The True Cost of Grabbing a Woman’s Pussy, and Why Pussy Will Grab Back

by | Oct 12, 2016 | Quirkyalone | 15 comments

pussy grabs back November 8

pussy grabs back November 8

The psyches of all women are affected now. One of my friends posted on Facebook, “All women I talk to right now are so filled with fear and anger right now that someone who hates women this much and denies their consent could be president.” Another female friend wrote me, “I feel like Trump has climbed into my bedroom and I am thoroughly disturbed.” I have been on edge, more anxious that he could win, more worried about what I wear when I go out in the street, angry that a man who boasts about sexually assaulting a woman is at the top of the Republican ticket. I sent out a version of this editorial to a couple of newspapers and one op-ed editor wrote me back, “Interesting piece but this story has dominated the public conversation since Friday and now readers are starting to move on. I can’t use the piece.” The news cycle may move on, but we have not.

Trump brushes off his 2005 comments about grabbing a woman’s genitals without her consent by saying they are a distraction from important issues facing the country. It is not just a “distraction” when a woman (or man) experiences a sexual assault. A sexual assault has lifelong psychological and health consequences, not just a person’s ability to enjoy sex but also her mental and physical health on every level. Sexual violation certainly has not been “just a distraction” in my life. My experience was childhood sexual abuse, and it’s made it difficult to be in a healthy relationship and may have contributed to my autoimmune disease. Not a distraction. Not really.

How did we even get to the point where a man who boasts about sexual assault, and then says this is “locker-room talk,” is the Republican candidate for president? I wrote a calm clinical essay prosecuting Trump for consistent disrespect of women but when I showed it to a friend she said, “Where’s the emotion?” I wanted to stay factual because I was afraid of being called an “angry woman.”

There’s a lot to be angry about but I suppressed my anger for many years. I stayed silent about the abuse that happened to me as a child, never telling anyone until I was 18. No one told me to stay silent, but I grew up feeling it was my job to protect everyone else from the truth. Everyone else’s feelings mattered more than mine, and it was better to leave the room rather than stay in the same room with the abuser. The cost of sexual violation accrues in the silence and the shame that goes along with that silence.

I’m unwilling to be silent anymore. Trump is an abuser and he’s abusing (and gaslighting) the whole country. It’s obvious this is not normal locker-room banter. Most men don’t gleefully brag about sexually assaulting women. His pattern of extreme disrespect toward women is well established. Just last week he was up in the middle of the night tweeting about former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, calling her “disgusting,” and a “con,” and claiming she appeared in a sex tape with no evidence. He has been accused of rape three times (Jane Doe in California alleges he raped her when she was 13) and he’s said if his daughter Ivanka were sexually harassed it would be up to her to find a new situation. He also said on The View, “If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.” (To which, the hosts laughed, “Oh, you’re known for saying outrageous things, who are you, Woody Allen?”) People making jokes about these comments is exactly how we got to this point.

Too many people don’t realize there are lifelong psychological and health costs for survivors of sexual assault. I’ve been researching the links between sexual abuse and emotional and physical health because I’m writing a memoir where an incident of sexual abuse is part of my story. Men and women who experience sexual violation often face years of feeling damaged, alone, and unlovable. Abuse and rape lead to clinical depression at rates 11 times the general population. Survivors struggle to enjoy sex, feeling like they are objects, and to form trusting bonds in intimacy. There’s a growing body of evidence that rape and sexual abuse negatively impact physical health too. Recovery from sexual assault and abuse is possible and it takes effort, courage, money, and often years.

Canadian writer Kelly Oxford shared five of her sexual assault experiences and asked other women to tweet theirs. She told the UK Guardian, for 14 hours, she was getting 50 stories a minute. Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network estimates that 1 in every 6 American women will be the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. I’d hazard those numbers are low because many people never tell a soul. As I’ve told people in my network about my writing project, 60% of the people I tell eventually confide a sexual violation happened to them too in childhood. They don’t always say immediately. That’s how deep the shame and silence goes.

Donald Trump will continue to say outrageous things for the next month, but let’s not forget: he was 59 when he boasted that he could he could grab women by the pussy whenever he wanted because he is a star. What I’ve realized from my own healing from sexual abuse is that anger has its place. Let’s not be afraid to be angry. Anger is a chance to draw a boundary, to say no more, to say back off. So it is with all my righteous anger that I say it’s inconceivable that we have even gotten to this point where this man is up on the national stage in the debates. A vote for Trump tells other people this behavior is OK. Republicans, you need to take responsibility for nominating this man. He needs to be off the Republican ticket. Now.

15 Comments

  1. Luisa

    I couldn’t agree more. Donald Trump’s behavior is reprehensible on so many fronts that I’m at a loss for words. I am glad that there are people like you who can articulate what many of us feel. Peace.

    Reply
    • Sasha Cagen

      THanks for your comment Luisa! I know what you mean.

      Reply
  2. Paula White

    Thank you for your post! In response to my anger for having been raped as a child and going into a domestic violence relationship as an adult, I finished my first Chicago Marathon on Sunday for my local rape and domestic shelter: 26.2 miles. It was my first marathon. I work as a pediatrics nurse in Chicago. Unfortunately, a good number of my patients become my patients due to rape and domestic violence. These children are caught in the crossfire. It is not what they deserve. When people asked me why I would participate in such an event and why I plan to do it again, I tell them, “Women and children do not deserve to be in situations where they are disrespected. This is a service where they are safe housed and away from harm. This type of intervention is costly. This does not include the counseling that is required. We are NOT ‘angry women.’ We are ‘action oriented women.’ As a direct result, I will ALWAYS be out here walking and running around for 26.2 miles in the third largest city in the nation because I feel it is my responsibility to let someone know THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE, whether it takes place within a home AND/OR within the context of a political campaign in an effort to seize control of an entire nation.”

    Reply
    • Sasha Cagen

      Thanks for sharing this inspiring response Paula. Love the way you share your story and have channeled your anger. Bravo to you!

      Reply
  3. Merle Bachman

    Brava for this, Sasha! The only place where I might actually disagree with you is on whether or not Trump stays on the ticket. He should STAY — because Republicans have to face the costs of their creating they context in which DJT could emerge. In a sense, it’s the political version of the costs Republicans like DJT’s running mate, Pence, have sought to levy on women who dared to terminate a pregnancy (even one resulting from rape; even one resulting from their own body’s miscarrying). Trump must be “carried to term” even if it destroys the Republican party in the process. Someone somewhere on FB wrote: “Trump might be the face of your rapist, but Pence is the face of every judge who overturned your case (or would not allow you to try it.” Let’s vote in massive numbers for HRC, to repudiate everything DJT stands for!!!

    Reply
    • Sasha Cagen

      I get your argument Merle! There are horrible more “normal”-seeming political figures peddling terribly destructive policies. The idea of getting Donald Trump off the ticket appeals to me symbolically and I think the symbolism would have great power. Either way the bottom line is that we need massive voter turnout for HRC to tell DT and people who are emboldened by him back off. Agreed!

      Reply
  4. Colleen

    I’ve never been sexually abused, but I have faced unwanted catcalls and stares from men. I was also a victim of sexual harassment from a doctor in a hospital I worked in, and I just don’t think it’s okay for people to get away with such comments.

    Reply
    • Sasha Cagen

      I agree Colleen. I’ve been thinking about the whole environment we live in a lot for the book I’m working on, and I’ve been seeing it as a sexually abusive culture where there is a spectrum of things that happen: from unwanted advances and stares that bore through your head to sexual harassment to date rape to childhood sexual abuse. It’s all a flavor of not seeing the other person as a human being and not seeing the cost and it all has to stop.

      Reply
  5. Phyllis Wilson

    Hey Sasha – thanks for the post! Righteous anger – HELL to the yes.

    I feel like in the last maybe 10(?) years, we, as a culture have somehow devolved in terms of our respect for women, for women’s rights, women’s voices… As if the strides we made 40 years ago have unraveled to the point where there are (many!! many, many!! shockingly many) people who feel completely justified and perfectly, obliviously okay in supporting this man.

    Or maybe we’re just hearing more and more of these stories (because internet) and they’ve been there all along. And maybe they ARE in fact fewer than before, it’s just that we hear them now.

    And maybe this IS what (r)evolution looks like – there are some ugly, horrible, violent periods and others that feel empowering and progressive and unifying.

    Any thoughts? <3

    Reply
    • Sasha Cagen

      I think this is a great question to ask Phyllis.

      On the one hand we didn’t have this level of awareness, freedom or openness to talk about sexual assault 40 or 50 years ago and women just accepted these things happening, internalizing that this was their fault, much more than they do today. That’s still a big false belief of sexual abuse and assault survivors–this was my fault–and few spoke about what happened to them. The NYT video released yesterday of a woman recalling Trump groping her more than 30 yeas ago on an airplane. She said it quite well, you just think it’s your fault somehow, stay silent, move on.

      I think in many ways we are in a much, much better situation than we were half a century ago or a century ago and we are facing a backlash like none we have seen before. I think that much of the country is facing economic decline and they are very prone to go for arguments that women and/or immigrants and/or people of color are to blame.

      When Hillary dared to say she wanted to do more than bake cookies in the 90s, those comments lit up groups to create a campaign of hate toward her that is boiling over now.

      To me Hillary is the hugest heroine ever for taking all this abuse and keeping going. No one has taken more for the team recently. She deserves a huge medal.

      Great question — fingers crossed and working toward further progress.

      Reply
      • Phyllis Wilson

        YES! Hillary IS a heroine. And you’re right – the hate campaign did start in the 90s – I didn’t put that together until now!

        What saddens me the most are the women who perpetuate, and even lead, the hate. At the same time, I’m heartened by the increasingly visible and growing numbers of evolved men. 🙂

        Reply
  6. Bonnie

    Sasha, you said a vote for Trump tells other people that this behavior is okay. I agree with you 100%. I am angry and frightened that this despicable excuse for a man may actually attain the the title of “Commander in Chief”. And what that will that mean for our children in the future is beyond terrifying. To endorse and elect Trump will give a green light for his type of behavior throughout our country. After all, the President of the United States is a role model for all youngsters not only in the USA but all over the globe. This person must not be allowed to lead our young men in a manner which will not only demean our country, but will also place millions of females of all ages in jeopardy. He must be held accountable for his actions and lies. I say “lock him up”.

    Reply
    • Sasha Cagen

      Absolutely he is not the role model we want. Thank you for this excellent comment Bonnie.

      Reply
  7. Stephen Butler

    We seem to be reliving a modern version of German history of the 1930’s. It seems to me that Trump is in many ways comparable to Adolph. It seems prudent to be sure all your assets are liquid and your passport up to date.

    Reply
    • Sasha Cagen

      I’ve heard a number of people say things like this Stephen. Let’s be sure all our votes are in by Tuesday!

      Reply

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Hi! I’m Sasha

Executive and Life Coach on a mission to help women connect with their bodies to pursue their truest desires in the bedroom and the world.

Author of Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics (HarperCollins) + To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us (Simon & Schuster).

At work on a memoir called Wet, about adventures in healing through sensuality.

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