A recently unearthed clip of Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway saying that rape would never occur if only women were as strong as men has women’s rights groups fuming.
The Independent talked with several women’s rights leaders who issued scathing indictments of Conway’s assertion during a 2013 debate on PBS that if women “were physiologically as strong as men, rape would not exist” because “you would be able to defend yourself and fight him off.”
“Implying that assaults would not occur if women were stronger is not only wrong, but also reflects outdated attitudes blaming victims for their assaults,” says Human Rights Watch Senior Counsel Sara Darehshori.
Kristen Houser, the chief public affairs officer at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, notes that rape isn’t just about physical strength, but also about the power that abusive people have over others.
“The experience of attempted rape is as equally traumatising [as rape],” she tells the Independent. “It has to do with the way our body processes sensory information and the chemicals that our brain emits, so when we hear survivors say they can’t move their arms or they can’t find their voice to scream, that is a very real response.”
And Lee Paiva, president of sexual assault prevention organization No Means No Worldwide, explains that many women are just so terrified when someone sexually assaults them that fighting back just isn’t seen as an option.
“I was attacked when I was 15,” she says. “I didn’t yell, even though I was in a house of 10 [people]. There is this perception that if you fight back, you will make him angrier, and he will kill you.”