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First Lady Michelle Obama’s Speech Today is a Validating Tearjerker For Everyone Who’s Been Hating Political News Lately

Today, Michelle Obama’s name is trending on Twitter, and her voice and her quotes have been filling my social media timelines–and thank goodness for that, because it’s been a truly dismal week of U.S. election-related news. The reason the First Lady of the United States has begun trending all over the internet is due to a refreshing, validating speech she gave today, in which she speaks out against Donald Trump’s treatment of women. She doesn’t sugar-coat her criticism or downplay the horror of what he has said and what women have accused him of doing. That alone is validating to hear today, given how much downplaying we’ve seen of Trump’s comments and actions all week long.

When I wrote about the “Trump Tapes” scandal over the weekend, I pointed out that women have made sexual assault and rape allegations against Donald Trump in years past. More allegations have surfaced this week, after a recording of Trump making horrific comments about assaulting women emerged. I’ve seen many people saying that these women should have come forward earlier; I’ve also seen people suggesting that these women are lying and that the allegations seem too “convenient” to be real. This is ridiculous, because as I said, women and girls have made allegations against Trump in the past.

Seeing all of this, as well as people attempting to derail the conversation by bringing up other examples of politicians who have committed sexual assault in the past (by the way, that list is long), has made me feel horrible. This election news cycle was already a nightmare anyway, but it’s even worse to hear people downplaying Trump’s actions and comments by saying that it’s “normal” for men, particularly men with a lot of power, to talk and act like this. It shouldn’t be considered “normal” on any level.

By derailing the conversation to bring up other scandals, instead of addressing the actual “Trump Tapes” comments, Trump’s defenders make it clear that they have no real argument. There is no defense for this, other than to say it’s “normal” (it isn’t) or try to claim that other male politicians have done the same or worse. Even if they have, that doesn’t pardon anything that Trump has done, and mostly just serves as yet another attempt to normalize and downplay his behavior as something that “every man” would do. I would invite men to seriously question that generalization.

When public figures behave inappropriately, or go so far as to commit illegal acts, we have to hold them accountable–even if they are well-liked. Many public figures, including Democratic politicians like Bill Clinton and Anthony Weiner, have had to answer to the public for their inappropriate private actions. In Trump’s case, the list of allegations is much, much longer and includes many extremely egregious allegations (such as Trump’s alleged rape of a 13-year-old girl). Even now, his supporters continue to defend him.

As Michelle Obama says in her speech, this isn’t acceptable behavior from anyone. This is not “locker room talk,” and it shouldn’t be considered “normal” for anyone to talk this way, or treat women and girls in this way, no matter who they are. We have to speak out against this behavior in any form, even if that is risky or makes us unpopular, and even if that means speaking out against someone who is popular or rich or powerful. We have to demand better, both from our friends and peers, and from powerful public figures. That’s the only way we can change our culture.

(via Twitter, image via YouTube screencap)

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