Donald Trump's new campaign manager – a woman brought in to help the tycoon’s perception among female voters – is at the centre of a new controversy over comments she made saying “rape would not exist” if women were stronger.
Kellyanne Conway, who was installed as Mr Trump's campaign manager earlier this month, made the remarks during a panel discussion on US television three years ago. They have been brought to light because of her prominent role in the Republican candidate's campaign.
“If we were physiologically – not mentally, emotionally, professionally – equal to men, if we were physiologically as strong as men, rape would not exist,” Ms Conway said. “You would be able to defend yourself and fight him off.”
The discussion on PBS’s To the Contrary was broadcast in January 2013.
CNN said that the panel of women had been discussing women in the military and gender equality in combat. Ms Conway brought up the analogy unprompted, using it as part of a statement about women's physical capabilities in relation to those of men.
The comments were recirculated by an anti-Trump group, Democratic Coalition Against Trump, a fundraising and lobbying organisation or super PAC, which claimed the comments were evidence that Mr Trump’s campaign did not understand “acceptable political views”.
“We cannot have a reality show in the White House; the stakes are just too high, especially for women,” said the group’s National Finance Director Francesca Lucia.
The group also quoted The Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead, who founded Lady Parts Justice and Artists Against Trump, in slamming the comments.
“Most people who think like Donald Trump would only express their views in private, because they’re shameful. But not Kellyanne Conway. Not Eric Trump, when he said that Ivanka wouldn't allow herself to be subject to sexual harassment. And certainly not Donald Trump himself,“ Ms Winstead said.
“They seem to think it's acceptable to blame rape victims for their assaults, deny women the right to control their own health care, and downplay sexual harassment in the workplace.”
Planned Parenthood's political arm also condemned the remarks.
“Conway fits a dangerous Trump campaign pattern of not understanding or caring about the struggles, discrimination, and even sexual violence that women face every day in this country,” the group said in a statement released on Tuesday.
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