wearing any knickers, one of the executives waits until she leans over to serve a dish before putting his hands up her skirt.

That is what happened. That is how sex abusers Jimmy Savile, Stuart Hall and Max Clifford operated. They picked women, girls and boys off one by one. They isolated them and made them think that they had invited sexual assault. They isolated them from their families and friends. They made sure they had no one to tell. Until they did. If they got their day in court, they stood up to their bullying abusers.

What Oxford’s Twitter trawl uncovered is that a lot of us have been sexually groped by the unfamous, by the unremarkable and by the unapologetic for many years. Unfortunately, the responses she received also showed it is still going on.

Women are saying that it is #notokay to touch them when you haven’t been invited to do so. It has never been okay, and it will never be okay, but the sound of women shouting “stop” is getting louder. The herd is growing and soon there will be no one left to pick off.

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