In an impassioned and personal speech in New Hampshire last week, First Lady Michelle Obama ripped into the Republican presidential nominee, denouncing his treatment of women as “disgraceful” and “intolerable.”
“I think we can all agree that this has been a rough week in an already rough election,” Obama said at a Hillary Clinton campaign event at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester.
She talked about how it had been a week of “profound contrasts,” which saw her celebrating International Day of the Girl last week, and responding to the GOP candidate’s misogyny later in the week.
“I can’t believe I’m saying that a candidate for President of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women,” she said, admitting that the revelations had “shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn’t have predicted.”
Given that, Obama continued, “it would be dishonest and disingenuous for me to move onto the next thing like this was all just a bad dream. This is not something we can ignore. This is not something we can sweep under the rug as just another disturbing footnote in a sad election season.”
“This was not just a lewd conversation, this was not just locker room banter,” the First Lady said. “This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior. And actually bragging about kissing and groping women, using language so obscene that many of us were worried about our children hearing it when we turned on the TV.”
“I feel it so personally,” Obama said, before continuing: “The shameful comments about our bodies. The disrespect of our ambitions and intellect. The belief that you can do anything you want to a woman. It is cruel. It’s frightening. And the truth is, it hurts.
“It’s like that 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 when you see that guy at work that stands just a little too close, stares a little too long, and makes you feel uncomfortable in your own skin. It’s that feeling of terror and violation that too many women have felt when someone has grabbed them or forced himself on them, and they said no, but he didn’t listen.
“We thought all of that was ancient history, didn’t we? So many have worked for so many years to end this kind of violence and abuse and disrespect, but here we are, in 2016, and we’re hearing these exact same things every day on the campaign trail. We are drowning in it.
“I know it’s a campaign,” she said, “but this isn’t about politics, it’s about basic human decency…Now is the time for all of us to stand up and say, enough is enough.”
Obama addressed the GOP candidates reported indiscretions at length without ever mentioning his name. But there was no doubt at whom her ire was directed.
“To dismiss this as everyday locker room talk is an insult to men everywhere,” she said. “The men that you and I know do not treat women this way…They are husbands and brothers and sons who don’t tolerate women being demeaned and disrespected. And like us, these men are worried about the impact this election is having on our boys who are looking for role models of what it means to be a man.”
“Strong men, men who are truly role models, don’t need to put down women to make themselves feel powerful,” Obama concluded, before urging the crowd to campaign for Clinton over the next few weeks.