The lengths to which Donald Trump supporters will go to excuse the overwhelming evidence that he is a sexual predator is simply appalling. Last night, Trump spokeswoman AJ Delgado dismissed every claim as “not credible” and blamed the victims for not coming forward sooner; notorious liar Katrina Pierson attempted to say that Jessica Leeds’ story wasn’t credible because “armrests were fixed back then” (referring to Leeds’ claim that Trump lifted the armrest and began groping her). Radio host Rush Limbaugh, however, exposed the crux of the right-wing’s refusal to accept the Trump allegations – because they reject the notion of consent at all.
Limbaugh went on his radio show to say that the real problem is “leftists” complaining about consent in the first place:
“The left will promote and understand and tolerate anything, as long as there is one element. Do you know what it is? Consent. If there is consent on both or all three or all four, however many are involved in the sex act, it’s perfectly fine. But if the left ever senses and smells that there’s no consent in part of the equation then here come the rape police.”
In his mind, consent itself is the problem. The fact that “the left” asks for the agreement of both parties to engage in a sexual act is the reason for all this controversy, implying that this is somehow a new development that the “left” is forcing down the throats of red-blooded Americans.
Furthermore, Mr. Limbaugh, it’s not some kind of “leftist rape police” that you are clearly attempting to create a link from social concerns over your nominee’s sexual assaults to the imaginary “President Obama’s Secret Muslim Department Of Emasculated Liberals Coming To Take Your Freedoms And Guns Department” that your radio show created and blames for a host of different imaginary threats to American sovereignty. It’s the regular police – because according to chapter 47 of U.S. Code 10, sexual acts without the consent of both parties is a crime.
In the past, Limbaugh has complained that consent “takes all the romance out of everything…How many of you guys in your own experience with women have learned that ‘no’ means ‘yes,’ if you know how to spot it? It used to be used as a cliché” he said in 2014.
His words are laughing in the face of the 17.7 million American women who have been sexually assaulted since 1998, mocking the pain and the trauma that they have endured at the hands of predatory men like Donald Trump.
The right-wing’s constant excusing of rape and sexual assault is evidence in and of itself of how rape culture thrives in the United States. Limbaugh’s words are an ideological rejection of the very concept of consent and is one more prong of the conservative rejection of the very idea that women have agency over their own bodies on any level, whether it’s control over their uterus or who they engage with sexually. It’s a denial of the basic humanity of American women and Donald Trump is the living manifestation of that denial.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.