This Election Is Triggering as Hell

[Content Note: Rape culture.]

Take him at his word. Interesting.

The image is a screenshot of a Politico tweet reading: "Huma Abedin: Hillary Clinton's external hard drive."

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Between Donald Trump and all his nasty surrogates and the cowardly Republican leadership, and all their victim-blaming and slut-shaming and rape apologia and indifference, and the relentless onslaught of misogyny against Hillary Clinton and any woman who supports her, this election is just triggering as hell.

[CN: Descriptions of sexual assault] This is a terrific piece by Laura Bassett on that very subject: "Donald Trump and His Supporters Are Actually Making Women Sick."
Like all female reporters, especially those who write about rape and abortion, I've had to develop a thick skin. I laugh it off when men I've never met call me "ugly," an "idiot," a "cunt" ― or, my favorite, "Bitch Bassett Hound" ― on Twitter. I've had to let it go when they threaten to publish my home address and pay me a visit, or send me an email with the subject line, "BIG ears... tiny brain!!!" after I appear on cable news. I've learned by necessity to separate my work from my feelings when I cover a politician speculating about what women's bodies do in response to a "legitimate rape," or when I interview women with horrifying stories of sexual abuse.

But listening to the Trump tape as I sat on that plane felt different. A nominee of a major political party was caught boasting about sexual assault in a graphic way, talking about women as objects and feeling entitled to their bodies. I knew that I'd be expected to contribute to The Huffington Post's coverage once my plane landed...

The nausea in my stomach crept up into my throat. My chest felt heavy and squeezed, like someone was sitting on it. My jaw and teeth ached, and I realized I'd been clenching them. By the time the flight attendant reached out with a bag of pretzels, I was breathing into a brown paper bag I'd found in the seat pocket. I walked to the bathroom of the plane and hovered over the toilet, hoping my body would purge what was making me sick.

For me, as for many women, Trump's comments were personal. They triggered memories of an assault that I thought I had processed and put behind me more than a decade ago.
This, too, is my experience.

Because of the exact nature of Trump's comments and reported assaults, there are memories coming back to me that I have not thought about in many years. The "lesser" assaults, committed by men who were strangers to me. Who groped or grabbed or frotted me on my El train commute in Chicago, which I did for many years.

The man who masturbated in the seat across from me then grabbed me when I tried to get off the train. The man who squeezed my breast. The man who used the motion of the train on a packed car to try to mask that he was humping my hip. The men who touched or pinched my ass. The man who slid his hand in between my legs as I stood in a thick crowd of commuters during a seatless rush hour, and, just as Donald Trump described, grabbed my pussy.

Already a survivor of rape at that time, commuting became a minefield of dread and anxiety. I started going into work early, and staying late, just to avoid crowded rush hour trains. My life revolved around trying to avoid being assaulted on public transportation.

If a train came that looked too packed, I would let it go by, standing on the platform, waiting and waiting for a car that looked like there were enough people, but not too many, as though there were some magic combination. There wasn't, but I had internalized the pervasive messaging that I was responsible for preventing sexual assaults on me.

Covering this election, with the insistent combination of rape apologia and dehumanization of women, has folded time in a way that the edges of the present now touch the edges of that past.

I feel that same daily anxiety.

But now, I don't hold myself accountable. I instead direct the completeness of my ire at Donald Trump and his enablers and all the men who do the things he describes and is alleged to have done. Which is healthier. But it still doesn't make me feel safe.

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