02:31 - Source: CNN
Writer accusing Trump of sexual assault speaks out

Editor’s Note: Jill Filipovic is a journalist based in Washington and author of the book, “The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness.” Follow her on Twitter. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely her own. View more opinion articles on CNN.

CNN  — 

Again, President Donald Trump stands accused of sexual assault – this time around, of rape. And again, he denies the allegations by insulting the woman making them. “She’s not my type,” he told an interviewer for The Hill, reiterating a line he used against a woman who said he once groped her on an airplane (“she would not be my first choice,” he said in 2016) – as if that should make any difference in the allegations.

And again, his accuser is bearing the brunt of aspersion.

Why don’t women come forward with rape accusations sooner? Why don’t they go to the police? Why didn’t E. Jean Carroll, the most recent accuser, speak out sooner? Look around.

Jill Filipovic

The President of the United States has been accused of sexual misconduct by 16 women. Two of them have accused him of rape (the first, his ex-wife Ivana, said she didn’t mean rape in a criminal sense, just in the “he violently forced her to have sex” sense). He has been accused of grabbing women’s breasts and buttocks, of planting his mouth on theirs out of nowhere, and busting into dressing rooms full of teenage girls and young women. (He denies all of it.)

The consequences? Nada.

While the #MeToo movement has made incredible progress in holding allegedly predatory and badly-behaved men to account, the President seems beyond reach. His party has rallied around him (and other right-wing men accused of preying on women), essentially painting these women as unhinged liars and continuing to support Trump regardless of the volume and severity of the claims against him. Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising from a party that ran Roy Moore, an accused pedophile, for Senate in Alabama, and from voters who nearly elected Moore (he maintains his innocence). The Republican Party is fundamentally broken, and in backing a long list of unapologetically misogynist men, its supporters have given up any moral ground they ever had.

This is a toxic political movement. But it also leaves assault survivors in a curious place. Despite the wave of accusations before the 2016 elections, Trump still won – and many Americans continue to support him. These Americans, intentionally or not, are saying simultaneously that women who accuse powerful men of assault are liars, and also that any real victims should report their assaults immediately to be believed. Within this hostile landscape, of course assault victims don’t want to report, particularly if the assailant is a powerful man. Who wants to be Christine Blasey Ford, who testified before the Senate that then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her decades earlier? Kavanaugh vehemently denied this, and Republican senators suggested Ford was simply confused, and that a good man was having his life ruined.

Kavanaugh was confirmed to the bench (quite a ruination). Ford had to move at least four times, hired a private security detail and, as of March, couldn’t return to her job because of the death threats she faced.

The men and women who say that Carroll is a liar or a crazy person or simply unreliable because she didn’t speak out about this sooner are someone’s brother, sister, husband and/or wife. They may be related to, and even profess to love, someone who has been raped or otherwise sexually assaulted (statistically, probably several someones). If you saw your loved ones and community members talking about all these “lying” women accusing the President of misconduct, would you speak out if you or someone you knew experienced harassment, assault or rape?

The kind of attack that Carroll is under, and the total lack of accountability that the GOP has granted the President, are part of a broader conspiracy of male dominance and impunity that keeps women silent.

This misogyny is not just a right-wing problem, but it is a bigger problem on the right than on the left. It’s a political problem. Look at today’s Republican Party: Just 7% of Republicans in the House of Representatives are female (that’s compared to 38% of House Democrats). The larger cohort of Democratic women is reaping dividends for the party, which is seeing increased female support. But for American women, that reality reads different: One of our country’s two major parties has decided our bodies are literally up for grabs.

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    The GOP has embraced its role as the party serving the interests of white men. And it has apparently decided it is in Republicans’ interests to attack, shame, silence and ignore rape victims. They are led in this by their President, and too many of their voters largely go right along with it.

    Why don’t women speak out more about sexual violence? Look to the White House and the GOP for the answer.