Trump's deplorables hijacked Twitter and blamed Clinton
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A chorus of women has accused Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump of sexual misconduct, ranging from harassment to rape.

As the hits kept coming, Trump supporters lashed out at his accusers using the oldest trick in the book – hurling insults on Twitter. They started with the hashtag “TrumpsNextFakeVictim” – with predictable accompanying tweets -- and culminated with “HillaryGropedMe,” because – ha, ha, ha – you can never have enough rape jokes, amirite?

Except those Twitter responses – dismissive, disbelieving, and dehumanizing for the accusers – perpetuate a toxic environment that has kept women from reporting sexual assault since forever. They fear they won’t be believed. They fear they’ll be treated as the offender. In addition to other seedy elements of America’s underbelly, the Trump campaign has uncovered a thick vein of misogyny, where the average citizen is quick to revert to a behavior we should have left behind long ago, along with our too-healthy rape culture.

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“Rape culture,” a phrase once heard only from women’s studies majors. For better or for worse, it turns out they were on to something. We have normalized sexual assault, so that when it’s a matter of she-said and she-said and she-said and so did she, people – some of them, anyway -- rush to dismiss all those women telling all-too-similar stories.

Trump has denied the accusations, and even briefly threatened to sue the New York Times for their coverage of same, but then the Times’ attorney David McCraw took 45 minutes to craft a response, and became a national hero.

Add to all the accusations a 2005 recorded conversation between Trump and now-discredited television celebrity Billy Bush that included the candidate’s supposition that, given his level of celebrity, he can grab women by their private parts and get away with it. When confronted with the recording, Trump dismissed his lewd and violent conversation as so much locker room talk, to which an army of pro sports players cried foul. It wasn’t.

And while Republican leaders back away from their menace of a candidate, or they freeze in place like scared bunnies — here’s looking at you, Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanUSCIS chief Cuccinelli blames Paul Ryan for immigration inaction Soaring deficits could put Trump in a corner if there's a recession Paul Ryan moving family to Washington MORE — the rest of America has the good sense to be disgusted.

(For those who bring up Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump takes aim at media after 'hereby' ordering US businesses out of China Trump knocks news of CNN hiring ex-FBI official McCabe Taylor Swift says Trump is 'gaslighting the American public' MORE’s husband’s sexual crimes, those should not be dismissed, either. Nor were they. Anyone hear from Ken Starr lately? But to tar the Democratic candidate for her husband’s sins is a rattled gasp of a dying campaign is sad.)

I get it. “Innocent until proven guilty.” But the preponderance of accusations gives one pause, and answering those accusations with insulting, woman-hating comments and worse puts the authors of those comments beyond any redemption.

So deep breath, everyone. We have three weeks to wade through this mess, and then ladies? Let’s do as former U.S. Rep. Todd Akin (R-Missouri) – he of the “legitimate rape” statement that will and should haunt him until he dies – suggests. We do, in fact, have a way of shutting that thing down. Let’s do that, shall we?

 

Campbell is a journalist, author and distinguished lecturer in journalism at the University of New Haven. She is the author of Dating Jesus: Fundamentalism, Feminism and the American Girl and the upcoming Searching for The American Dream in Frog Hollow. Her work has appeared in the Hartford Courant, Connecticut Magazine, The New Haven Register and The Guardian. Follow her @campbellsl


 

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