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Trump inadvertently gets Twitter to explain why rape often goes unreported

The U.S. president’s attacks on Christine Blasey Ford prompted Twitter to explain #WhyIDidntReport

Trump inadvertently gets Twitter to explain why rape often goes unreported
[Animation: Fickr user Gage Skidmore; Kamazine/Pixabay]

No sooner did some anonymous White House aides brag to Axios about preventing Trump from attacking Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser on Twitter than the president did exactly that.

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Earlier this week, Trump had been uncharacteristically neutral about Christine Blasey Ford, the psychology professor who came forward last week with allegations that the SCOTUS nominee sexually assaulted her in the summer of 1982. The dam first cracked during one of the president’s completely normal and necessary Two Minutes Hate-style rallies on Thursday night. That’s where Trump, referring to Ford’s request that the FBI investigate her claim, asked the “lock-her-up” chanting crowd why someone didn’t call the FBI 36 years ago. Then came the Friday morning tweet-geyser.

There were other tweets (there always are) and they were all over the place (as ever.) Here’s the gist: Brett Kavanagh is a fine man, he couldn’t have done this! But even if he did, how come the police never heard about it? And why are we only hearing about it now?

If Trump actually had any genuine curiosity about why 70% of rapes go unreported, he could have easily found out. There’s a wealth of documented information available, and every man would benefit from brushing up on it. But the question was rhetorical. The last thing Trump wanted, who famously has been accused of sexual assault by 14 women and suffered zero consequences, was an answer. Most likely, he was just sick of not going on the offense and felt the need to publicly scrutinize Ford’s accusation, thereby getting millions of followers to parrot his line of questioning in the process. It’s a typically insidious attack for Trump.

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And it may have backfired.

As little as Trump cared about getting an answer to his question, the women of Twitter were more than happy to comply. Within hours of Trump’s tweets, the top trending topic was #WhyIDidntReport. Much like last year’s initial #MeToo outpouring, thousands of women took to Twitter to tell their stories, reliving deep personal trauma in the service of making a collective point.

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It’s amazing what you can learn when you actually want to learn something!

Some men even chimed in to explain why they hadn’t reported their sexual assaults.

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I suppose we should thank Donald Trump for inadvertently triggering a very important conversation about an aspect of sexual assault that hasn’t received its proper due, even in the year of #MeToo. Unfortunately, the people who need to hear these stories the most are the ones most invested in maintaining the status quo.

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