It was during NBC’s Commander-in-Chief Forum
In 2014, over 20,300 members of the U.S. military were sexually assaulted and 86 percent of these crimes went unreported. Although the number of male victims is larger than those who are female, men outnumber women in the military by a margin of seven to one. Many of these abuse victims fear that reporting the assault would jeopardize their careers or that the judicial process would be unfair. So last night on NBC’s Commander-In-Chief Forum a veteran brought this crisis to light in a question for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“Mr. Trump, I have a daughter who is interested in joining the service. But when she researched the military, she saw the stats on sexual assault and decided not to go. I have a concern about the rape of women on our armed forces. As president, what specifically would you do to support all victims of sexual assault in the military.”
Trump responded to the veteran by saying the U.S. has a “massive problem” and it should “set up a count system within the military” because the current system “practically doesn’t exist.” After Trump’s response, moderator Matt Lauer read a Tweet that Trump sent out in 2013.
“It is a correct tweet,” Trump said, doubling down on his sexist assumptions. There are many people that think that’s absolutely correct.” Lauer responded with: “So this should have been expected and the only way to fix it is to take women out of the military?” Then Trump essentially dodged the question and went on to blame the court system for not prosecuting perpetrators of sexual assault.
In his response, Trump doubled down on the incorrect and dangerous assumption that men are doomed to commit sexual assault when working in close proximity to women. His statement also implies that women who join the military do so with the expectation of being assaulted, and we should lower our standards of behavior for men in uniform. Men and women work closely together in most other professions without cultivating an environment that encourages sexual assault. So instead of doubling down on a sexist lie, Trump should have tried to get to the root of the problem by asking: Why is this sexual assault crisis happening in the U.S. military in the first place?