There's nobody that Donald Trump has more respect for than women.
He said that a week ago, in an interview published two days before video was released from a 2005 "Access Hollywood" taping showing him say he "grabs women by the pussy" because he's famous, so he can.
Trump keeps insisting he has respect for women. But his actions and words say otherwise.
The past couple decades of his life have been well documented, from Howard Stern interviews to various television appearances. They show a long pattern of misogyny and a feeling of entitlement towards women and their bodies.
At the second presidential debate in St. Louis on Sunday night, moderator Anderson Cooper asked Trump specifically if what he said in the "Access Hollywood" video was just words.
Cooper asked him the question several times, making him answer directly.
Just for the record, though, are you saying that what you said on that bus 11 years ago that you did not actually kiss women without consent or grope women without consent?
Trump finally replied,
I will tell you: No, I have not.
It was Trump's own words that night that spurred several women to come forward.
Five women said that Trump had groped or kissed them without their consent in reports all released Wednesday night, like a waterfall of accusations.
Jessica Leeds told the New York Times his declaration at the debate infuriated her. She said Trump groped her during a flight.
Rachel Crooks also came forward in the Times article, saying Trump kissed her at the Trump Tower in Manhattan.
Mindy McGillivray told the Palm Beach Post Trump groped her at Mar-a-Lago in Florida. She also came forward because his words at the debate infuriated her.
Former People magazine reporter Natasha Stoynoff was also frustrated by Trump's debate declaration. She wrote a piece saying that Trump had grabbed and kissed her without her consent while she was reporting a story on his marriage to Melania.
Cassandra Searles, Miss Washington 2013, wrote on Facebook that Trump groped her as well.
In light of the "Access Hollywood" footage and growing accusations, Trump and his campaign team have been on a defensive attack.
On Friday night, after the video came out, Trump released a video statement. In the video, he said,
This is nothing more than a distraction from the important issues we are facing today.
Then, before the debate on Sunday night, Trump held a brief press conference with three women who accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault and harassment and one woman who says she was raped by a man Hillary represented in her work as a public defender.
These women deserve to be heard. But if we're following Trump's own words, they're nothing more than a distraction.
Based on how Trump is reacting to allegations against him, it's clear he's using these women as political props.
The women are happy to have their stories heard and, supposedly, believed by the Trump camp.
But what he says about them versus what he says about the women accusing him of assault shows that while he's happy to believe women who make his rival look bad, he won't listen to anyone else.
Two things must be noted: First, Bill Clinton is not running for president. Second, one man's alleged wrongs doesn't make another man's alleged wrongs right.
Before Trump was running against Clinton, he was not quite so kind to Clinton's accusers.
It's convenient for him to believe them now.
But in 1998, Trump said,
I don't necessarily agree with [Bill Clinton's] victims, his victims are terrible. He is really a victim himself. But he put himself in that position.
He called Paula Jones a "loser." He called the group of accusers "unattractive."
1998 too far away for you? Fine, in 2008, Trump said the Monica Lewinsky scandal is "totally unimportant" and that Clinton's impeachment was "nonsense."
Trump keeps bringing up that the "Access Hollywood" tape is from years ago.
In his initial written statement, he said it was "many years ago." In the video statement, he said it was a "more than a decade-old video."
Members of his campaign have also been bringing up this defense, as if to say it's old news we shouldn't be paying attention to.
On Wednesday night, his campaign released a statement saying,
To reach back decades in an attempt to smear Mr. Trump trivializes sexual assault, and it sets a new low for where the media is willing to go in its efforts to determine this election.
To reiterate, Trump is bringing up allegations against Clinton's spouse from decades ago.
Trump is now threatening legal action against the newspapers that published the newest allegations -- and possibly the women themselves.
On Thursday morning, Trump tweeted:
Stoynoff wrote in the People piece,
I was afraid that a famous, powerful, wealthy man could and would discredit and destroy me, especially if I got his coveted PEOPLE feature killed.
Why didn't she mention the "incident" in her story? Because she was afraid of exactly this kind of retaliation.
Trump and his team are building a case against the women, saying they are lying and should not be trusted.
They are building a conspiracy theory that these women are lying and only coming forward now as part of the "media's" plan to get Clinton elected.
But just a few days ago, he and the team were insisting that Bill Clinton's accusers had to be trusted.
The Trump campaign is also questioning why these women are only coming forward now.
First of all, there are hundreds of reasons why women do not immediately come forward after an assault.
Second of all, the Bill Clinton accusers Trump is using also did not immediately come forward. Juanita Broaddrick never reported the alleged rape. She only came forward when the Paula Jones case urged her to in 1997 -- two decades after when she says Bill raped her.
But for some reason, Trump thinks it's perfectly reasonable for Broaddrick to take her time before coming forward, but a conspiracy that his accusers took their time coming forward.
Ultimately, it's the women who are suffering here.
The women accusing both Bill Clinton and Trump of assault and harassment are being both believed and rejected based on political convenience, on all sides.
It's a really ugly scene. Sexual assault and rape culture are serious issues that harm women (and men). These stories need to be heard and believed. It took a lot of courage for all of these women to come forward.
But using the alleged victims as political fodder, to quote the Trump campaign, trivializes sexual assault. And Trump's accusers have had enough of his hypocrisy.
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