Reading a book is NOT the same thing as giving consent

There are some nice benefits of being one’s own Editorial Board, such as the occasional willingness to break the long-observed writing rule of “LIMIT THE PROFANITY HERE, PLEASE”. This is one of those times.

With the revelation that Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump had made comments 11 years ago stating that “when you’re a star” you can grab women “by the pussy”, that “You can do anything”, a slew of defenders have rushed to the aid of someone we already knew was a misogynist, someone we already knew disrespected women.

These mansplainers have come out with the argument that books like “Fifty Shades of Grey” sold by the millions, therefore millions of women must want to be grabbed by the pussy–or whatever it was that the titular dom, Christian Grey, foisted on the meek Anastasia Steele. Fellas, not just no but HELL NO.

Reading a book about sex isn’t the same thing as giving consent to sex. And reading a book about sex sure as hell isn’t the same thing as giving consent to touching from another person. It’s reading. In fact, the book in question–touted by Trumpers as justification for his assaults–is a work of FICTION. Fiction isn’t real. It isn’t necessarily what we want to happen, either. I just finished reading “The Man In The High Castle” and I have zero desire to live in a world where the Axis powers have divided up America and rule with an iron fist.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been sexually assaulted by someone. Too many damn hands go up. When author Kelly Oxford tweeted a request asking for women to post their stories of sexual assault, she figured she’d let it go if no one answered back. Instead, she got millions of responses. Our country has fostered and supported a rape culture of “boys will be boys” that makes it okay to touch, perpetuating the deeply flawed idea that women are property or they must “owe” something.

I still remember all too vividly the assistant manager at a store where I worked in high school–the one who walked me home when it was dark but then wouldn’t let me go inside my house until I kissed him.

I still remember the guy at the fraternity party who thought that my interest in seeing more of his fraternity house meant “I want to be groped” and not “I want to see more of the house.”

I know too many victims of sexual assault–date rapes, in particular–where hanging out with a friend cruelly morphed into someone they trusted to show respect breaking boundaries and violating them.

It’s never okay.

The argument of “But she reads stories with sex” is just another angle on “Did you see how she was dressed?” It’s still bullshit. It’s still unacceptable. It’s still someone violating societal rules that say KEEP THE FUCK OUT OF MY PERSONAL SPACE UNTIL I TELL YOU SPECIFICALLY IT IS OKAY TO BE IN MY PERSONAL SPACE.

We already know that Trump has no respect for the sanctity of marriage, otherwise he wouldn’t have broken his marriage vows with at least one woman he later married. Hypocritically, he beats with a verbal stick a woman who stuck by a husband who cheated on her repeatedly–while flaunting his own infidelities.

It doesn’t matter what women read or don’t read. It doesn’t matter whether they use the words “fuck” or “pussy” in casual conversation. Grabbing ANYONE by ANY part of their body without their consent is assault. Period.

Letting lies stand and perpetuating rape culture bullshit is unacceptable. I’m not surprised to hear that Trump said these things–even a decade ago–and it has no effect on my vote. What it does do, however, is remind me yet again how far we have to come in terms of showing respect for women all over the country. It reminds me that there are still too many people who hold the Neanderthal mindset that women are just two tits, a hole, and a heartbeat…and now these jackasses have Internet access.

People aren’t property, and this whole ridiculous misogynistic rationalization is just another sign that too many people live in a past we should have long since evolved beyond.

It’s on us–as parents–to teach our kids to respect other people and their personal space.

It’s on us–as adults–to call out inappropriate behavior and not let it pass without pushback.

It’s on us–as a society–to stop the marginalization and dehumanization of 51% of our country’s population.

It’s not about “Fifty Shades of Grey”. It’s about misogyny, it’s about rape culture, and it’s about fucking time we put a stop to all of it.

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