Donald Trump’s recorded statements about groping and kissing women without their consent drew a swift, condemnatory reaction from campus sexual prevention advocates and political groups on Sunday.
In the 2005 recording, which the Washington Post acquired and published on Friday, Trump said to Billy Bush, then of NBC’s Access Hollywood, “When you’re a star, they let you do it,” in reference to groping women and said he “grabbed them by the p**sy.”
Penn for Hillary posted a Facebook status that said, “Trump’s casual endorsement of sexual assault is horrifying beyond belief.”
The group added. “A president is supposed to be a role model for children, but rather than condemning rape culture, Trump actively perpetuates it.”
Trump told the Washington Post that the video was just “locker room banter.”
College junior Amanda Silberling, one of the leaders of the “We Are Watching” protest movement that previously plastered a suggestive email from off-campus organization OZ, said Trump’s words normalize rape culture.
“When someone participates in private conversations where they talk about groping women, they are normalizing the idea that women are sexual objects,” she said.
Abuse and Sexual Assault Prevention Chair and College senior Isabella Auchus added, “Trump’s comments demonstrate a blatant disregard for consent. He sends the message that wealth and status exempt him from treating women with the respect that everyone deserves and that he can ‘do anything’ he wants regardless of consent.”
A spokeswoman for the Division of the Vice Provost for University Life did not make either the Penn Women’s Center or the Penn Violence Prevention office available for comment for this article.
Trump’s comments and the conversation it sparked about sexual assault and rape culture align with a variety of local and national initiatives about the issue.
The White House has approached campus sexual assault prevention through the “It’s On Us” movement, which, according to the , “seeks to reframe the conversation surrounding sexual assault in a way that inspires everyone to see it as their responsibility to do something, big or small, to prevent it.”
The program even made a featuring Vice President Joe Biden and actor Adam DeVine, in which the two go undercover at a college party to share their message about sexual assault and ask everyone to “take the pledge.”
In response to the Trump video, Biden out: “The words are demeaning. Such behavior is an abuse of power. It’s not lewd. It’s sexual assault. –Joe”
The effort on campus to reduce campus sexual assault and rape culture can be seen by the variation of groups on campus that deal with these issues, including Vagina Monologues, Penn V-Day, PAVE, MARS and many others.
College senior Syra Ortiz-Blanes, who is the events chair of Penn V-Day and a co-founder of the We Are Watching campaign, said Trump’s history of misogyny is nothing new, but his reference to “locker room talk” is the embodiment of modern rape culture.
“If people cannot see why his words were dangerous, then they are either blind to his misogyny or share it — and in either case, they are complicit in rape culture,” she said.
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