The Blog

Grabbing P*ssy: GOP, Why the Outrage?

Here's the thing: I'm shocked that everyone is so shocked. Let's face it: Only very recently has the idea of men grabbing women's genitalia, or any other part of a female body, on the street, in the subway, or on a date, unbidden, been seen as sexual assault.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Trump's misogynist behavior, which by now we should fully expect, has released another fecal storm and everyone is offended. A New York Times headline read: "Tape Reveals Trump Boast About Groping Women---GOP Leaders Recoil in Shock." Cleaning up the language of the video in question, the Times reported that "Mr. Trump, then newly married to his third wife, Melania, crassly boasted about groping women's genitalia, vulgarly commented on their bodies and generally described women as sex objects who could not resist his advances."

Among the shocked and offended were Trump's vice presidential running mate Mike Pence, who said: "As a husband and father, I was offended by the words and actions described by Donald Trump in the eleven-year-old video released yesterday." Paul Ryan was offended, actually "sickened" by Trump's comments. Many other Republicans joined the chorus.

But here's the thing: I'm shocked that everyone is so shocked. Let's face it: Only very recently has the idea of men grabbing women's genitalia, or any other part of a female body, on the street, in the subway, or on a date, unbidden, been seen as sexual assault. For years, those unbidden grabs were friskily referred to by men as "copping a feel" and would never, ever have landed any guy in front of a judge, much less in jail. "Lighten up," was our directive.

Once in Greenwich Village a young guy in sweatpants who had been coming towards me suddenly grabbed my vagina; I ran after him for blocks, yelling and screaming, until, exasperated and humiliated, I lost him in the crowd. On another occasion, I was momentarily paralyzed, stopped in my tracks, as I watched a tall, slender, Brooks Brothers' guy walk off merrily swinging his briefcase after grabbing my ass as I ascended the subway stairs at West 57th Street in front of him.

Thankfully, things are changing; this behavior is being recognized for what it is--a crime. What surprises me is that Republican Party leaders like Pence and Ryan, so self-righteously appalled by this image of Trump feeling empowered to grab a woman in her most private part, do this in legislatures every day.

They effectively advocate forced childbirth by impeding women's access to birth control, morning-after pills, and safe, legal abortion. They comprise the health and lives of young low- income women by banning funding to Planned Parenthood and laboring to close down clinics, depriving these young women of all reproductive health and preventive cancer care. They vote against equal pay for equal work, paid maternity leave and paid sick leave.

While they criticize Trump for his sense of entitlement to the bodies of women, they have the same sense of entitlement. They refuse to respect women's moral authority, spiritual beliefs or choices--to work or not work, to combine motherhood and career, to choose or reject motherhood, to carry a pregnancy to term, or not. They may not grab "pussy" the way Trump says he can, but make no mistake: they grab it, without apology. That, too, is criminal. When will lawmakers taking these liberties with women's bodies shock us, too?