This column has nothing to do with politics.
It has everything to do with our culture.
It's a discussion prompted by the now-infamous words of the GOP presidential nominee. An 11-year-old "Access Hollywood" video shows Donald Trump saying these words: "You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful (women) -- I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. ... Grab them by the p---y. You can do anything."
He has since defended his comments as "locker-room talk."
This is what the actions he described look like outside a locker room.
Writer, director and actor Amber Tamblyn posted her story on Instagram last week. She described a scene involving an ex-boyfriend who found her in a club, where she was with her girlfriends.
"He's a big guy, taller than me. The minute he saw me, he picked me up with one hand by my hair and with his other hand, he grabbed me under my skirt by my vagina -- my
p---y? -- and lifted me up off the floor, literally, and carried me, like something he owned, like a piece of trash, out of the club. His fingers were practically inside of me, his other hand wrapped tightly around my hair. I screamed and kicked and cried. He carried me this way, suspended by his hands, all the way across the room, pushing past people until he got to the front door ... That part of my body, which the current Presidential Nominee of the United States Donald Trump recently described as something he'd like to grab a woman by, was bruised from my ex-boyfriend's violence for at least the next week."
Jennifer Conti, an ob-gyn, shared her own experience in an essay published on Slate. When she was 10 years old, a grown man reached between her legs and squeezed.
"I was at a local toy store. My father was in the next aisle and heard me scream. The man got away, but the memory of this event has stayed with me ever since. ... These memories lie dormant for most of the time, tucked away in a place I choose consciously not to acknowledge. But the Taser I own, the keys I keep clutched between my knuckles when walking alone, and the fear I feel for my own daughter are testaments to how you can never truly erase this kind of violation."
After the "Trump tapes" were released, Canadian writer Kelly Oxford began tweeting about the times men had sexually assaulted her, starting with: "Old man on city bus grabs my 'p---y' and smiles at me, I'm 12."
She asked women to tweet about their sexual assaults. The next day, she posted this update: "Women have tweeted me sexual assault stories for 14 hours straight. Minimum 50 per minute. harrowing. do not ignore." Many used the hashtag #notokay.
Millions of people have had visceral reactions to the laughing and lewd talk on that video, partly because it makes them relive a moment when they've been bullied, humiliated or violated in some way.
An NBC/WSJ poll taken soon after the release of the tapes, but before the second presidential debate, revealed some interesting context. Prior to the video release on Oct. 7, 45 percent of likely men voters said they did not think Trump respects women. That number jumped 10 points to 55 percent after the recording became public.
The majority of men recognized it for what it is. You don't have to be a husband, a father or a brother of a woman to condemn sexual violence.
Only 31 percent of voters said Trump's comments about women were "inappropriate, but typical of how some men talk in private with other men," according to the survey. So, if you commonly hear talk or jokes about assaulting women, you are in the minority. If you defend predatory remarks about women, you reveal far more than your political affiliations.
In a 2010 survey, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 44 percent of U.S. women have experienced sexual violence victimization other than rape at some point in their lives, and nearly one in five has been raped.
Women are constantly fighting for their own bodily integrity, but we are not the only victims of sexual violence. Boys and men are sexually abused and assaulted, as well.
Our bodies are not objects for anyone to grab. Not if they are more powerful, not if they are wealthy and not if they are bigger.
A friend -- a 63-year-old man who has heard his share of lewd talk among friends -- reminded me that this is a message that transcends this brutally divisive election: Consent is a human right.