Overdoing the Sexual Assault Thing

Donald Trump’s open-mic remarks regarding groping women and getting away with it says volumes about the man who would be President.  While the actions of Bill Clinton and, for that matter, John F. Kennedy, Franklin Roosevelt and Ted Kennedy are certainly as bad as the words of Trump caught on audio, it in no way excuses Trump and his apparent attitude towards women and his own arrogance that comes with wealth, power, fame and celebrity.  It may just be “locker room talk” or machismo banter, but it is no less offensive.

But something strange is happening that serves to detract from the damage done to Trump in light of the revelations on that tape.  There is one episode of an old Bugs Bunny cartoon where a pack of dogs is chasing the wily Bugs.  Thinking they have caught their prey, they attack and jump on what they think is the rabbit only to realize that Bugs is on top of the pile chanting “Dog pile on the rabbit!  Dog pile on the rabbit!”

We have now reached that “dog pile on the rabbit” moment with this most recent controversy engulfing the Trump campaign.  Anderson Cooper asked Trump three times whether he ever engaged in “groping” behavior during the second debate before Trump answered, “no…”  Since then at several women have come forward and made claims that Trump did, in fact, “grope” them.

The first involves a woman who alleges that Trump grabbed her butt at a party at his Mar-a-Lago Florida resort.  The photographer friend she was with remembers the incident because the woman told him it happened; the friend never actually saw it.  Her reason for attending the party was that Ray Charles was scheduled to perform.  Her reason for not reporting it until now?  I guess seeing Ray Charles took priority over her dignity.

The second involves a receptionist at a developer who rented space in Trump Tower where he allegedly kissed her out of the blue.  This too was never reported…until now.  There is the case of woman reporter being given the tour of Trump’s Florida resort only to be groped in a room.  This was a reporter sent to interview Trump and his wife Melania on their first anniversary.  One supposes completion of the interview was more important than what allegedly transpired in that room Trump was anxious to show the reporter.  The final incident involves a woman on an airplane who was groped on the breasts and thighs by Trump.  Instead of reporting the inappropriate behavior to someone on the plane, she moved to another seat.

This writer assumes and predicts there will be more accusations like this as the week unfolds.  Of course, it all boils down to a “he said, she said” scenario.  No one else at a party saw Trump grab the woman’s butt.  No one else on that airplane has come forward and said they witnessed the alleged groping behavior.  Given the revelations on the open-mic tape and using that as an insight into Trump, the needle swings ever so slightly in favor of these new allegations.  He will deny it, threaten lawsuits and we will move on.

But, this has shed a new light on the subject of sexual assault.  His recorded comments- unwanted kisses and grabbing a woman’s private parts- are a form of sexual assault, the latter being a more flagrant example.  But to illustrate how this conversation has grown, take the case of Minnie Driver, the actress currently starring in the ABC series Speechless.  The news tabloids are reporting her “coming out” about the time she was the victim of “sexual assault” when she was 17.

According to Driver, while in Greece, a man placed his hand on her elbow and insisted they should dance together.  She says: “I said, ‘No,’ and I pulled my arm away from him, and he grabbed me by the back of my hair. I tried to kick him, and then he punched me.”  Grabbing by the back of the hair and being punched clearly constitutes assault, but this was not sexual assault.  Likewise, the alleged incident involving actress Amber Tamblyn where she was carried out of a club by an ex-boyfriend against her will may be an example of assault, but not sexual assault because he had one hand on her legs.  If he carried her out over his shoulders, would the fact her butt would be in his face constitute a “sexual assault?”

In the process, these non-examples are detracting from true instances of sexual assault.  To hear Hollywood and the media talk, ordering a woman a drink sitting across the bar is now a sexual assault.  It is dog piling on the rabbit and just like Bugs Bunny, many times there is no rabbit at the bottom of the pile.  And more Hollywood actresses will likely come forward with their tales of pseudo-sexual assault.

Trump’s words vividly speak volumes for themselves.  With more dogs piling on, eventually the stories will fall on deaf ears.  In the end, the biggest losers will be the real victims of true sexual assault.