People on Twitter Are Furious over Trump's Response to Woman Accusing Him of Sexual Assault

October 13th 2016

Tricia Tongco

Following a 2005 leaked audio tape of presidential candidate Donald Trump bragging about groping and kissing women, at least four more women have come forward with accounts of him inappropriately touching them.

On Thursday afternoon, the Republican presidential nominee's response to one particular allegation by a People Magazine writer has infuriated people even further.

On Wednesday, People published a first-person story by one of their reporters, Natasha Stoynoff, who claims Trump tried to forcibly kiss her while she was visiting his Mar-a-Lago estate for a story on him and Melania in 2005. She alleges that once Trump was alone in a room with her, "within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat."

During a speech on Thursday, regarding Stoynoff's account, Trump said, “Look at her. Look at her words. You tell me what you think. I don't think so.” After people accused him of implying Stoynoff was not attractive enough to be sexually assaulted, the Trump campaign told Vox that the candidate was only asking people to look at Stoynoff’s words, referring back to his quote.

However, people on Twitter are not buying his explanation.

In fact, people have interpreted his words as buying into a dangerous myth about rape and sexual assault — that only conventionally attractive women are attacked.

In an article about the common conflation of rape and sexual assault with conventional attractiveness, journalist Julie Bindel wrote for The Guardian:

"Rape is a sadistic act of punishment. We are raped by men who hate us, not by those who desire us so much they have no self- control. They do it to control us and then they tell us we are mad for imagining it happened because we are not good enough for them to violate, abuse and colonise."

Research has shown that children, elderly women, the mentally and physically disabled, and everyone in between are victims of rape.

— According to the Crimes Against Children Research Center, "1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse."

— A report by the Boston College Connell School of Nursing found evidence that "adults aged 60 and older may be victims of sexual abuse in their own homes, in nursing homes, and
in the community and implies that age is no protection against sexual victimization."

— According to research cited by the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault programs, "80% of women and 30% of men with intellectual disabilities have been sexually assaulted."

As Bindel points out, this rape myth is tied to other ones, such as the belief that men rape because they are overcome with uncontrollable lust. In truth, the majority of rapes are planned, according to West Virginia University. It also feeds into the false belief that women are ultimately to blame for their sexual assault because of how they look or how they are dressed. In reality, criminologists assert that rapists target their victims based on perceived vulnerability.

"The rapist is going to go after somebody who's not paying attention, who looks like they're not going to put up a fight, who's in a location that's going to make this more convenient," says Tod Burke, a criminologist at Radford University in Virginia, told Psychology Today.