During a rally in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Donald Trump was railing about the United States’ trade deficit with China, when he said this: “We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country, and that’s what they’re doing.”
[Content Note: Discussion of sexual violence.]
Trump’s comments that a trade deficit is akin to rape fits squarely in with a terrible habit that many men have of comparing what they perceive to be economic injustice to sexual violence. Trade deficits? China’s raping us. Having to pay federal taxes? The federal government is raping us. ATM fees? The banks are raping us.
These things are not rape. And it is a particular cruelty that a presidential candidate who traffics in unapologetic sexism would appropriate rape to use as his own metaphor, on the campaign trail where he has also bragged about having been endorsed by convicted rapist Mike Tyson.
He doesn’t actually care about the harm done to women, who are disproportionately victimized by sexual violence. Indeed, he is so divorced from the potential of being a victim himself that the closest thing he can imagine to being raped is being financially taken advantage of.
When pressed by CNN’s Chris Cuomo about his use of this offensive language, Trump did not back away, but instead defended it, saying: “Frankly, as far as China’s concerned, everyone knows that’s true, and it gets the point across.” Watch:
Mr. Trump, I am a US citizen whose economic fate is tied to the national economy, including trade deficits, and I am a survivor of rape. And they are nothing alike.
A trade deficit has never smashed my face against a stone fireplace, where a piece of my tooth was left behind. A trade deficit has never held me down while I felt tears slip out of the corners of my eyes, and concentrated on the sensation of those cool tear trails, to focus on anything but the pain of being torn apart and the indignity, the humiliation, the stupid and inexplicable embarrassment about what was happening to me.
A trade deficit has never left me struggling and resisting and succumbing and blaming myself for not having escaped such an unfathomable fate; has never forced me to desperately try to stay inside my own head as my consciousness tries to flee from the horror of what’s being done to me; has never made me aware of something severing and disassociating between my mind and my body, unable to stop the creeping feeling like that intangible thing that makes you a person is being irreparably broken.
A trade deficit has never left me in a pool of my own blood, thinking that death would be a relief from the pain and the shame and utter, wretched brokenness of self I feel.
A trade deficit has never forced me to live my life putting one foot in front of the other without any idea how I’m going to build myself back into a whole person.
Trump’s word would be inappropriate even if it weren’t coming out of the mouth of a man who demeans women and celebrates rapists. But the fact that he, in particular, used this word in this way, claimed it for his own so casually, fills me with rage and horror.
He loves to talk about the “woman card.” Well, here’s another woman card in the hand I was dealt, like many other women.
Mr. Trump, leave that word out of your mouth forever, unless it is preceded by the words: “I apologize for using the word.”
[This post has been updated to include the embedded video.]
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)