Column: The GOP’s misogyny problem is bigger than Trump
There’s something almost sweet about the way Democrats and establishment Republicans are coming together over their shared disgust with Donald Trump. Unable to find common ground on even the most basic issues (for instance, the constitutionality of nominating a Supreme Court justice during an election year), they have finally identified a mutual enemy and are piling on with rare bipartisan vigor.
Trump’s defects by now can be recited as easily as the alphabet. He’s a bully, a blowhard, an unabashed liar and a race baiter if not an actual racist. He appears to know little about domestic policy and less about foreign policy. He incites violence at his rallies. On Tuesday, his campaign manager was charged with misdemeanor battery for grabbing a reporter at a campaign event in Florida.
But is Trump a misogynist or just a cheesy blowhard who values in women the same gaudy qualities he values in everything else? His tastes in home décor, for instance, seem to have been shaped chiefly by “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” (He has a penchant for marble, gold and reproductions of Greek statues.) His hair and complexion suggest a weakness for infomercial products.
What’s more, his claims of championing and promoting women in his company aren’t necessarily wrong. At the very least, there are apparently well-paid women in executive positions in the Trump Organization, and there’s no getting past the fact that he puts great stock in his eldest daughter. As the Trump Organization’s executive vice president of development and acquisitions, Wharton Business School grad Ivanka Trump has been her father’s right hand on “The Apprentice” and appears to have received far more professional grooming than her brothers, who also work for him.
Trump’s grotesqueness is an equal opportunity deal.
For some, the definition of misogyny might be as slippery as former Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of pornography: “I know it when I see it.” But to me, the Oxford Dictionary’s definition — “hatred or dislike of, or prejudice against women” — seems pretty accurate. And it doesn’t describe Trump, who is merely prejudiced against women he finds unattractive or who cross him.
Is being a crude, shallow boor when it comes to women tantamount to being a misogynist? Not when you’re also a crude, shallow boor when it comes to men as well. Trump’s grotesqueness is an equal opportunity deal. Besides, being a genuine misogynist would require having a genuine point of view, which Trump seems to lack about everything except his own superlativeness. In fact, labeling him a misogynist almost gives him too much credit; it assumes some kind of core belief system.
And then there’s Fox News itself, which, by way of defending Kelly’s honor, decried Trump’s “endless barrage of crude and sexist assaults.” Keep in mind that this network’s paranoia about powerful women extended to the Disney movie “Frozen,” which it suggested was a vehicle for mocking and demonizing men.
Misogynist or not, there’s little dispute that Trump is an opportunist. He may not hate women, but he sure is tapping into the anger and anxiety of many who do. That’s dangerous, but so is allowing the overt, clownish sexism employed by Trump to obscure the more insidious brand of his GOP counterparts. Because bullying comments are nothing compared to bullying laws.
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