Trump is retraumatizing many women…

A former model has come forward to accuse Trump of sexually assaulting her at the US Open tennis tournament in New York on 5 September 1997. Amy Dorris alleged that Trump assaulted her outside the bathroom in his VIP box at the tournament: “I was in his grip, and I couldn’t get out of it”, she said.

We are in Canada, but Trump is everywhere…Trump dominates the news and all the Trump news is appalling, shocking, infuriating and it is hurting many people. It is hurting women, like Amy everywhere.

When I was a student, I felt so grateful for all the women who paved the way for women from my generation. Women, one generation up from me, who are now in their 70s, and older, who started peer groups for women who were sexually assaulted, who facilitated groups on intimate partner violence, who talked about sex and our right to enjoy sex. The women who were my professors teaching women’s studies. The female boss, who supported me when I was subjected to harassment during my first intern job.

Many of these women had been treated inferior based on being female. Many of these women did not get the opportunity to study, to play the sports they were interested in or to pursue a career they wanted. At work, they received lower wages than their male colleagues and they often missed out on a promotion. Many of these women as kids were told what was appropriate for a girl to do and they were criticized when they did not fit the mould. These women stood up and made changes and so many of us younger women benefited from their words, their books and their braveness.

When I became an adult, I saw that change, that hopeful change. It was slow and depending on where you lived, you might have had more or less opportunities, but the world was gradually changing. It was no longer acceptable to be subjected to sexist comments, it was no longer OK to be treated less important than your brothers. It was no longer OK to blame a woman for the sexual assault she experienced.

Distribution of degrading pictures of women among the predominantly male senior management staff was no longer perceived as “innocent fun”.  I am not saying that it did not happen…it did and for a long time! But it was perceived differently. The culture was changing.

Of course, some CEOs found it normal to celebrate the signing of a contract at clubs labelled as “adult entertainment”, but….it became a practice that was frowned upon.

Of course, we saw the mainly male senior management stuffing themselves with fine dining, lots of alcohol and enjoying the fine amenities of an overpriced hotel all under the label of a “work trip” away from their families.

Of course, some women (not my sisters) benefited from the corrupt male-dominated subculture, and in their own twisted way sabotaged the development of a more equal, safe and respectful workplace.

Assault of women of course, still happened; it has never stopped. Many women have been told directly or covertly to shut up…and they felt that they had no power and that no one would believe them…but there was this hope… that most of our peers and definitely the next generation would have it better as perspectives were changing.

We saw these changes even in countries where there is so much more that needs to be done for girls and women. We saw that women were protesting in Pakistan when the victim of gang rape was held responsible for the crimes committed against her.

And now…since 2016 and ongoing….a man voted in as the president of the US…. Is getting away with it and we see it happening…and it is tearing us apart on the inside. And again, so many of us feel powerless. Hearing Trump’s bystanders say that women like Amy Dorris are liars….

Thank you, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, RIP!

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