Actually, There Are Lots of Reasons Women Don't Press Charges After Sexual Assaults
In order to accurately reflect its namesake, the eventual Donald Trump Presidential Library should be a chamber of unimaginable, almost Lovecraftian horrors, the political equivalent of a haunted house you can never escape. It should be a place of brokenness and incoherent anger, narcissism and blinding rage.
There should be an exhibit on Trump Tweets that horrify and disgust every decent human being although I suspect it may take three or four buildings to contain that much ugly online invective. It’d be a Herculean, unenviable chore sifting and winnowing through the online garbage fire that is the President’s Twitter feed for particularly, egregiously odious social media sentiments but I have no doubt that Trump’s recent post about the accusations against Brett Kavanaugh, his nominee for the Supreme Court, belongs in this Hall of Shame.
Displaying even more withering contempt for women than usual, Trump tweeted, “I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place.”
You’d imagine that a man accused of as many sex crimes as Trump would be careful and cautious about wading into a political mine field like sexual assault allegations against a man up for one of the biggest, most prestigious honors in all of American politics. Then again, if the President were capable of caution and basic human decency he would not be Donald Trump.
The content of Trump’s tweet is disingenuous and repellent, but the tone bothers me just as much. I hate the smarmy, condescending, patronizing tone Trump takes, the way he seems to think he’s straight up dunking on Kavanaugh’s accuser with what he seems to think is an argument so devastatingly, mind-blowingly effective that it completely destroys Ford’s case: that if the professor had been sexually assaulted, then she would have immediately told her parents and the police and filed sexual assault charges against Kavanaugh. He furthermore seems to think that if she did not immediately go to the police, the only possible explanation for her refusal to do so is that she is either lying about what happened or exaggerating to smear a good, innocent man for purely partisan reasons.
Trump is a quintessential one-dimensional, one-level thinker. His mind is only capable of grasping the most simple, obvious, child-like explanations for something. So it’s possible that he genuinely believes that the only reason a woman wouldn’t report being sexually assaulted is because a sexual assault never happened.
I particularly hate the way Big Daddy Detective Lawyer Trump channels Perry Mason when, before resting his case before an imaginary jury, he mock-piously proclaims, “I ask that (Ford) bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place.” Motherfucker knows that these “filings” don’t exist because there are countless reasons why women like Ford do not press charges with the police, or, alternately, go public with their experiences or even tell anybody what happened to them.
I am certainly not the first to point out that women oftentimes don’t report sexual assaults because they know how difficult it is to is to convict someone of rape and how painful, exhausting and traumatizing it is to have to re-live the details of your sexual assault to police officers and detectives and judges and juries and the press, none of whom are exactly known for the sensitivity with which they treat people who comes forward with allegations of sexual assault.
We live in a culture that rewards silence and punishes sexual harassment and assault victims for coming forward. Yet when women like Ford come forward, knowing full well they’ll be slandered and insulted, threatened and harassed for speaking out against a powerful man on the verge of becoming even more powerful, people ideologically inclined to think the worst of Ford angrily demand that she behave like their conception of a perfect victim or be dismissed out of hand as a scheming, lying, man-hating, politically motivated opportunist.
There are a million legitimate reasons sexual assault victims do not come forward, or press charges against the people who assaulted them. Shame is a huge factor but in his noxious tweet, Trump accidentally illustrates another powerful reason women stay quiet: by coming forward, women risk the motherfucking PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES using social media to disseminate a tweet to his 54 million followers condescendingly, disingenuously suggesting that if a woman doesn’t press charges IMMEDIATELY and tell both their parents and police officers (because, God knows that in the awful aftermath of sexual assault those are two groups of people the recently traumatized want to open up to and can always be counted upon to say and do the right thing) it’s because she’s lying and the sexual assault never happened.
The thinking seems to be, “If these lying, scheming, manipulative man-hating whores were actually sexually assaulted, then why didn’t they immediately let the police and the outside world know?” People who pursue this line of questioning aren’t genuinely interested in an answer any more than Trump is legitimately trying to get more information for the sake of fairly accessing Ford’s claims.
Instead, the people taking Ford to task for not filing charges are exclusively concerned with shaming sexual assault victims for not behaving the way they think sexual assault victims should behave. Trump, as a man repeatedly accused of sex crimes, has no right to judge Ford or her response to possible sexual trauma. That would be true even if Trump wasn’t the poster boy for rape culture but that of course did not keep Trump from wading into these shadowy waters all the same with the most odious, self-serving and invalidating take possible. It’s almost as if he cannot help himself, that his need to degrade and insult women both individually and as a gender is nothing short of compulsive.
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