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trump

Is the weekend after the appearance of naked Donald Trump statues in a number of American cities a good time to point out that the whole concept of rape plays a major role in the Trump presidential campaign?

Probably as good a time as any.

Because it does play a significant role, in ways large and small, this use of rape and sexual assault as an emotional frame for his politics.

It began on day one of his campaign, within the first three minutes of his announcement speech, when he started talking about Mexican rapists crossing the border and heading north.

In October, he told a strange story intended to make a point of some kind about Syrian refugees, and as the Truthout site put it, “In essence, he described Syrian refugees as snakes and America as a naïve woman. Again, it’s the framing of foreign men as a sexual threat and the damsel-in-distress imagery for the nation. He capped it off in a May 2016 speech when he said, “We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country.”

Rape is, of course, a political subject in the United States and understandably so. Some activists speak of a “rape culture.” There are specific complaints based in hard statistics about such matters as the numbers of rape kits which go untested. But these are not part of Trump’s conversation.

There are also, of course, assault allegations women have made against Trump; until they’re resolved, in the spirit of innocent until proven guilty, they’re just allegations.

But the use of rape as a concept, as a bludgeon to make people fearful and defensive, is bad enough by itself when the user is someone seeking to become president of the United States. – rs

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