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Man Arrested for Groping a Woman on an Airplane, Because the President Said That It’s Okay to Grab Women

trump women assault

**Content Warning: sexual assault, Donald Trump**

On a recent flight from Houston to Albuquerque, a woman awoke to find a stranger’s hand on her. She says she woke up shortly after takeoff and “felt her clothes move” and fingers touching her around her bra line. She was in a window seat, and the fingers–”thick fingers … hairy and dirty finger nails”–were coming from the seat behind her. She says she thought the touching was an accident, but then it happened again about 30 minutes later. She says she “felt fingers slowly grab the back of her arm, squeezing above the elbow,” and then, more “persistently,” “slowly,” and “attentively,” the man groped her ribs and her breast around her bra line.

When that happened, the woman, listed in the complaint as C.W., stood up and told him “she didn’t know why he thought it was ok [to touch her] and he needed to stop.” While the man, Bruce Alexander, initially denied groping her, he did eventually explain why he thought it was okay: Because the President said so.

That was his actual defense. Sitting in a police car after landing, handcuffed, he asked what the sentence was for the crime he was being charged with, and, according to official court documents, he told the officers that Donald Trump said it was okay to grab women by their “private parts.” And he’s not wrong.

Technically, in the now-famous Access Hollywood tape, Trump said “famous” men are allowed to grope women–to “grab them by the pussy.” But really, Trump’s views of women’s bodies extend to most men, especially white men. Not even 53% of white women voters found those comments distasteful enough not to want Trump in office. Because what he was promising was power, and freedom from consequences for exerting that power. That can be sexual, as it often has been with Trump, according to not just the women who have accused him of harassment and assualt, but his own words as well. But ultimately, it is about power.

Most politicians, even white male Republicans, don’t (or didn’t) come right out and say these things as directly as Trump. And most people don’t come right out and say them like Bruce Alexander. Usually, people don’t say the awful quiet part out loud like this. But Trump promised men like him that they could do this, and it’s no wonder they’re trying to collect.

After all, Trump hasn’t brought their jobs back or built that wall he promised. It’s almost like the man who based his entire campaign on lies and bigotry and othering the disenfranchised doesn’t care about regular white dudes either. Shocking, I know. It must be really disappointing to men like Bruce Alexander to learn that they still have to treat women like autonomous human beings, despite their president tacitly promising them otherwise.

The number of in-flight assaults is distressingly high and according to the FBI, has been increasing “at an alarming rate” over the last few years. Nearly 1 in 5 flight attendants say they’ve received a report of in-flight assault between passengers, though only about half of those made their way to law enforcement. Many victims of in-flight assault don’t even report it to a flight attendant or speak out against their assailant.

The confined and unfamiliar space can instill a huge amount of fear in a person, and freezing up entirely is not an uncommon response. That’s what Jessica Leeds described when she finally spoke out against Donald Trump, whom she says sexually assaulted her on a flight more than 30 years ago.

It’s incredibly impressive that C.W., the woman on this flight, confronted her alleged assailant, insisted on switching seats mid-flight, and had him arrested. It’s what we all like to think we would do in that situation, but these things aren’t always easy to do in the moment. This woman is an actual hero.

(via Washington Post, image: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.