Have you seen Michelle Obama’s devastating speech about Donald Trump?
It was a speech so powerful that CNN’s Paul Begala declared it “will be one of the things people study 100 years from now.” Michelle Obama was visibly emotional as she stood on stage in New Hampshire last Thursday and reacted to the release of the shocking 2005 audio recording of Donald Trump boasting about kissing and groping women without their consent. “And I can’t believe that I’m saying that a candidate for President of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women. And I have to tell you that I can’t stop thinking about this. It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn’t have predicted,” the first lady revealed.
Obama was speaking on behalf of women all around the world who watched in horror as Trump and his defenders excused his behaviour as merely “locker room banter.” Obama expressed what it feels like to be a woman in a world where we are routinely reduced to being sexual objects existing only for the sexual gratification of men. “The shameful comments about our bodies. The disrespect of our ambitions and intellect. It is cruel. It’s frightening. And the truth is, it hurts. It hurts. It’s like that sick, sinking feeling you get when you’re walking down the street minding your own business and some guy yells out vulgar words about your body. Or when you see that guy at work that stands just a little too close, stares a little too long, and makes you feel uncomfortable in your own skin.” Obama described the “terror and violation that too many women have felt when someone has grabbed them, or forced himself on them and they’ve said no but he didn’t listen...” Trump’s predatory behaviour, she said, “reminds us of stories we heard from our mothers and grandmothers about how, back in their day, the boss could say and do whatever he pleased to the women in the office, and even though they worked so hard, jumped over every hurdle to prove themselves, it was never enough.” Obama went on to express the shock so many people are feeling. “We thought all of that was ancient history, didn’t we? And so many have worked for so many years to end this kind of violence and abuse and disrespect, but here we are in 2016 and we’re hearing these exact same things every day on the campaign trail. We are drowning in it.”
Obama’s speech highlights not only how far the United States has come in the fight for equality but how much the world stands to lose if Trump wins. She warned that we cannot allow this man’s behaviour to be minimised or accepted, nor can we judge the women who are bravely coming forward to share their stories of his sexual misconduct. “This is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful. It is intolerable. And it doesn’t matter what party you belong to – Democrat, Republican, independent – no woman deserves to be treated this way. None of us deserves this kind of abuse.”
Obama implored every American watching to “… remember, we won’t just be setting a bad example for our kids, but for our entire world. Because for so long, America has been a model for countries across the globe, pushing them to educate their girls, insisting that they give more rights to their women. But if we have a president who routinely degrades women, who brags about sexually assaulting women, then how can we maintain our moral authority in the world? How can we continue to be a beacon of freedom and justice and human dignity?” With the world watching as Trump’s politics of anger- the misogyny, racism, xenophobia, nativism and homophobia fracture the United States, Obama called for Americans to act. “…We have everything we need to stop this madness. You see, while our mothers and grandmothers were often powerless to change their circumstances, today, we as women have all the power we need to determine the outcome of this election.” “We have knowledge. We have a voice. We have a vote. And on November the 8th, we as women, we as Americans, we as decent human beings can come together and declare that enough is enough, and we do not tolerate this kind of behaviour in this country.”