“It’s just words, folks,” Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump said last Sunday in response to the hot mic comments he made about women in 2005.

Before I go on, let me just remind you exactly what those “words” are.

“I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women]—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything … Grab them by the p—-. You can do anything.” Trump was recorded saying these comments in 2005 on a tour bus with “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush. He later dismissed them as “locker room talk.”

To be clear, those words are your Republican candidate running for the highest office in our country condoning and perpetuating sexual assault.

Here are some more “words” I heard this week. I sat in a 130 person lecture this Wednesday and listened to a male student say that Trump’s comments were nothing out of the ordinary.

“My group of friends talk like that, my dad’s group of friends talk like that, this is just what guys say.” I’m paraphrasing, but he went on to add that he didn’t think that comments like this should affect a political race.

“If that’s how you talk about women, you need to do some reevaluation,” I responded. I said that I was disgusted that it’s taken the Republican party this long to denounce the words of a reprobate bigot who has already offended nearly every different ethnic and racial minority in this country. I also said that of course it matters because our President represents every single American. I asked if that’s how everyone would like to be represented as an American.

Here’s what I didn’t say.

Every 109 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted in America, according to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. Ninety percent of those victims are female, and one out of every six women has been the victim of attempted or completed rape.

But those are just words.

Men can be the victims of sexual assault, too. One in 33 males has experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. College males aged 18-24 years are five times more likely to be a victim of rape or sexual assault.

Still just words, right? Studies show that sexual assault survivors are more likely to turn to drugs, cope with PTSD, or contemplate suicide.

I understand where it comes from, I really do. This comment came from a white adult male, arguably the least-oppressed demographic in this country. It doesn’t affect him. He’s not a woman who’s been sexually assaulted, catcalled, groped, or the recipient of unwanted sexual advances. I’ll bet he doesn’t deal with the shame, guilt or feeling of worthlessness associated with sexual assault.

But don’t tell me and the millions of sexual assault survivors that those are just words. I can’t speak for all of them, but I’m sure their attackers didn’t wait. Mine didn’t.

Don’t tell me that grabbing women by their genitals is just something men joke about. To those of you who don’t joke about it, I’m sorry that this “politician” has painted you all the same. To those of you who do, you are part of the problem. You are actively creating a climate where it is okay to sexualize and demean women, to use them for your own sexual deviancy. That is not okay.

I understand banter, I understand joking around, and if you feel the need to talk that way, go ahead. But hold your President of the United States–the one who executes national decisions, commands our military and who represents us around the globe–to a higher standard.

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Emma Gauthier
Emma is a senior journalism and English double major with a minor in political science from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. She has worked for the Cigar since her first semester at URI as a staff reporter, then web editor, news editor and finally Editor in Chief. Emma also edits for the URI research magazine, Momentum, and hopes to find a career in political reporting upon her graduation in May.