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Last week an audio clip of Donald Trump bragging about committing sexual assault found its way onto the internet. For many of us it confirmed what we already knew about The Donald. More than just being highly unqualified for office, he is an unbalanced, immoral, and a generally deplorable man (yes, I said it) uniquely and totally unfit to be President of the United States.

If the latest polls are to be believed, many undecided voters have also come to this conclusion. That said, however terrible Trump’s comments about his treatment of women, the worst thing he has said came in an off-handed dismissal of those charges at the last Presidential debate. When pressed by the moderators, Trump deflected calling the comments “locker-room talk.”

The worst part about that dismissive excuse is that for once Trump is right. The sort of disgusting banter he used in that clip isn’t at all uncommon whether it is in the locker room, the classroom, and even the workplace. In responding the way he did, Trump did something far worse than he ever has before; he normalized and endorsed rape culture.

He said what was in the minds of millions of Americans who dismiss such notions as little more than politically correct nonsense. They thoughtlessly reject facts and statistics about sexual assault and reminisce about the way things used to be before we had modern reporting methods and prevention methods.

Those words are so incredibly dangerous because of the complacency they inspire. The subtext of Trumps comment is that while it may be tasteless, there is very little legitimate harm in casually bragging about sexual assault. By extension, that lessens the perceived severity of harassment and blurs the lines of what exactly constitutes assault. This turns back the clock on all of the progress we have made to encourage bystander intervention and to assure we are receiving and giving affirmative consent. This is exactly the sort of thinking that emboldened the criminal justice system to give gentle sentences to convicted rapists because they had a few drinks when they committed their crime or didn’t have a prior criminal record.

The audio clip itself tells millions of young American boys that if you are a rich and famous that you can use any woman as a sexual object. It tells millions of young girls that in a mans world, they are little more than things to be groped and ogled by powerful men.

In his dismissal, Trump legitimizes rape culture as an acceptable ideology free of moral compromise. He builds a platform and lends a megaphone to the concept that sexual assault can be hilarious if we just take it with a grain of salt. All of us who recognize this for the tragedy that it is have a moral prerogative and obligation to push back aggressively against this idea. I implore all of you to do something today to raise awareness and to fight back. Find a volunteer opportunity, take a pledge, or share an article. Do literally anything to raise the profile of deep systemic struggle against sexual assault and violence on every front. Most importantly however, don’t forget to vote on November 8th.

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