The rhetoric surrounding allegations of sexual assault in the presidential campaign is revealing with regard to just how much work we have ahead when it comes to making potential perpetrators know how unacceptable it is, and how far we have to go so that victims know that it is safe for them to come forward. I truly worry about the impact of the messages being sent right now by persons in positions of responsibility who publicly excuse allegations of sexual assault, and who personally attack those who come forward. That is not simply irresponsible; it is disgraceful. People who are in positions of responsibility need to know that their rhetoric on this matter has real world consequences.
The conversation regarding sexual assault that we’re seeing play out in our national politics isn't creating a new problem, though I think it’s exacerbating the existing one; but it has served to further reveal the depth of the problem and the way we have failed at a cultural level.
This is a moment that we should not miss. This is a moment where we need people from diverse backgrounds – ideological, age, income, profession, and everything else – to speak up and speak out against sexual assault, the type of rhetoric that trivializes it, and the type of rhetoric which makes victims reluctant to come forward, and we need to rebuke it.
The way in which we address sexual assault goes to the core of who we’re going to be as a society. And we need to be doing a much better job.