Unaware his microphone was on, Donald Trump started talking about how he pursues women.
“You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them,” Trump said in the 2005 recording, obtained by The Washington Post. “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”
Trump boasted that his celebrity broke down social barriers.
“When you’re a star, they let you do it,” he told to then-“Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush. “You can do anything.”
“Grab them by the p----,” Trump said. “You can do anything.”
After the video resurfaced Friday, Trump released a statement: “This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago,” the Republican presidential nominee said.
“Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course — not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended.”
Corey Lewandowski, Trump's former campaign manager, also defended his former boss.
"He speaks from the heart,” Lewandowski said Friday evening on CNN. “He speaks the way many people speak around the dining room table."
Jackson Katz, co-founder of the Mentors in Violence Prevention, an anti-rape program taught at universities nationwide, said Trump’s comments attempt to normalize criminal behavior.
“‘Locker-room banter’ is not a way to excuse it,” he said.
Katz has worked with college students for more than 20 years, teaching young athletes to obtain clear consent before a sexual encounter. No matter who you are, Katz said, groping a woman without her permission qualifies as sexual assault.
Wrote Alexandra Brodsky, co-founder of the national anti-violence group Know Your IX:
How many men in your life think like Trump because they're "stars" in their own little special worlds?
— Alexandra Brodsky (@azbrodsky) October 7, 2016
A response that amounts to “boys will be boys” is “such an embarrassingly dated thing to say,” Katz said. “Boys will either rise to our expectations or sink to them, in the locker room or otherwise. And we need to raise our expectations for what it means to be a boy or a man.”
Back in 2005, when Trump made the comments, the nation had not yet buzzed about what consent means. Student activists at Ohio’s Antioch College had pushed the country’s first “Yes means yes” policy in 1993, urging men on campus to ask for permission before every step of a hookup, but the movement didn’t broadly catch on until after the FBI changed its definition of sexual assault in 2012.
The crime, once legally considered “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will” suddenly included a new universe of violations: “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
Now, the Justice Department writes on its website, sexual assault is “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.”
That would include grabbing an unsuspecting woman “by the p----.”
“That’s nothing less than someone talking about committing sexual violence — the kissing, the grabbing,” said Bridgette Stumpf, co-executive director of Network for Victim Recovery of D.C. “He’s talking about women as if they’re objects, as if they don’t have a right to consent to the way someone touches them. This is how sexual violence becomes accepted in our culture.”
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