The 6 most cringe-worthy defenses of Trump’s “grab them by the pussy” comment

Republican nominee Donald Trump pretty much broke the internet Friday when The Washington Post leaked a 2005 hot-mic tape of him boasting to NBC’s Billy Bush that “when you’re rich,” you “can do anything to women,” including grab them “by the pussy,” whether or not they’ve consented to this. In Trump’s eyes, when you’re a rich white man, you’re, just entitled to women’s bodies. The tape was obviously disgusting and speaks to Trump’s misogyny (as if there weren’t plenty of evidence prior to this), but frankly, dismissal and defense of Trump’s pussy comments speak to society’s misogyny (or, at least, Trump supporters’ misogyny) and the normalization of rape culture.

One common defense — almost as common as the whole “it was just locker room banter!” bullshit — is that the tape was from 2005. Statute of limitations! Just let it go, right? Obviously, no one would love to move on from this whole unsettling debacle more than women, but frankly, the real problem is that Trump has yet to acknowledge that what he not only described, but also gloated about in the tape constitutes sexual assault, nor has he condemned sexual assault. A major presidential candidate literally doesn’t seem to know what sexual assault is (although, from Todd Akin to Jeff Sessions, he’s hardly alone on this in his party).

This isn’t something we can just dismiss and move on from no matter how much we may want to. But that hasn’t stopped a handful of Trump supporters from trying.

Donald Trump: “This was locker room talk.”

Obviously, among the worst defenses of Trump’s comments is the one from Trump himself. Anderson Cooper confronted Trump about the tape at the second debate, pointing out how Trump was boasting about sexual assault. Trump responded by denying this, proving he has literally no idea what sexual assault (as defined by the Justice Department) is, and that discussing sexual assault is just “locker room talk” and no big deal to him.

“I don’t think you understood what was — this was locker room talk. I’m not proud of it. I apologize to my family. I apologize to the American people,” Trump said, before pivoting to ISIS. “You know, when we have a world where you have ISIS chopping off heads, where you have — and, frankly, drowning people in steel cages, where you have wars and horrible, horrible sights all over, where you have so many bad things happening, this is like medieval times.” Because everything is relative and the fact that ISIS is destroying the world somehow makes boasting about sexual assault A-OK.

Eric Trump: “That’s what happens when alpha personalities are in the same presence.”

“I think it’s locker room banter … I think sometimes when guys are together they get carried away, and sometimes that’s what happens when alpha personalities are in the same presence. At the same time, I’m not saying it’s right,” the younger Trump told The Colorado Springs Gazette.

The Trump son managed to take the rape-y nature of his father’s defense to the next level, essentially writing off condoning and boasting about sexual assault merely as an everyday expression of traditional masculinity.

Ben Carson: The problem is that we don’t hear this enough.

Last we heard of the failed presidential candidate, Ben Carson had lost his luggage. Now, it appears he’s quite literally lost his mind. Tuesday afternoon on CNN, when asked by Brianna Keilar if he’d ever heard language like Trump’s in the 2005 tape, an exasperated Carson shouted, “Of course! Of course!” Keilar, in turn, claimed she had “never heard it,” and added, “I know a lot of people who haven’t heard it.” To this, Carson, visibly irritated, responds, “Well, maybe that’s the problem. Maybe that’s the problem.”

Basically, according to Carson, of course this shit is the normal, everyday bread and butter of conversations between males, but that’s not good enough. Nothing will be good enough until we’re all hearing language like Trump’s on the daily, and in fact, Trump’s comments aren’t the problem: our insulation and small-mindedness is. The solution here is to just make rape culture even more pervasive and subject all women to it until we all finally understand that Trump’s language is totally the norm and this somehow makes it fine. Sure sounds like family values to me.

Rudy Giuliani: “There was semen on her dress!”

“Men say stupid things in locker rooms,” Giuliani predictably told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on Sunday night. (Literally like, a dozen pro-athletes are refuting this, but what would they know about what men talk about in locker rooms?) Even more predictably, Giuliani, like Trump, managed to steer all of this back to Bill fucking Clinton: “There was semen on [Lewinsky’s] dress, which proved he lied to America. Just like her husband, [Hillary] is getting away with lying to America!”

OK, a couple things. 1) The incident he described was a consensual extramarital affair, which, while obviously shitty, is a far cry from boasting about how being rich enables you to get away with sexually assaulting women.

2) There do exist multiple allegations of sexual abuse against Bill, some more dubious than others, that obviously do deserve consideration. But how does this change the fact that Trump literally boasted about assaulting women?

Jeff Sessions: “I don’t characterize [grabbing women’s genitals] as sexual assault. I think that’s a stretch.”

“I don’t characterize that as sexual assault,” Sessions, a Republican senator from Alabama, told The Weekly Standard after Sunday night’s presidential debate. “I think that’s a stretch. I don’t know what he meant.”

The reporter pressed him: “So if you grab a woman by the genitals, that’s not sexual assault?”

Sessions responded: “I don’t know. It’s not clear that he — how that would occur.”

As the internet collectively tried to teach Robin Thicke back in 2013, when it comes to sexual assault, there are no blurred lines: either there’s consent or there isn’t. Seemingly taking a page directly out of Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” book, Session’s view might seem radically rare, but it simply reinforces the idea of many that different forms of assault and sex abuse don’t deserve to be recognized as “legitimate.”

Paul Ryan: I’ll still endorse him.

The speaker of the House very bravely announced Monday that he would no longer campaign for or “defend” Trump, but by not withdrawing his endorsement, isn’t that exactly what he’s doing? Ryan has yet to formally release a statement about his decision, but his endorsement of Trump is among the most cringe-worthy defenses of Trump’s comments. Ryan is literally saying he’s fine with a man who cannot define sexual assault, let alone identify it, leading the nation. Whether or not he outright, verbally defends Trump, his actions speak louder than his words.