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Is America finally having an honest discussion about rape culture?

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When writer Kelly Oxford sent a Tweet last Friday encouraging women to share an account of their first sexual assault as many as 50 tweets per minute came back to her. 

Since then, millions of people have shared their stories. 

That movement inspired a conversation about the sexually motivated assault, coercion and harassment that women are exposed to from a young age.

Jaclyn Friedman, activist and author of "Yes Means Yes," and Kimberle Crenshaw, professor at UCLA and Columbia Law and the executive director at the African American Policy Forum, joined the program.

Below are excerpts from their conversation.

To hear the entire discussion, use the audio player above.

On why the Trump tape is more than a campaign issue

Crenshaw

"To say that these comments were simply 'locker room talk' and to think that is a defense, is an illustration of precisely the rape culture that produces the behavior that we've all experienced and are concerned about. When the First Lady put words to the experience [and] the outrage ... that was the capstone of this overwhelming moment of, 'Finally I can acknowledge and see that happened to me is not just about me.' It's about a condition that impacts the lives of millions of women and girls across the country."

Friedman

"This isn't the first time we've had this conversation. I think it's the most high profile in recent member because it involves someone who is extraordinarily close to the presidency. Earlier this year it was Brock Turner, last year it was somebody else. Then nation forgets and we go back to business as usual." 

On rape culture that starts early

Crenshaw

"This starts very young. When I was last on your show I was talking about a Black Girls Matter report and one piece of that, that we uncovered was how much sexual harassment goes on in school for young girls. And how often that is a factor that leads to girls either being suspended because they fight back or, sometimes, even asked to leave. Once again you have — in the earliest moments of a child's interactions with institutions — the recognition that her body and her sexuality is there for the boys to either grab onto or be distracted by. But she's the problem, not their behavior. That's rape culture from the earliest moments of socialization." 

Friedman

"We need to be talking to sons about this as well. We need to raise kids with girl's stories. Girls are asked all the time to identify with boy's stories, but boys are assumed to not be able to identify with girl's stories. We need to raise boys show are expected to identify with strong women so they grow up thinking about women as full, complex, equal human beings. Instead we raise boys who are expected to see girls as fragile and less than and to define their masculinity as stronger and more powerful than women. And we need, desperately, to create a new idea of masculinity in our culture which doesn't rely on power over women to justify itself." 

On rethinking what sexual assault is and why some men do it

Crenshaw

"We're talking about a racist rape culture and let me say why this is important to all women. [There] is a long history of sexual predation on the part of powerful men, being projected onto other men. This is a theme for Donald Trump, Mexicans are rapists, the 'Central Park Five' are rapists. What you find many times is that the way in which sexual abuse and sexual assault that's interracial is normalized is by saying, 'well, look, at least it's not a black man doing it.' In reality, sexual abuse and sexual assault is dramatically interracial. It's in the interest of women to reject not just the rape culture, but the part that says what happened to me is only important if it's done by someone who doesn't look like me. And that's a way of normalizing sexual abuse as well."

Friedman

"If you talk to rapists they don't say, 'I picked her out because she was the sexist' they say 'I picked her out because I thought she wouldn't protest.' It's absolutely an act of power. There's no basis in thinking that this is an act that's driven by overwhelming sexual desire. But that idea is so deeply embedded in our culture because we have this very old sexual model about men being the pursuers. Women, we're not supposed to want sex on our own terms, which is why we get blamed for male sexual violence if we get sexual at all." 

"We're hearing that conflation of women's sexuality and women's sexual appeal with an excuse for sexual violence in Trump's surrogates' defense. You hear people saying, Hilary likes Beyonce and Beyonce has this racy sexual lyric, how is that any different from what Trump said. Well the difference is consent. Beyonce is singing about sex and sexuality that she owns. Trump is talking about owning other people's bodies." 

"The idea is so common that men feel sexual desire, they can't help themselves, that they're sexually incontinent, and that we make excuses for them. Honestly, I think better of men. Men can control themselves. Most men do."