MY KOLKATA EDUGRAPH
ADVERTISEMENT
regular-article-logo Sunday, 14 April 2024

Misogynist who vilified women or forgot them

Trump’s gaze is pornographic, if not sexually violent. He looks at women as a collection of body parts, happy when he likes the women, and humiliating when he does not

Chandrima S. Bhattacharya Calcutta Published 09.11.20, 01:16 AM
Donald Trump

Donald Trump File picture

Misogyny is of many types. Donald Trump’s speciality is going after women’s body parts.

He likes to mention their private parts. In 2015, a year before he was elected American President, he said about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly: “She gets out and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions. You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”

ADVERTISEMENT

A decade earlier in 2005 he had been recorded in a private conversation as saying: “And when you’re a star, (women) let you do it. You can do anything.... Grab ‘em by the p****. You can do anything.”

His gaze can wander up. The body parts can offend or please. They mostly offend when they belong to powerful women. About former Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina, in 2015, Trump had said: “Look at that face. Would anybody vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next President?” In 2006, of comedian and television host Rosie O’Donnell, he had said: “If I were running The View, I’d fire Rosie O’Donnell. I mean, I’d look at her right in that fat, ugly face of hers, I’d say, ‘Rosie, you’re fired.’”

He found Hillary Clinton doing something unspeakable, when she went on a bathroom break at a Democratic debate in 2015: “I know where she went, it’s disgusting, I don’t want to talk about it…. No, it’s too disgusting. Don’t say it, it’s disgusting.” Sometimes the words, which he hurls like bombs, don’t make sense, but their sheer brutality delivers the message. That is the message.

About Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris, after her debate with Republican vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence, Trump said: “..This monster that was onstage with Mike Pence, who destroyed her last night, by the way.”

He has called Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, “crazy”, an adjective he often showers on women. In May this year, Trump retweeted a number of comments that were critical of Pelosi’s looks, including one that said she wore dentures.

Trump’s gaze is pornographic, if not sexually violent. He looks at women as a collection of body parts, happy when he likes the women, and humiliating when he does not. As described by feminist activists Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon, pornography is the “graphic sexually explicit subordination of women through pictures and words that also includes women being sexually used and abused…”

Yet he was President. And even if he has not been elected this time, he has won enough votes to prove that America loves him. What he says about women does not matter.

Even anti-woman policies do not matter.

The nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court after the death of judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, uncompromising advocate of human rights and women’s rights, fills many with dread about future US legislation on abortion. Pence, in any case, wants to see women’s right to abortion consigned to “the ash heap of history”.

Trump has blocked women’s access to health and redress for sexual harassment. Recently, the LGBTQ community received a shock when the administration attacked the Affordable Care Act’s LGBTQ non-discrimination protections.

There was hope that his misogyny would make things tough for him. The media reported women’s disgust against him and suggested that it would translate into fewer votes for him.

A New York Times columnist, watching an online focus group of seven women from the swing states who had voted for Trump but would not this time, felt it could be indicative of Trump’s losing his popularity with women.

The women in the group said they were deeply disenchanted by Trump’s misogyny: his constant vilification of women and his language. More important, Trump had completely ignored the experience of his country’s women during the pandemic.

In September alone, the article says, about 6,17,000 US women, aged 16 years and above, left employment, eight times the number of men. The piece also referred to a study that is tracking mothers during the pandemic and said that marital strife over childcare is increasing.

Trump was worried, too, about his popularity slipping among suburban women. He enlisted his wife Melania Trump again to speak to women, as he did during the 2016 elections, which he believes had paid off. Melania also claimed that her husband was not “anti-gay”, which went viral.

Yet speaking to suburban women at a meeting, Trump forgot them altogether. “And you know what else? I’m also getting your husbands — they want to get back to work, right?” he said. Then he repeated his words, in his style. “We’re getting your husbands back to work, and everybody wants it.”

Right. Women do not work. They cook, clean and pleasure their men.

So the question is why do women vote for Trump, in this age and day? But Right wing, anti-feminist politics has not alienated women in general. Another function of patriarchy is to render women’s interests invisible.

On www.womenfortrump.com, the official website of a group of women Trump supporters, the reasons women should support Trump are listed:

⦿ He thinks outside the box and tells it like it is… he’s genuine and I think that’s a breath of fresh air
⦿ He has the brains, drive and determination to be successful
⦿ He takes action, and gets things done in the real world
⦿ He will keep my family safe from outside threats and illegal immigration
⦿ And I know he’s shaking up the status quo in Washington and putting our country ahead of partisan politics.

So this is not any different from any other Trump supporter’s logic — and not a single mention of women. This is the voice of America, deep, conservative, macho. The women are just a mouthpiece.

In the 2016 US elections, Hillary had gained 54 per cent of women votes, compared to Trump’s 42 per cent. But

Trump has secured 53 per cent of white women’s votes. A website says that according to FEC data, till December 2019, 36.3 per cent of Trump’s donations had come from women.

As one of his countrywomen, Sylvia Plath, has said in her poem Daddy: “Every woman adores a Fascist,/ The boot in the face, the brute/ Brute heart of a brute like you.”

Women feel secure when they are invested in patriarchy; they have no choice. Like men, they see the benefits of being at one with the dominant forces aligned with it, majoritarianism and capitalism, and not the brutal treatment that is meted out to women.

That is why minorities also vote for the most powerful man around — Blacks, Hispanics, Indians in the US, even if the man is hostile to their specific interests.

This is the deepest structural problem of society; politics alone cannot address this evil.

It is a mistake to look at Trump in isolation, says a woman of Indian origin who now lives in Wisconsin and has campaigned for Biden and Harris.

“His party has laid the groundwork for him for long to flourish in,” she says. “Lindsey Graham, a senator from South Carolina, has just said that women have a place in South Carolina if they follow the traditional American family structure. It’s inaccurate to see Trump as an aberration. He only heightens and elevates the message at a sharper pitch,” she adds.

Trump has lost the elections, but he will not go away.

Follow us on:
ADVERTISEMENT