Anna decided to protest at a Trump rally - and she made it personal

By Danielle Paquette

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump leaves a campaign rally in Lakeland, Florida. Photo / AP
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump leaves a campaign rally in Lakeland, Florida. Photo / AP

The first time it happened, Anna Lehane was 15.

She was walking to the movie theater in her Pennsylvania town when a man rolled down his car window and yelled, "Nice a**!"

The random appraisal of her body made her feel small. "Like I'd been knocked down a peg," she says, "and couldn't do anything about it".

Lehane, now 18, felt the same way after she heard the Republican presidential candidate bragging about groping women without their permission.

The first man had sped away before she could muster a response. This time, the teenager said, she had two days to prepare a comeback.

She found a white T-shirt and bought some black iron-on letters. She showed up at the Donald Trump rally wearing a message: Grab my p***y. I dare you.

The 2005 tape hit the web on Saturday, launching a national conversation about how society treats women.

The footage shows Trump, then 59, chatting with former Access Hollywood host Billy Bush.

"You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful - I just start kissing them," the GOP nominee says in the recording. "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 'em by the p***y," Trump says. "You can do anything."

The White House said Trump was describing sexual assault. A surge of Republicans also condemned the candidate, some calling for him to drop out of the race.

Canadian writer Kelly Oxford asked women on Twitter to share their assault stories, writing, "I'll go first: Old man on city bus grabs my 'p***y' and smiles at me, I'm 12."

Lehane, a high school senior, thought about the men who've leered at her. Some classmates. More strangers. "It makes you feel out of control," she told the Post. "Like you can't make them see you're a person."

Middle and high school girls tend to experience more sexual harassment than their male peers, according to a 2011 study by the American Association of University Women.

The survey found 56 per cent of girls and 40 per cent of boys reported being the target of unwelcome sexual remarks. Girls were much more likely than boys to say such treatment affected their ability to sleep and their desire to leave the house.

One finding cut against the general belief that boys tease or toss suggestive remarks at their crushes. The survey asked students who admitted to harassing others why the did it. Only 3 per cent said "because I liked them," while 44 per cent said they felt such behaviour was "not a big deal" and 39 per cent said they were trying to be funny.


Even sexual assault starts early. The Justice Department defines it as "any type of sexual contact or behaviour that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient." Forty-four per cent of reported assaults take place before the victim is 18.

After the tape surfaced, NBC suspended Bush from the Today show. Trump apologised for offending people, dismissed the remarks as "locker-room talk" and kept campaigning. He arrived on Tuesday in Lehane's community, pledging to grow jobs in Pennsylvania and imprison his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

The teenager, who initially backed Sanders and now supports Clinton, wasn't sure what to expect as she moved through the crowd.

She spotted a man sporting a shirt that said, "She's a c**t. Vote for Trump!" She noticed people staring at her, but not necessarily in a mean way. One guy, wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat, complimented her outfit. Another called her a "commie".

Lehane had heard about scuffles erupting at Trump rallies nationwide. One had ended with a man getting punched in the face. She wasn't nervous, though. Not with a trio of reinforcements. They also wore homemade shirts. Theirs said "Black lives matter".

At one point, a police officer told them he'd kick out noisy protesters. But the high schoolers didn't plan on talking to anyone. They preferred a silent statement. Then came a man who looked like a grandfather.

"I always like a good dare," Lehane recalls him saying.

"That's assault," she replied.

He turned away.

- Washington Post

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