Newly-released recordings of GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump seem to have finally broken the back of his political ambitions. But as we process the fallout in rescinded endorsements and campaign chaos, there’s a risk of forgetting that the predatory behavior Trump crowed about is rampant at all levels of society—and has lasting, devastating consequences for victims.
Following the Friday revelations, Canadian writer Kelly Oxford called on women to share stories of their own assaults on Twitter. Responses now number in the millions.
Many of the stories recount precisely the behavior that Trump bragged about being able to get away with thanks to his fame.
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The still-mounting responses can be tracked in Oxford’s response feed on Twitter, and under the hashtag #notokay. It’s a depressing scroll, painting a picture of rampant abuse of women and, especially, very young girls. One consistent theme is abuse of power by pastors, camp counsellors, doctors, supervisors, and teachers.
Donald Trump is, clearly, not the only man in America who believes his status makes it okay to “do anything.”
The episode highlights Twitter’s enduring importance as a medium, even as it has sometimes struggled as a business. The majority of incidents of groping, harassment, and child abuse never enter the justice system—even violent rapes are notoriously under-prosecuted. But collecting these stories in one place, in the victims’ own words, helps capture the extent and severity of the problem.
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Oxford herself illustrates another aspect of Twitter’s power. She was one of the platform’s most influential early users, with Time naming hers one of the best accounts on Twitter in both 2011 and 2012. That visibility helped her launch a career as a screenwriter and author, even though she was based far from the entertainment industry.
But her biggest accomplishment yet may be galvanizing a conversation around a rampant, toxic epidemic.