This week, First Lady Michelle Obama gave a stirring speech in response to Republican nominee for president Donald Trump’s lewd comments about sexual assault. It was pretty epic.
Last week, a 2005 Access Hollywood tape was released by The Washington Post, where Trump claims that women will let you do anything you want to them if you’re a star, including grab them by the genitals. While campaigning for Clinton in New Hampshire, Mrs. Obama was visibly shaken while discussing Trump’s words.
Watch Michelle Obama’s speech below. The comments about Trump begin at 4:37.
Mrs. Obama resonated on a deep personal level with audiences, focusing on the “sinking feeling” and the powerlessness that women feel when faced with sexual assault. She talked about the derogatory comments Trump and men like him make to demean women’s bodies, their ambitions and intelligence. Obama emphasized that good men do not need to tear down women in order to feel good about themselves.
Mrs. Obama herself has certainly been on the receiving end of endless sexist and racist public commentary about her hair, face, body, and intelligence both during her husband’s campaign and during his tenure as President. People have challenged her patriotism and very womanhood under the guise of free speech and political criticism. Mrs. Obama is probably also aware of horrible and demeaning comments that have been made about her daughters during their lives in the public sphere.
The First Ladya’s speech shines a light on women’s experiences with sexual assault, but also emphasizes how sexual assault and demeaning comments about women hurt everyone. She asked how these words from a presidential candidate would affect men and boys around the country.
Finally, at least three women, as well as former contestants from the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants (which Trump owns), have come forward in the press to assert that Donald Trump has sexually assaulted, ogled, or abused them the way he describes in the Access Hollywood tape. A man who use his power and status to take advantage of women is a sad excuse for a leader, a sad example of privilege and power in this country and in the world.