EPISODE 3: ASHLEY, PART 1
Transcribed by Jordan Yanco & Dylan Riley
SAMIA VO: This is Make America Relate Again. I’m Samia Mounts.
Welcome back to the pod! If you’re listening for the first time, this podcast is all about healing the intense political divide in our country. I’m a liberal Hillary Clinton voter, and I’ve been seeking out lady Trump voters willing to have respectful, compassionate conversations with me about what's going on in Washington.
This show isn’t about debating the issues or changing people’s minds. It’s not about who’s right and who’s wrong. Or even about all the most current issues. There are lots of other podcasts that cover those subjects way better than I ever could. This show is about how we treat each other as human beings, even when we passionately disagree. It’s about relating to and respecting one another. These days, political bigotry has become a national problem - people are literally shooting each other over it, the most recent example, of course, being the horrifying attack on Republican Congressman Steve Scalise and other Republicans at a freaking baseball game! It’s getting crazy out there. Building bridges across the political divide is more important now than ever.
In episode 1, I spoke with Ellen from Michigan, a 70-something retiree who dislikes the majority of social programs and who admitted to having a deep fear of people who identify as Muslim. In episode 2, we heard from Yolanda Aponte, who doesn’t trust the media and prefers to get her news from alt-right sites like Infowars.
In this episode, edited from the second interview I conducted for this podcast, I’m gonna introduce you to someone whose views are a little more mainstream.
Ashley Rollo is 30 years old and has lived in New Jersey most of her life. I visited her in her home in Freehold on February 10, 2017. She grew up in a conservative family and has always been passionate about politics - and I gotta say, she put me to shame on several issues. Her opinions were solid, and her arguments challenged me. I also really liked her as a person. She’s my age, she’s smart, she’s funny - she’s a woman I’d be proud to count as a friend.
She’s also just as chatty and opinionated as I am, and our conversation stretched well over two hours, with lots and lots of juicy bits. For that reason, I decided to edit it into two parts.
Trigger warning - in this episode, Ashley and I talk a lot about misogyny, sexual assault, and rape culture in America. If those topics set off bad emotional chain reactions within you, I’ll totally understand if you want to come back next week for the second half of our conversation.
The usual disclaimers here. First of all, I’ve edited this interview for clarity and time, but I’ve been careful not to change context or meaning. Liberals, you’re gonna want me to argue harder on certain subjects, but understand that the premise of the show includes not trying to change people’s minds. It’s about hearing them out, not forcing my ideas on them. And conservatives, I totally get it if you hate all of my opinions, but I hope you also hear how I’m trying to understand where my guests are coming from, and how I’m giving them the respect they deserve.
Lastly, this ain’t a show featuring experts who are prepared with notes and get everything right. Me and my guests are regular Americans who get things wrong plenty. If you hear something that strikes you as off, go check out the show notes for this episode on the website at makeramericarelatepodcast.com. You’ll find detailed fact checks for virtually everything we say, with linked sources. And if we’ve missed something, or left out vital information, let me know and I’ll address it. You can use the Contact form on the website, or just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sometimes, though, someone will get something so wrong that I feel it’s important to correct within the show itself. There’s one of those in this episode - and it’s something I got wrong. Really wrong. Something that shattered a lot of my opinions and arguments around what rape culture means for all Americans.
Intrigued? Listen on.
A: I think you just got a new friend.
S: [laughs] All right, I am here in the residence of Ashley Rollo. Hi Ashley.
A: Hi, how are you?
S: Thank you so much for joining us today. Your animals are adorable and are giving me life right now. While I pet your really cute dog, can you just tell me and the listeners a little bit about yourself, where you grew up, how old you are, and what your politics have been, and sort of, in general, what shaped them.
A: I am 30 years old. I was born in Brooklyn, NY. I’m an Italian American. I lived most of my life in New Jersey. I went to college in New York. And as far as politics are concerned, I was raised in a very conservative household. My grandmother helped Reagan with his campaign. Politics has been pretty stable in my family for generations, and it’s been a big talking point at every family discussion. So I guess I could say that it’s been something that I’ve known about since I was younger.
S: And your family is conservative.
A: Very conservative. My family’s probably one of the most conservative groups of people that I know, so-
S: Okay, that’s great, because so far the people I’ve been talking to were actually people who grew up in liberal families and then became conservative as they got older, so you’re representing, like, someone who’s grown up with a conservative viewpoint their entire lives and I really appreciate that viewpoint. So as a life-long conservative, I’m just gonna cut right to the chase here, and I’ll ask you my first question - first line of questioning - and when we’ve worked through this, then it’ll be your turn to ask me a question. What were your reasons for voting for Donald Trump in this election? Besides the fact that you grew up conservative - what were the - the actual issues that swayed you?
A: The two biggest issues that I know really swayed me for Donald Trump would definitely be his views on immigration, and his views on the economy. As far as immigration is concerned, we’re all immigrants here. Every person in this country that’s here right now, for the most part, has come from a long line of immigrants. The thing is, what’s starting to happen now, is people are coming here without going through the proper channels, without going through proper vetting, and I believe that Donald Trump was the candidate to go through the proper channels and make sure that things were done the correct way, as far as any type of new legislation that needed to be passed, to help with some of the vetting problems that we’ve been having in our country.
S: So are you talking about a particular group of immigrants, from a particular region, or just all in general?
A: All in general. I believe that people should be vetted appropriately no matter what country they come from, because no matter where you’re from, you could be radicalized to do harm on others. Whether you’re living in Italy, whether you’re living in Canada, whether you’re living in the Middle East, and I believe that every person should be held to the same standard of questioning no matter where they come from.
S: So what about our current vetting process for new immigrants and our current immigration policy, under the Obama administration and past administrations, have you specifically disagreed with?
A: The problem that I’m seeing with - I’ll use the Middle East as an example. With the current Obama administration, on December 18th, 2015, he actually added onto his current administration’s policy, where - that he added countries onto the list, that needed to go for the visa program. And people from certain countries were subject to stricter vetting policies, which is great. Those they target - countries like Iraq, Iran, other countries in the Middle East. But the biggest problem that a lot of people are starting to have with that policy is that it doesn’t cover interviews for people over the age of 80 and under the age of 13. There are so many videos now being released by ISIS where they’re targeting children, they’re trying to recruit children. One of the most recent ones, you just see children using firearms and it’s just - it’s heartbreaking to see. So those children are maybe five, six, at most seven years old in any of these given videos, and now that they’re not subject to questioning prior to coming here because of their age scares me. Because just because they come over at a young age doesn’t mean that they don’t have some type of thought in their head that they want to do harm. And that’s one of my biggest problems. People over the age of 80 are also not subjected to the questioning, and I’m not necessarily worried about an 85-year-old person coming over here to do something crazy-
A: -as I am a young child, but it’s just something that needs to be addressed.
S: There’s an argument to be made there that questioning children, besides perhaps being counterproductive or unproductive because you can’t, you know, you can’t always trust that what’s coming out of a child’s mouth is the actual truth, and you know, the children are children. It’s hard to treat them the same as adults, which is why we don’t. There’s an argument to be made that if we did question children and decide, oh, this child has been indoctrinated with these, you know, ISIS-led ideas, we shouldn’t let them into our country, that you’re creating a larger opportunity for a new terrorist to be born by forcing them to stay in that environment that they’re trying to get out of, because they’re fleeing violence.
A: The problem that I see with that isn’t that I think that there are more people coming over to our country that are gonna do us harm than not. The problem with that is that, yes, is it sad if children do need to stay there? Of course. But if they’re going to cause harm to people here, in our country, I wanna take the necessary precautions to protect them. And if a child, just like here in America, if a child in any school is starting to show signs of abuse at home, they meet with a child counselor. They talk to someone. If they’re starting to show bullying tendencies, they meet with a counselor. If a child calls in a threat, at a school, they talk to a counselor. And I think that those rules that we apply here to our people need to be applied to people that are coming over from other countries. It’s not that I’m trying to keep them out, it’s just that if there is some type of problem, either we a) let them into our country without rectifying the problem, or b) we don’t know that that problem exists by not questioning them.
S: Did Donald Trump ever say that he wanted to question children in his campaign, or - or since he’s been inaugurated?
A: He did say that he wanted to look at the way that we do our immigration policy. [dog shakes in background] He didn’t give any specifics as far as what he wanted to do that was going to change it. But he did say that the way that we do our current vetting policy should be looked at.
S: So our current vetting policy is one of the most strenuous and comprehensive in the world. For refugees to be accepted into our country they have to go through a vetting process that lasts an average of 12-18 months, they have to do multiple interviews with different intelligence agencies, they have to undergo biometrics and data-based screening. It’s a really intense process as - as it is already. And if you look at the numbers of refugees who have executed terrorist attacks in our country, there’s none. Literally none. A recent study showed that of 19 people in our country who facilitated potential or aspiring terrorists to go abroad to the Middle East and train to be fighters for ISIS, of 19 people who facilitated that, three of them - three of them - were refugees. And those three people facilitated, meaning they helped with money or funding, and logistics, so there actually have been no terrorist attacks carried out by refugees. And eighty percent of the recent terrorist attacks on our country were carried out by U.S. citizens. A lot of people are saying that this is a home-grown problem, these, you know, the majority of the terrorist attacks in our country are carried out by our own. People who’ve been converted by ISIS propaganda, and you know, wanna make that kind of a horribly violent, hostile statement to the world. So, with those facts in mind, why this - why this focus on immigration and refugees? Why is it scary?
A: It’s not that it’s scary. It’s just that I remember what happened on September 11th. Those people did not come from the countries in the list due to the fact of negotiations that we have with NATO and NAFTA. But the problem lies in the fact that the world that we live in today is not the same world that we lived in back in 2001. And if that happened back then, there is a chance that it can happen back now. And it’s not to say that the current vetting problem is a problem. We’re trying to take away, from the entire learning experience of allowing people into the country, we’re trying to take away from the fact that, we are trying to get people into this country where we know, to the best of our knowledge, that they have been vetted appropriately, including the children that I believe need to be questioned. So if we kept the current vetting procedures in place, right now, children that were five, six years old, a couple of years ago, they’re still ten, eleven right now. They’re not really in an age, or position, to really act out on anything that they may have seen while back in their home country. And another thing is, too, people who come here on visas often go back home to visit, so who’s to say that that child doesn’t go back home to visit his aunts, his uncles, whatever, and come back with more disdain for the American people.
S: So let me, to try to understand what you’re saying. Even though there are no - there’s no evidence right now that terrorist violence towards our country is being perpetrated by refugee children, you are fearful that that could happen in the future, when some of these kids who are coming here are older.
A: Yes. Solely for the fact that I’ve lost family members in 9/11, and-
S: I’m really sorry to hear that.
A: -and if there was something that could have been done, whether it was one of those people getting questioned better. If there was one more step that they needed to take, that would have prevented those people from coming here, three thousand Americans - and not people that were born here Americans. People that came through the proper channels, people that were Black, White, Hispanic - they would still be here. We would still have those two magnificent buildings standing tall in downtown Manhattan. But the problem is, something broke in 2001, where those people were allowed into this country. They shouldn’t have been.
S: But that was under a Republican president.
A: Oh, but I don’t believe that the terrorism started with Republicans. I think terrorism has been an issue that’s been plaguing our world for decades.
S: Well, absolutely, I just, I just said that to make the point that, you know, whether we have a Republican or a Democratic president, intelligence will sometimes fail us.
A: Yeah, I mean - I mean, look at Bill Clinton, he had Osama Bin Laden in his hands, and he let him go. Osama Bin Laden shook hands with Hillary Clinton, and then, several years later, helped orchestrate the attack where three thousand Americans died. That just shows you that it doesn’t matter how somebody presents themselves to you from day one. It’s what happens after that.
S: Okay, all right, we’re gonna leave this line of questioning. It’s your turn to ask me a question.
A: Yes. Okay, as far as immigration is concerned?
S: It can be about anything. But you can stay on immigration if you like.
A: Okay, actually, one of the questions, and it has nothing to even do with immigration. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to ask a level-headed Hillary Clinton supporter.
A: I want - it sounds crazy, but I’ve always wanted to know, why people still supported her after the way she treated Bernie Sanders, who, in the conservative consensus, should’ve been the Democratic nominee of that party. She came out and basically lied, she slandered him, she cheated her way, for the most part, because I can’t think of most people who even in the primary, voted for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. At least in my home - in my area. And a lot of people, too, were concerned, they were like, “How did Bernie lose?” How could you support a person that [dog shakes in background] wasn’t treating an equal as fairly as she should have?
S: Well, the reason that Bernie Sanders didn’t have a shot at winning the Democratic primary had a lot more to do with how the DNC Chair treated him than how Hillary Clinton treated him. I mean, from my perspective she was just - she was determined to get the nomination and felt like it was long overdue, after she lost it to Barack Obama in 2008. I really liked Bernie Sanders. But I really, really, really wanted Hillary Clinton to be president. I want a female president. And I think that of any presidential candidate that’s ever been up for the job, she was the most qualified, and it was a shame that she had to run against somebody like Donald Trump, who I think was one of the least qualified people to ever go for the job, in my opinion. And I know we disagree on this, but he, to me, represents everything that’s wrong with our society. The way an unqualified, bombastic, insulting, arrogant man can beat out a prepared, articulate, cool-headed woman, a woman with experience that far outweighs anything that he might have succeeded at in his business endeavors, hurts me to my core. As a woman who my entire life has struggled against misogynistic men and trying to make my way through the entertainment industry, to be taken seriously in conversations. I mean, there’s a reason I’m only interviewing women for this podcast. It’s hard for me to relate to men. It’s too easy for them to casually dismiss what I’m saying and just assume I don’t know what I’m talking about. And it’s too easy for me to take it personally when they do that. I have a lot easier time talking to women. So I wanted a female President, and Hillary Clinton, to me, represented breaking the glass ceiling, represented getting somebody in charge of Washington who is making history, who is representing my gender, who is representing my values. It was really easy for me, I mean, I - if Bernie Sanders had won the nomination, I would have supported him. I never disliked him. But yeah, supporting Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders was a no-brainer for me, ’cause I wanted a woman in the White House.
A: I empathize with your frustration for your candidate not winning the election, because honestly, as a Trump supporter, we didn’t think he was gonna win. We really thought he was going to lose to Hillary Clinton, and not because of anything, you know, bias-related, but because it seemed for a long time that she was going to be the winner. Polls were showing it, everything was pointing in the odds of a Hillary Clinton presidency. I do have one other question. A lot of people from the Democratic side is upset with comments that Trump made over fifteen years ago, and there have been comments that Hillary made while in her Senate term about how a marriage should be between a man and a woman. Now, as time progressed, Hillary has changed her tune, and she does believe in rights for men to marry men, women to marry women, whatever people wanna do that’ll make them happy. And that’s okay for her to change her feelings, but do you, as a person supporting her, do you ever think about when she said stuff like that?
S: Oh yeah. Hillary Clinton has traditionally played it pretty safe, and I think - I think I understand why. She’s had to deal with the misogyny of politics in Washington. Misogyny is everywhere. A lot of people try to deny that misogyny is everywhere, but it is. It affects all women whether or not we want to admit it. And I think that Hillary Clinton has always been ambitious, and I think that she’s had a grand plan and she’s tried to play it safe in a lot of ways. I was really grateful, actually, to Bernie Sanders for sort of pushing her further to the left, and to a progressive agenda, ’cause he definitely served that purpose. Yeah, I - I know about those statements that she made back in the day, and I know about her policy changes on that, and I’m - I’m kind of of the mindset of, “Well, now that they’re saying the thing that you want them to say, don’t punish them for the thing that they said before, in an earlier time.” I wanted to know what the comments that Donald Trump made fifteen years ago you were referring to when you asked the question. ’Cause I can think of comments that he’s made in the last few months that I have problems with.
A: The biggest comment that people are upset with was when he mentioned how he wanted to grab this woman by the pussy.
S: Right, the Access Hollywood recording.
A: Yes, now, I’m about to speak very frankly here.
S: Please. [laughs]
A: I’ve probably said way worse about men when I’m with my girlfriends in a group setting. And the problem with that is, you know, we weren’t being recorded, we weren’t being in a public eye. Fifteen years ago, Donald Trump didn’t think he was gonna be running for President, let alone winning it.
S: He was - he’s been talking about running for President since 2000.
A: Yeah, but he - that’s like me saying, “Oh, I wanna be an astronaut someday,” you know, like everybody has ambitions.
S: He publicly - no, but he publicly said he was thinking about running for president, and when he made those comments, he had a microphone on him.
A: Yeah, but that’s - but the problem with that is like, he wasn’t supposed to be recorded in the sense that it was, and it’s just - I don’t know, I just personally feel that, like, words are only powerful if we give them power.
S: So, I had - I do have a response to this, and I have thought about this, because, like you, I have said some nasty things to my friends in private about what I wanted to do to men. [laughs] Believe me…
S: I have said some vulgar things. The difference, though, is that I don’t have multiple men accusing me of groping them, kissing them without their permission, or raping them, like Donald Trump does. The other thing is, I’m not running for president. Third thing is, sex crimes perpetrated on men by women don’t really happen. Men sexually assault women. Women don’t really sexually assault men, that’s not a thing. So it’s kind of different and hard for me to equate the two.
A: Oof. Women do perform sex crimes on men. They’re either under-reported, because men are afraid of coming forward, or they’re just not talked about as much. I do think a man can be a victim. I know-
S: I think a man can be a victim, too, but—but—then I’m gonna ask you for evidence, like point me to a place where I can see real evidence that there’s sex crimes perpetrated by women against men to any degree or scale comparative to the sex crimes perpetrated by men towards women.
A: Okay. From the Student Life Center from the University of Michigan. “Male survivors of sexual assault. It is only a myth in our society that men are not sexually assaulted, or that they are only assaulted in prisons. In fact, between nine to ten percent of rape survivors outside of criminal institutions are male.”
S: But are they raped by women or men?
A: From this, the reports are thought to be underestimates due to the barriers male survivors face in the reporting of the process.
S: I am friends with several male sexual assault survivors, and in every case that I know of personally, they were assaulted by another man.
A: I’m pretty sure, out of the billions of people in our world, I’m sure there’s at least one man that has—
A: -been sexually assaulted-
S: Yes, but that doesn’t constitute a-
A: Here we go!
S: -wide range - a wide-reaching, massive problem.
A: [reading] “When men are raped. A new study reveals that men are often the victims of sexual assault, and women are often the perpetrators.”
S: What’s the source here?
A: This is published from Slate.
S: Okay, great.
A: [reading] “Last year, the National Crime Victimization survey turned up a remarkable statistic. In asking 40,000 households about rape and sexual violence, the survey uncovered that 38% of incidents were against men. The number seemed so high that it prompted researcher Lara Stemple to call the Bureau of Justice Statistics to see if maybe it had been a mistake. After all, in past years, men have accounted for somewhat [sic] between 5 and 14 percent of rape and sexual violence victims. But, no, it wasn’t a mistake.” The article then goes on to explain how Stemple, who worked with the Health and Human Rights Project at UCLA, “had often wondered whether incidents of sexual violence against men were under-reported.” She “began digging through existing surveys” and covered, for some kinds of victimization, men and women do seem to have “roughly equal experiences.”
S: I’m just saying I don’t—I don’t think that you can really find statistics indicating a massive, widespread sexual assault problem of women attacking men in the same numbers or magnitude that you can of men attacking women - I mean that’s kind of been—
A: Oh, I mean, I’m sure more women do get sexually assaulted by men. But to say that a man doesn’t get sexually assaulted by a woman is kind of unfounded, because, like, it does happen.
SAMIA VO: Okay, so I’m sure a lot of my feminist liberal friends are nodding their heads right now and being all like, “Yeah, Trump voter chick, why are you acting like men have it as bad as women in our society’s woman-hating rape culture?” Yeah, I thought that, too. And it’s true that men have certain advantages in our society, and that history shows a consistent subjugation of women - I mean, everyone knows that, and fighting for equal rights for women has been a long, hard struggle that isn’t over. But as far as sexual assault statistics, I got this so wrong. I’m kind of reeling from the discovery. But okay. Deep breaths. Here’s the thing. There really is credible new research from the last several years that indicates that women sexually assault men roughly as often as men do women. If you only define rape as forced penetration, statistics show that women experience rape far more often than men, there’s no contest there. But if you expand the definition of rape to include any kind of nonconsensual sex, including being “made to penetrate,” the numbers equal out. And men experience depression and emotional dysfunction in response to being sexually victimized the same way and to the same degree that women do. This is huge and goes against everything radical feminism and liberal culture has been saying on the topic - I mean, hell, it goes against everything I’ve been saying for years! - but it’s backed by real science, and if we ignore it because we want to believe that rape culture only affects women, then we are no better than climate change deniers. Ashley was reading from a 2014 Slate article, which I’ve linked to on the show website, makeamericarelatepodcast.com, along with articles from Vice and The Atlantic on the same research findings. I really hope you’ll go read them. This is so important. We have been wrong about this, and it’s time for everyone to look at what science is showing us when it comes to the behavioral differences between men and women (hint: there actually aren’t that many.) And on this subject, while I’ve got your attention, I’m also gonna recommend everyone read a book called Testosterone Rex, by the brilliant Cordelia Fine. It will destroy your assumptions that a person’s gender affects their behavior in any kind of significant way. That means aiming for equality does not include painting men as the villains. We are all the villains, and we are all the good guys. We’re all capable of bad behavior, and good, regardless of gender. The patriarchy hurts everyone. And sexual assault goes both ways. Okay, so again, for the record, I was wrong here. Ashley was super, super right. Back to the interview.
S: I do think that it is a deal-breaker for a potential president of a country to say something so…[sigh] so derogatory about women, and what they will or won’t let you do to them, because you’re a star. I just don’t think it’s appropriate. For me, that statement alone would’ve - would’ve been a deal-breaker, ‘cause I don’t want my President to be a man that I…that I wouldn’t wanna be alone with.
A: See, I don’t see Donald Trump as being that monster that people make him out to be. I mean, to be perfectly honest, this man has been in the public eye for decades, and suddenly he’s running for Pres - this man won an Ellis Island Award. And suddenly, now, right when he becomes President, people are coming out to say, “Oh, he did this to me, he did that to me,” but there hasn’t been any substantiated evidence against him. Let’s take that comment out of perspective of this argument for a second. Anyone in this country can accuse anyone of anything. Anyone in this country can sue anyone for anything. And I just see him as being an easy target, especially now that he’s President of the United States, because most people will get a settlement just because it’s cheaper than legal fees. Or like the woman in California who’s tried suing him twice. The courts in California, which is a very liberal state, said, “You have nothing to go by,” and that was the woman who came out the day before Election Day, or a couple of days before Election Day. The courts in California said, “Listen, we would love to help you. We see where you’re going with this, but you don’t have the substantiated evidence.”
S: Well, it’s incredibly hard to prove rape, especially long after the fact. I mean, it almost always turns into a his-word-against-her-word situation, and it puts the victims at a disadvantage. Rape victims are traumatized right after the fact. Most rape victims, right after being raped, aren’t thinking, “Oh, I need to swab my vagina and get a DNA sample and, like, go straight to a hospital and get a rape kit done.” They’re thinking, “I need to get through the day without dying.”
A: Yes, and I completely agree with that. I do—
A: Listen, I’m a victim myself. And I can tell you not a day goes by that I don’t think about what happened to me. But—
S: So how do you get past Donald Trump saying things like that, how do you get past the Ivanka Trump rape allegation, how do you get past--?
A: Because words are words. And that’s one thing that my experience has led me to. A person can say, in this country, whatever they want. They can. Why? Because they’re protected against - by the First Amendment. I think that right now, we as a country need to come together and realize that words - not just sexually charged words, like, racial words as well - they’re just words, and we give them the power. Like, him saying the word pussy? We just said it several times in this conversation.
S: It wasn’t-
A: Maybe not in that context, but what I’m trying to say is, Donald Trump can say things. These sexual assaults that he’s alleged against…you know, I mean, there’s no substantiated evidence. When someone comes forward and they bring it to court, and they say, “Actually, here. Here’s the proof.” That’s a completely different story.
S: His ex-wife did that. Had a very, very detailed testimony as to what he did to her. Detailed to the extreme. And then something happened and she mysteriously withdrew all the charges and then completely changed her public statement and said he wasn’t guilty of anything. When you’re dealing with people who have a lot of money, it’s easy to speculate on what happened there. I mean, she was already gonna be set for life.
A: Oh - okay.
S: The ex-wife of Donald Trump. There was no reason for her to accuse him of rape unless it happened. There was no reason for her to make up all these, these details. And there was only one reason for her to withdraw all of it and suddenly say, “Oh no no no no, he was a great husband and I take it all back.” And that’s money.
A: But that’s the thing, another thing is - everything is…it - that’s everybody’s speculation, that that’s what occurred.
S: I mean, that’s my personal opinion—
A: Well, that’s your opinion—
S: It is. It is my opinion, but - but the thing is that, like, this man’s ex-wife accused him of rape.
A: Lots of ex-wives have a vendetta against their husbands sometimes. And I’ve seen it. I have friends that have been divorced, and I see - even with boyfriends. I mean, we both, I’m sure, both know women who have been in dating relationships with men, that not necessarily say that, like, “Oh, he sexually assaulted me,” but, “Oh, maybe he hit me, maybe he did that,” just to defame that person’s character because they’re upset. And it does happen. I’m not saying that - whether or not that happened between Donald Trump and his ex-wife, we’ll never know. And I’m a person who’s based solely off of - of facts when it comes to issues like that, because a rape allegation is something that is very, very serious. There are too many people that are saying that they were raped by random individuals, not just in the political spectrum. And now, they’re kind of like crying wolf, where they say that it happened, but then they retract their statement, and they say that they made it up because they were upset. And I just think that, if we’re gonna stick straight to facts, if that was withdrawn, it was withdrawn. We don’t have the proof. I can’t hold my political candidate accountable for something that there’s no proof on.
S: What happened - what did you do with - with your incident of sexual assault?
A: With my incident? I-
S: If you don’t mind answering, I know that’s personal
A: No, I have no problem talking about it. I think people can learn from it. I kept it inside for years. Years. I can tell you the day that it happened, I could tell you the time. I could tell you the location. I could tell you the person’s address, where they lived at the time. I could tell you crazy, weird details, and this is something that occurred over sixteen years ago now. And I still remember it like it was yesterday. You know, and the problem with that is back then I was scared. And if I was as strong as I am now, I probably would’ve done something about it, but because that person threatened me, and I was fearful…I was young, you know, I was fourteen years old. You know, when you’re fourteen, you don’t understand what the repercussions of that is, you don’t understand the psychological damage it’s gonna do to you. You don’t learn that until you’re an adult. And I know that if I were able to do things differently, that person would’ve been put in jail. But I didn’t open my mouth. And I do, to this day, I have people that remember when it happened. You know, so it’s not like I don’t have the proof, I mean, the statute of limitations have passed. So even if I wanted to bring that person to justice so that he couldn’t do this to somebody else, I couldn’t.
S: How would you feel if you had gone for that after the fact and people accused you of crying wolf?
A: There are people who tell me every day that they don’t believe that it occurred to me.
S: That’s terrible.
A: And the problem with that is I think it’s a society problem. Because a lot of the times, members of society think, “Oh, well that happened. She’s gotta be making it up, or she did something to deserve it, and I don’t believe that.”
S: But see this - oh, God you’re speaking my language right now so clearly, and it’s obvious that you’re aware of rape culture in this country and what that means. It’s so hard for me to reconcile that with support for a man who represents somebody who has gotten away with this over and over and over again. Who - who literally has bragged about it.
A: The reason I voted for Donald Trump was not because of the words that he said about women. Or didn’t say about women. It wasn’t for his money, or his hair. The two main reasons why I voted for Donald Trump was because I wanted a more prosperous and safer America. And I feel that the greater good of my country is more important than certain things that one - that he said. Like I said, and I told you this when we first started talking, that the reason why I voted for him was his views on immigration and his views on the economy. If you took those two out of the situation and were like, “Well, you know, the words that he said about women - would you vote for him?” Maybe not. But I do feel that the economy and immigration affects everyone in our country.
S: Do you consider yourself a feminist?
A: Define your meaning of the word “feminist.”
S: A person who believes that women and men are equal, and that they deserve the same opportunities and the same treatment by society.
A: Yes, on both ends.
S: You strike me as a feminist just by the way you talk.
A: I do believe that the women should have equal rights to men. But I also am skeptical of affirmative action. Solely for the fact that I think, as a woman, I should be able to perform, if not exceed, the expectations of a man. Just because I know that if you put me against some of the men on certain topics, I’m gonna be bigger, stronger, faster, smarter, quicker on my feet than they are. You know, I honestly think that women, mentally, are stronger than men.
A: I do.
S: [still laughing] I agree with you. I agree with you, I have a theory about it!
A: I really do. ‘Cause if you think about it, like, a man, like, he’ll lose his mind - like, if a man, like, has to take care of kids and do all these other different things around the household, like, he’ll lose his mind. Because women are better at multitasking, at least in my opinion. And you know, like, I think that, like, we need to stop confining to societal norms, like, women should be home with kids and cooking - no. Make the man do it! LIke, I think that, like, a woman shouldn’t be judged the fact that she has a vagina. I think a woman should just be judged on the fact that she’s bigger, better, stronger, faster than a man, you know?
S: I thought that Hillary Clinton was bigger, better, stronger, and faster than Donald Trump in every way, in every regard. And a lot of people agreed with me, and if you just look at their record - it’s really clear who has the qualifications and the experience. So that being said, do you think, as a person who says she’s a feminist and strongly believes in the rights of women, as you obviously do.
S: Very much a bad-ass chick, in my personal opinion. Do you think that sexism played into the election results?
A: I could see where some women voted for Hilary Clinton based solely for the fact that she had a vagina. But then again, I can also see where some men voted for Trump because he didn't. I think it goes on both ends of the spectrum with that.
S: Well I voted for her because I thought she was qualified. I liked the way she spoke on the issues. I liked the things she said. Her policies were very clear whereas Trump’s weren’t. He was sort of, like, grandstanding to appease some of the masses of people in this country, who aren’t nearly as educ - you know, well-informed, and sophisticated as you are. He was really working hard to appeal to people who are run by, you know…
A: Fear. I think both candidates used fear.
S: Yes, run by fear. But I didn’t see Hillary Clinton fear-mongering. I saw Donald Trump fear-mongering. I saw her speaking a message of this country is already great and we are stronger together. That was her whole thing. It was very positive to me, whereas his message was very, very negative. And in my view, I saw sexism as playing very much against Hillary Clinton and for Donald Trump, because that's the way that sexism plays out in our country. Just like saying that men are equally victims of sexual assault as women are - it’s just not true. Women are the victims of sexism far, far more than men are. The examples of men being victims of sexism are so, so small in comparison to the many, many times a day that a woman has to deal with it.
A: Oh, of course, you know.
S: So - so in my view, it would be hard for me to say that sexism went in both directions when Donald Trump won 53% of the white female vote in this country.
A: Listen, you know, a lot of people, if you would’ve put a different candidate up there, another female candidate, instead of Hillary Clinton. If Benghazi never happened, if the stuff with the emails never happened, and she didn’t make it seem like she was trying to sabotage Bernie Sanders, I think those numbers would be very different.
SAMIA VO: And that’s where we’re gonna leave Ashley for today. I was deeply moved by her bravery in speaking about her own experience with sexual assault. I mean, we met that day. She didn’t know me from Eve, and she was willing to open up about something that traumatic and personal.
It made me love her. I’m not kidding. I love Ashley. I want her life to be awesome. Is it frustrating that she knows what its like to be raped and then not believed, but still doesn’t believe the women who have spoken out about the way Donald Trump has violated them? Yes. It’s frustrating as hell. But the argument she made of not being able to hold her candidate accountable for allegations that were never proven - well, that’s the same argument I use in regards to Hillary Clinton and Benghazi.
After I left Ashley’s place, I texted her, “I never acknowledged how brave it was of you to talk about your experience with sexual assault. Just wanted you to know I will be adding this in the closing of the episode. That was amazing, courageous.” And she wrote back right away, “I love you girl. I'm so happy we can do this. I felt safe with you. Women should feel safe with each other regardless of party lines.”
This is what this show is about. The ability to create new connections with people whose views diverge sharply from our own. The ability to care about those living outside of our bubbles. If we all make that a focus in our lives, I believe that, slowly, there would be less and less people advocating for policies that hurt specific populations within our society. Because you can’t hate be indifferent to someone when you know them, and you can’t hate someone whose heart you understand.
If you are loving the show, please go to iTunes and leave a 5-star review. Your reviews are what pushes the show up the iTunes Charts and allows a wider audience to jump on board the Make America Relate Again train. Thank you to all who have left reviews so far. Your feedback means the world to me, and every positive review fills my heart with joy and reaffirms that this project was worth pursuing.
This week’s #TryPod recommendation is the irreverent, no-holds-barred storytelling podcast, Risk!, the show where people tell true stories they never thought they’d dare to share. I’ve been a listener for a couple of years now, and Risk never fails to make me laugh, gasp, cry, and/or all of the above. But don’t take my word for it - Slate dot com called it “jaw-dropping, hysterically funny, and just plain touching.” Search for Risk! wherever you get your podcasts and subscribe today. You won’t regret it.
Many thanks to Jordan Yanco and Dylan Riley for transcribing this episode, Andrew Guastella for enhancing the interview audio, Christopher Gilroy for editing it all together and mixing it down, and David Sokol for compiling and synthesizing the show notes. As always, I welcome your feedback, comments, suggestions, all of it! Contact me through the website at makeamericarelatepodcast.com, or email me at email@example.com.
Come back next week to hear the rest of my conversation with Ashley Rollo, where we talk the economy, government spending, where the GOP gets it wrong, and the big issue that made a lot of people vote against Hillary Clinton - Benghazi. Ashley’s views are fascinating, and she dispelled a lot of my assumptions about conservatives.
This has been Make America Relate Again. See you next week.