In a powerful and emotional speech Thursday in New Hampshire, Michelle Obama articulated what Donald Trump’s lewd comments meant to her as a woman.
The Washington Post released a 2005 video on Friday showing the Republican presidential nominee boasting about how he could do anything he wanted to women — without their consent. On Wednesday night, a number of women publicly accused Trump of sexual assault. The First Lady spoke out about the comments for the first time at a Hillary Clinton rally on Thursday.
“I can’t believe that a candidate for the president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women. I can’t stop thinking about this. It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn’t have predicted,” Obama said. “I feel it so personally. And I know that many of you do too, particularly the women.”
Obama said that many women likely feel the same way about Trump’s comments, which she called a reflection of the sexism and abuse women have historically faced.
“The truth is, it hurts. It’s like a sick, sinking feeling you get when you’re walking down the street, minding your own business, and some guy yells out vulgar words about your body. Or you see that guy at work who stands a little too close or stares a little too long and makes you feel uncomfortable in your skin. It’s that feeling of terror and violation that too many women have felt when someone has grabbed them or forced themselves on them, and they said ‘no,’ but he didn’t listen,” Obama said. “It reminds us of stories we’ve heard from our mothers and grandmothers about how back in their day, the boss could do or say whatever he pleased to women in the office. And even though they worked so hard, jumped over every hurdle to prove themselves, it was never enough. We thought all of that was ancient history, didn’t we?”
Obama told the crowd that Trump’s comments should hurt — because it’s not normal for a politician to speak this way about women.
“We’re doing all of the things that women have done: we’re trying to keep our heads above water to get through it. Trying to pretend like this doesn’t really bother us,” she said. “Maybe because admitting how much it hurts makes us as women look weak. Maybe we’re afraid to be that vulnerable. Maybe we’ve grown accustomed to swallowing these emotions and staying quiet because we’ve seen that people won’t take our word over his. Maybe we don’t want to believe that there are people out there who think so little of us as women.”
“I know it’s a campaign, but this isn’t about politics. It’s about basic human decency. It’s about right and wrong,” she said. “Now is the time for all of us to stand up and say, ‘Enough is enough.'”