Still Silencing Women — Jia Tolentino in The New Yorker on what one year of #MeToo has done, and hasn’t, for women speaking up.
During the past year, I have grown increasingly uneasy with a fairly common bit of semantic slippage: in headlines, in think pieces, and on social media, many people use the phrases “#MeToo movement” and “#MeToo moment” interchangeably, without acknowledging the gulf between them. Is #MeToo—this jagged, brutal, contentious, and profound collective reckoning with the extent to which men have been allowed to abuse their power—an epochal shift toward a better and more equal society? Or is it fleeting—a piece of time that we can record and later revisit, but that we could never, in this country, under a twenty-times-accused-of-sexual-misconduct President, make last?
In recent weeks, as we neared the first anniversary of this moment or movement breaking into the mainstream, signs of a new narrative—or perhaps a very old one imbued with a new reactionary fervor—began to emerge, offering one possible answer to that question. Louis C.K., who has admitted to cornering multiple women who worked in the comedy industry and masturbating in front of them, started performing again, to the delight of supporters who seemed to believe that C.K. has been victimized by the Zeitgeist. Harper’s and The New York Review of Books published lengthy first-person essays by disgraced men who painted themselves as martyrs. The Republican Party pushed Brett Kavanaugh into a seat on the Supreme Court, despite multiple credible allegations of sexual misconduct made against him and his string of lies under oath about matters related to that alleged sexual misconduct. (Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.) At a rally in Mississippi, Donald Trump mocked the public testimony of Kavanaugh’s first public accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, who claims that Kavanaugh attempted to rape her while they were in high school. Trump’s supporters, who had earlier chanted “We want Kavanaugh,” roared and laughed and cheered. “A man’s life is shattered,” Trump said, suddenly faking solemnity. He added, “They destroy people. They want to destroy people. These are really evil people.”
The underlying principle here is that the men who have been accused are the heroes, and that those who accuse them, and listen to the accusations, are the villains. This revanchism is not a sign of #MeToo’s overcorrection, or even of its success—it is merely evidence of its existence. This sort of backlash, as Susan Faludi wrote nearly thirty years ago, is “set off not by women’s achievement of full equality but by the increased possibility that they might win it. It is a preemptive strike that stops women long before they reach the finish line.”
When Ford spoke publicly, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in late September, she was unfailingly polite and deferential while being interrogated at length about a traumatic experience. She spoke like a woman who had understood since childhood that survival requires anticipating and accepting the displeasure of men. Kavanaugh, in contrast, who spoke after her, yelled and wept, behaving like a man whose entitlement had never before been challenged, and who believed that male power outweighs women’s personhood as naturally as a boulder outweighs a pearl. The hearing was a vivid illustration of the precise problem that #MeToo has helped to expose, and of the fact that many men consider the exposure of the problem to be the problem itself. At one point, Kavanaugh traded lines with an equally furious Senator Lindsey Graham about how the delay in his confirmation had put him “through hell.”
The anger crackling through Kavanaugh and Graham—and the thrum of vindictive satisfaction that I could feel passing through the base they were playing to—shut me down for the evening. I grasped, for the first time, the extent to which the past year has made some men crave the poisonous high of feeling wrongfully endangered. I also grasped the scale of the consequences that women and other sexual-assault victims will face as a result. Like the white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville, these men are borrowing the rhetoric of the structurally oppressed and delivering it with a rage that is denied to all but the most powerful. “I’m a single white male from South Carolina,” Graham said, at a meeting the morning after the hearing, “and I’m told that I should just shut up, but I will not shut up.”
The past year has been full of sweeping pronouncements. “Time’s up for these men.” “The silence is breaking.” The inflexible triumphalism of this language, like the cheerful pink emoji attached to the #MeToo hashtag, has always left me cold. It is often assumed that women like me, feminists who have argued for a redistribution of power, have been steadily rejoicing—that we’ve blown trumpets after every ouster—when in fact many of us have been exhausted and heartbroken and continually reminded of situations in which our ability to consent had been compromised or nullified in any one of a thousand ways. I don’t know a single woman who has permitted herself to be as openly furious about being sexually assaulted as Kavanaugh allowed himself to be, in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, when speaking about being accused of sexual assault. Like Ford, we have had to be painfully careful about how we speak.
Women’s speech is sometimes wielded, in this #MeToo era, as if it were Excalibur—as if the shining, terrible truth about the lives of women will, by itself, vanquish the men who have exploited and controlled them; as if speech were a weapon that protects those who wield it from hurt. Supporters of #MeToo have, on occasion, adhered to this idea in a sort of delusive optimism. Opponents have brandished it, too, in bad faith, acting as though women’s speech has far more social and political and legal power than it has actually been granted. Until the nineteen-eighties, many jurisdictions required an alleged rape victim’s testimony to be corroborated before a conviction could be issued—even though, for nonsexual crimes, guilt could be established on the basis of a victim’s testimony alone. We saw a replay of this in the Kavanaugh hearing. Although the burden of proof should not have been as high as it would have been for a criminal trial—and though Ford’s testimony was widely regarded, even by many of Kavanaugh’s most powerful supporters, as credible—that testimony was described, again and again, as not enough.
It will be said that Kavanaugh was confirmed despite the #MeToo movement. It would be at least as accurate to say that he was confirmed because of it. Women’s speech—and the fact that we are now listening to it—has enraged men in a way that makes them determined to reëstablish the longstanding hierarchy of power in America. By imagining that they are threatened, men like Kavanaugh have found the motivation to demonstrate, at great cost to the rest of us, that they are still the ones who have the ability to threaten others.
And yet this awful truth will not stop women from speaking, and I do not think that it will turn a movement into a moment. It has become clear that there is not nearly enough left to lose.
Trump was noticeably quick to cut off, interrupt or scold female reporters who asked him questions about his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh during a press conference Monday in the Rose Garden.
Before ABC’s Cecilia Vega had a chance to raise her question about Kavanaugh, Trump was immediately combative. After calling on Vega to ask a question, he joked that she was not expecting to get called on.
“She’s shocked that I picked her, she’s in a state of shock,” Trump said. Vega waited to be handed the microphone, and either said “I’m not — thank you, Mr. President” or “I’m not thinking, Mr. President” as she stood up and glanced at her notes. Trump clearly thought she said the latter.
“It’s okay, I know you’re not thinking, you never do,” he said.
“I’m sorry?” Vega said, before Trump prodded her to ask her question, which was about the White House limiting the scope of the FBI investigation into Kavanaugh. Trump then steamrolled her, asking, “what does that have to do with trade?”
He refused to take any questions about Kavanaugh until he spoke more about the new trade deal between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Moments later, Trump scolded CNN’s Kaitlan Collins for attempting to ask a question about the limited scope of the probe. The two sparred briefly, before Collins’ line of questioning was cut off and she was forced to hand the microphone to another reporter who had questions about Trump’s new trade agreement.
“Don’t do that, that’s not nice,” he said.
Trump eventually took both Vega’s and Collins’ questions about Kavanaugh and the FBI probe into allegations of sexual assault against him, but interrupted Collins when he thought her turn was over.
“You’ve had enough,” he said.
While their questions weren’t about Kavanaugh, Trump was brusque with two other female reporters during the presser on Monday.
One woman asked him to clarify the comments he had made about Democrats not being “angels.”
“No, I think I’ll save it for a book like everybody else and I’ll write it, okay? I’m not giving it to you,” he said.
Trump also asked cut off another female reporter who asked him about the failure to follow through with a ban on bump stocks.
“No, you’re wrong about that,” he said.
We’ve always known that Trump has a problem with women being anything other than subservient or his target for sexual gratification, but after last Thursday when Prof. Christine Blasey Ford gave testimony in a calm and measured manner as compared to the dramatics and high dudgeon of Judge Kavanaugh, it’s obvious he’s taking out his frustration on women. They’re ruining his nice he-men women-are-chattel club!
Polling indicates that women voters are going to return the favor in droves next month, and if he has to run against a woman for re-election, he’s going to be even worse than he is now, which is saying something.
Trump is not the only one attacking women. Sen Tom Cotton (R-AR) — whose name evokes a character from “The Hobbit” — has issues with them as demonstrated by his concern-trolling for Prof. Ford. Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post:
Right-wing male politicians such as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) have the audacity to declare that Ford has been victimized … by Democrats. (Maybe ask her?) Even if you thought that, why would anyone say such a stunningly condescending thing? Telling someone who has said she is the victim of a sexual assault whom she should and should not hold responsible for her pain represents a new low in Senate Republicans’ twisted exercise in blame-shifting.
Living as we do, on what is—as hard as it may be to believe—the first anniversary of Donald Trump in power, we find ourselves caught in a quarrel between Trump optimists and Trump pessimists, and one proof of how right the Trump pessimists have been is that the kind of thing that the Trump optimists are now saying ought to make you optimistic. Basically, their argument amounts to the claim that the stock market remains up, the government isn’t suspended, and the President’s critics aren’t in internment camps. In the pages of The Economist, as in the columns of the Times, one frequently reads some form of this not-very-calming reassurance: Trump may be an enemy of republican government, and a friend to tyrants, while alienating our oldest friends in fellow-democracies, but while he may want to be a tyrant, he isn’t very good at being one. This is the Ralph Kramden account of Trumpism: he blusters and threatens and shakes and rages, but Alice, like the American people, just stands there and shrugs him off sardonically.
Those in the Trump-pessimist camp are inclined to point out not only that the final score is not in yet but that the game has only just started. In real life, as opposed to fifties sitcoms, the Ralph Kramdens tend to act on their instincts. Trump’s Justice Department has already reopened an investigation of his political opponent, after he loudly demanded it—itself a chilling abuse of power. And if, as seems probable, Trump tries to fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel on the Russia investigation, we will be in the midst of a crisis of extreme dimensions.
But, even in the absence of overt criminality, Trump pessimists may also point to how degraded our discourse has already become—how the processes variously called “normalization” or “acceptance” or just “silent stunned disbelief” go on. We know that Trump fired James Comey, the F.B.I. director, because he wanted him to stop investigating contacts between members of Trump’s campaign and Russia—and Trump announced this fact in public, despite having had subordinates come up with more plausible-sounding rationales for him to cling to. And surely no one can doubt that, had Hillary Clinton become President and, say, a meeting had then been discovered to have taken place between members of her campaign and a mysterious visitor from an autocratic foreign power offering information designed to subvert democracy, with an accompanying e-mail from Chelsea Clinton saying “Love it!,” we would now be in the midst of Clinton’s impeachment hearings, with the supposedly liberal press defending her faintly, if at all.
Meanwhile, the insults to democratic practice continue. In any previous Administration, reports that the resident of the White House had paid off a porn star to be silent about an alleged affair would be a defining—and, probably, Presidency-ending—scandal. With Trump, Stormy Daniels hardly registers at all as a figure, so dense and thick on the ground are the outrages and the indignities, so already bizarre is the cast of characters. (It’s as if we have been watching some newly discovered season of “The Sopranos,” what with the Mooch and Sloppy Steve. Who now can even quite recall poor Sean Spicer?)
Worse still, in a sense, is the degradation of memory that this circus enforces. Not long ago, Bret Stephens, who left the Wall Street Journal for the Times and has been an admirable mainstay of the anti-Trumpist movement among conservatives, wrote a touching piece about his father, and the decency of the values that he exemplified, especially when it came to the treatment of women, in the workplace and outside it. “Our culture could sorely use a common set of ideas about male decorum and restraint in the 21st century, along with role models for those ideas,” Stephens wrote. “Who, in the age of Trump, is teaching boys why not to grope—even when they can, even when ‘you can do anything’?” But nowhere did Stephens acknowledge that, less than a year ago, America did have, in President Barack Obama, a near-perfect model of male decorum and restraint, who in his own behavior and words taught boys how to be men who honored and respected women.
The point is not that what Obama did was necessarily always admirable, but that amnesia about even the very recent past has become essential to the most decent conservative politics; only by making the national emergency general and cross-party can it be fully shared rather than, as it should be, localized to the crisis of one party and its ideology. In plain English, it becomes necessary to spread the smell around so that everyone gets some of the stink on them. This is why we have to read so much undue hand-wringing about our national crisis in civic values and family piety rather than recognize the abandonment of republican values that began when the mainstays of the conservative party decided to embrace Trump instead of—as their French equivalents had done, when confronted with the same choice between an authoritarian nationalist and a moderate centrist —reject him. It is always appealing rhetorically to insist that all of us are at fault. We’re not. The attempts to pretend that the Trump era is part of some national, or even planetary, crisis, stretching out from one end of the political spectrum to the other, obscures the more potent reality. Had Mitt Romney and the Bushes not merely protested, or grumbled in private, about Trump but openly endorsed Hillary Clinton as the necessary alternative to the unacceptable, we might be living in a different country. For that matter, if, during the past year, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell had summoned patriotism in the face of multiple threats to the norms of democratic conduct, then we might not be in this mess. They didn’t, and we are.
Needless to say, the degradation of public discourse, the acceleration of grotesque lying, the legitimization of hatred and name-calling, are hard to imagine vanishing like the winter snows that Trump thinks climate change is supposed to prevent. The belief that somehow all these things will somehow just go away in a few years’ time does seem not merely unduly optimistic but crazily so. In any case, the trouble isn’t just what the Trumpists may yet do; it is what they are doing now. American history has already been altered by their actions—institutions emptied out, historical continuities destroyed, traditions of decency savaged—in ways that will not be easy to rehabilitate.
And yet there are grounds for optimism. Institutions may crumble, but more might yet be saved. Restoration may be no more than two good elections and a few steady leaders away, as long as the foundational institutions of democracy—really, no more than fair voting and counting, but no less than those, either—remain in place. Political results are far more often contingent than overdetermined, much more to do with accident and personality than with irresistible tides of history. This is what makes them controllable. After all, not long ago a rational woman won the popular vote for President, rather easily, and only a bad electoral system prevented her from taking office. Part of the power of tyrants and would-be tyrants is to paralyze our self-confidence. The famous underground societies of the Eastern European countries, built under Soviet tyranny, were exercises not in heroism but in normalcy: we like this music, this food, these books, and no one can tell us what to think about them. What has happened is worse than we want to pretend. But it happened for highly specific and contingent causes, and the means of remedying them have not yet passed.
Meanwhile, our primary obligation may be simply not to blind ourselves to the facts, or to compromise our values in a desperate desire to embrace our fellow-citizens. Any anti-Trumpist movement must consist of the broadest imaginable coalition, but it cannot pretend that what we are having is a normal national debate. The reason people object, for instance, to the Times running a full page of Trump-defending letters is not that they want to cut off or stifle that debate; it is because the implication that Trumpism is a controversial but acceptable expression of American values within that debate is in itself a betrayal of those values. Liberal democracy is good. Authoritarian nationalism is bad. That’s the premise of the country. It’s the principle that a lot of people died for. Americans never need to apologize for the continuing absolutism of their belief in it.
More than 100,000 protesters showed up on a warm, sunny day in New York to celebrate the anniversary of the Women’s March protests that followed Donald Trump’s inauguration as president last year. But in contrast with last year’s events, this year’s gathering was optimistic, almost celebratory. The pink pussy cat hats were out; so were the signs (“A Women’s Place Is in the Revolution,” “Grab ‘Em By the Putin,” “Shed Walls, Don’t Build Them”). Couples danced to a brassy tunes floating from somewhere down the block.
Last year, more than 400,000 protesters clogged Fifth Avenue and descended upon Trump Tower, according to the Mayor’s Office. That event was just one of the hundreds that comprised one of the largest single days of protest in U.S. history, with more than 3 million people estimated to have participated, according to crowd-size experts. No matter that the Women’s March on Washington, the original event, was borne from a single Facebook post and organized entirely ad-hoc. People then were coming together for one reason: to protest the election of Donald Trump. This year, more than 300 towns and cities across the U.S. have registered for events.
The president, for his part, needled the protesters with a tweet.
“Beautiful weather all over our great country, a perfect day for all Women to March,” President Trump tweeted. “Get out there now to celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 12 months. Lowest female unemployment in 18 years!”
But for the protesters, these Women’s Marches aren’t just about opposing the president; for many, they’re about joining in a moment of cultural upheaval around issues of sexual abuse. When I spoke with Winnie Whitted, who attended the march in Austin, Texas, last year, she put it like this: “I think that #MeToo is the reason why women are coming together this year. This is now really a women’s march.”
The #MeToo movement, which was sparked by the revelation of multiple rape and sexual harassment allegations against the powerful Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein in October 2017, continues to be a central part of the national debate over sexual abuse.
Since Weinstein’s downfall, many other prominent figures in media and entertainment have faced allegations of sexual abuse and harassment as women across those industries have spoken up about their experiences. It’s no surprise, then, that #MeToo and #TimesUp signs featured prominently amongst the anti-Trump ones at the march. One protester, Kirsten Herman, was holding a large black one above her head when I spoke with her. She didn’t come to last year’s march, because she “has lots” of crowd anxiety. “But I knew I had to come this year,” she said. Harassment “is such a universal thing that women have to go through all the time, and we’re done with it.”
I asked Sarah Sibilly, who marched last year, what had changed from last year to this year. “Definitely more men,” she said. “They’re probably here in solidarity more than anything.”
Daniel Robinson was one of those men. He didn’t participate last year, but said that #MeToo was the galvanizing factor this time around. “I didn’t necessarily recognize [the issue of sexual harassment] to the same degree,” he told me. “But there’s a lot more understanding of what’s going on, and realizing the importance of it really brings everyone to the forefront.”
Cindy Brummer brought her husband, Bob, along with her to the march, which neither of them attended last year. Trump “brings out the feminist” in her, she told me. She thought she had seen the end of the fight for women’s rights in the seventies, but looking at the younger generation now, she says, makes it clear that the fight is far from over.
Others I spoke with cited the nation’s current sexual-harassment reckoning as an even greater reason to protest the president, whom 19 women have accused of sexual assault. Whitted called it “crazy” that men in Hollywood, the media, and politics were getting fired while “this guy is still in office.”
Where last year’s marches were simply a rejection of Trump, this year’s events were electorally focused. The Women’s March on Washington anniversary event planned for Sunday in Las Vegas, Nevada, is being billed as “Power to the Polls” and aims to get people to register and vote ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. Virtually everyone I spoke with said Democratic success in the midterms is their biggest political goal in the coming year, and see the march as a good starting point to start encouraging people to show up to polls.
Following last year’s marches, my colleague Conor Friedersdorf wrote, “The political future depends on where Trump opponents focus their energy and whether they are adept at expanding their coalition.” This year did indeed see more women than ever before sign up to run for office, and a record 28 women were elected to Virginia’s House of Delegates in the November 2017 elections. New public-opinion research conducted by SurveyMonkey also shows that Trump is losing ground amongst women—regardless of race or class—who previously supported him, a trend which will likely be consequential in the 2018 congressional midterms if it holds up.
The crucial work for the marchers still lies ahead; it’s unclear if the momentum will hold. But protesters were still hopeful: “Here we are a year later, doing it again,” one marcher, Emma Saltzberg, said. “It shows we’re here to fight and we’ll push for people to vote. You have to if you want to see change in the future.”
In other political news, the Charleston City Paper informs us that Stormy Daniels is visiting a strip club in Greenville tonight:
The club is promoting the event as part of Daniels’ “Making America Horny Again Tour” days after the Wall Street Journal reported that candidate Donald Trump paid her $130,000 through a shell company one month before the 2016 election to cover up an alleged 2006 affair. Daniels is said to have signed a non-disclosure agreement as part of the alleged payoff, but years earlier she reportedly spilled all the salacious details to InTouch Magazine about having sex with the future president…”He saw her live. You can too,” reads one poster for the event posted on The Trophy Club’s Facebook page, referring to President Donald Trump’s alleged sexual encounter with the porn star. A YouTube video promoted by the club says “The Twitter Storm Sensation” is visiting for a “one-night performance.”
The first day of the government shutdown is also the anniversary of the inauguration of the president*, and if that doesn’t convince you that a Higher Power is running things, and that the Higher Power has a sense of humor best described as perverse, I don’t know what to tell you. A year ago, he stood before an embarrassingly small crowd on the steps of the Capitol and gave the worst inaugural address in American history, even worse than the one that actually killed William Henry Harrison. A year ago Sunday, he sent his press secretary out to lie about the size of the crowd, and we were pretty much off to a year of actual American carnage.
The most striking thing about the extended burlesque in the Senate as Friday night became Saturday morning was the almost complete lack of urgency in the chamber. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, now presiding over his second government shutdown, held the cloture vote on the House’s continuing resolution open for hours after it had clearly failed, and in a resoundingly bipartisan manner.
As minutes became hours, ad hoc bipartisan groups of senators—Lindsey Graham, Jeff Flake, Maggie Hassan and Elizabeth Warren?—gathered and dispersed, like small flocks of birds, but there was no real sense that a real emergency was going on around them. There was an endless trail of rumored deals—A two-week CR? Three weeks? Pledges to deal with the Dreamer kids later?—and an equally endless train of broken promises.
“The bottom line is that time only matters if there’s will,” said Lindsey Graham, as he briefly held out hope for a three-week funding compromise that he was pushing. “I may live to eat these words, but the Congress is beginning to realize that the American people expect more of us. Between the soldier in the field and the DACA recipient, we have some real-world reasons to get our act together and grow up, I may be wrong, but I think we’re getting there.”
He was wrong. According to Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, the last real chance went a’glimmering on Friday when he spent a lot of time negotiating with the president*, and even offered a substantial concession regarding the president*’s stupid wall, only to have White House chief-of-staff John Kelly call him to tell him the framework under discussion was too liberal.
What became clear was that a) that there is a serious faction that wants the Dreamer kids out of the country, and that this faction includes Kelly, who apparently has been appointed President For Immigration Matters, xenophobic madman Stephen Miller, and Senator Tom Cotton, the bobble-throated slapdick from Arkansas, and b) that the president* himself has decided to decide by not deciding, and to lead by not leading, and that he believes the essence of being presidential is agreeing to deals that Kelly will talk him into reneging the first time he gets the president*’s ear.
Maybe gushing about a guy just because he once was a general wasn’t the best idea professional pundits ever had. Kelly’s tenure as Secretary of Homeland Security, during which he unleashed ICE to run amuck, should have hipped us all to that. As for the fact that the president* has abdicated his obligation to lead, and that his word in negotiations is not to be trusted, hell, everybody’s used to that by now. Which is probably why nobody seemed to be in any rush to get anything solved.
So, no deal was reached. Nothing happened. McConnell finally closed out the vote. And, as Saturday dawned, both Houses remained in session. The president*, or someone like him, got out the electric Twitter machine.
So the “DACA kids” are now “illegal immigrants,” and the guy who killed at least two deals in the past 10 days is complaining about how nobody wants to negotiate with him. His alleged former inamorata is doing a VIP show at a strip club not far from the godfearing campus of Bob Jones University And we have had a year of this now, a year in which we’ve all been living in what the nuns used to call, “the near occasions of sin.” Things are looking up!
Ross Douthat is blaming Harvey Weinstein’s crimes on the 1970’s and Hugh Hefner.
The coarse worldview I’ve called “Hefnerism” endured, as the victims of Weinstein and Bill Clinton and Donald Trump can well attest. But while feminism struggled to restrain it, in the educated classes some restraint has been imposed. And the worldview you might call Polanski-ism, which winked at the use and abuse of teenagers, became disreputable and then generally condemned.
Moreover this relative-to-the-1970s restraint has held lately, at least provisionally, even as we’ve gone through an aftershock of that social revolution, in which religion has waned some more and permissiveness increasingly dominates opinion polls. Old-fashioned mores are not coming back — but neither, for now, is the wild erotic acting-out of the ’70s, their often-cruel dionysianism.
No, actually it started long before that — check with the women of Hollywood in the 1930’s — and it wasn’t just Hollywood and Hefner. It was the updated macho bullshit culture that was a backlash against the rise of feminism of the 1960’s. And it involved a lot of so called “family values” men and their enablers who hit back.
Ross Douthat was born in 1979, so his recollection of the time is based on purely what he’s read in the history books, which are still being written, or re-runs of “That ’70’s Show.” Either way, it helps if you were actually there before using the collective “we.”
(For what it’s worth, I remember the ’70’s as being far more restrained and refined than the 1960’s. But that’s just me.)
I’m not at all surprised that Trump tweeted what he did about Mika Brzezinski; misogyny is as much a part of his character as his lying, the dye job and the skin bronzer. It was an almost everyday occurrence during the campaign, and the tape on the bus with Billy Bush was no surprise. Gross, boorish, vulgar, and childish, but no surprise. And now that he’s in the White House, seeing it in full flower like we did yesterday just confirms it.
It was especially amusing in a sardonic way to see all the pearl-clutching by the Republicans on Capitol Hill as they did their Captain Renault routine of being shocked, shocked that Trump treats women that way. But anyone who’s paid the slightest attention knew this was just another day on Twitter for him.
As Michelle Goldberg notes in Slate, it’s actually a good thing that he’s out in the open about it.
I’m not sure that even well-intentioned men understand how relentlessly degrading this presidency is for many women. Having a man who does not recognize the humanity of more than half the population in a position of such power is a daily insult; it never really goes away. Perhaps this is why many women found the TV version of The Handmaid’s Tale so resonant, even though Trump, the former owner of a casino strip club, is the last person one can imagine instituting a Calvinist theocracy. Gilead’s fictional dystopia captures our constant incredulous horror at finding ourselves ruled by thuggish, unaccountable woman-haters who appear to revel in their own impunity.
If there is the barest sliver of consolation, it’s that Trump appears almost as miserable and anxiety-ridden as we are. He’s losing the tiny bit of control he had. It’s better for Trump to show us all who he really is than to let his lackeys pretend he’s remotely worthy of his office. Every time he tweets, he reveals his presidency as a disgusting farce. Let’s hope he keeps doing it.
My one fear is that this farce will become the new normal; that instead of being reviled by it, some will say that it’s refreshing that we no longer have to worry about being “politically correct” and that if the president can be a total dick, then so can anyone… if you’re twelve.
If that is the case, then we owe it not just to women but to civilization to fight back, to make it unacceptable, and to remind the sycophants who think it’s perfectly okay to degrade women now that they were the same ones who were incensed and outraged by the behavior of Bill Clinton and who plastered the airwaves with “character counts” and wailed about “what do we tell the children?”
It took a grand jury and leaked surreptitious wiretaps to reveal Clinton’s bad behavior. This toad brags about it.