Op-Ed: It takes a village to raise a misogynistic monster like Donald Trump

Miss Universe Alicia Machado, left, and Donald Trump chat at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla., on Feb. 15, 1997.
Miss Universe Alicia Machado, left, and Donald Trump chat at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla., on Feb. 15, 1997.
(Lannis Waters / Associated Press)
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By now, you’ve seen the tape of Donald Trump and Billy Bush talking during a 2005 Access Hollywood taping. Here’s an excerpt:

Trump: Yeah, that’s her, with the gold. I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. I just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

For the record:

4:03 a.m. July 25, 2024This article originally referred to Ivana Trump as Ivanka Trump. It also stated that the Central Park Five were wrongfully convicted of murder. It was attempted murder.

Unidentified voice: Whatever you want.


Trump: Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.

[crosstalk and chuckling]

Unidentified voice: Yeah those legs, all I can see is the legs.

Trump: Oh, it looks good.

There are other presidential lines (“I did try and fuck her. She was married,” “She’s now got the big phony tits”), but this exchange — the pussy-grabbing section, so to speak — was the shot heard round the world.

Trump is a notorious philanderer. He’s been repeatedly accused of sexually assaulting women. So, what’s new here?


All right: “pussy.” His word, not mine, but let’s not be precious about it. That’s what he said. It’s one of a handful of words that’ll make you drop your fork at the dinner table.

And: He’s been caught admitting to — actually bragging about — assaulting women. All of Trump’s supporters who have written off his past accusers as creative gold diggers will have a harder time arguing with his own words.

But the truly revelatory aspect of the video is that it shows Trump in the environment that enables his behavior. There are two characters in the video that we’ve seen time and again: a dude kissing his rings and a woman leaning into her own objectification.

Sexist jackasses like Trump don’t exist in isolation; they need support from opportunists, willing to trade in whatever trace of public morality they have for private gain.

See: Billy Bush egging Trump on and fanning his ego. See: Arianne Zucker, the actress, flirting along when they ask for hugs. They’re either too weak or too afraid to speak back to the voice of power, even when that voice is indefensible.

It takes a village to create a misogynistic monster.

And it takes a party to create a misogynistic monster candidate.

Yes, just as Trump needed Billy Bushes and Arianne Zuckers in his private life, he’s needed spineless opportunist politicians in his quest for the presidency.


Just last week, I wrote about Trump’s cruelty to women, one of his improvised campaign’s only developed through lines. His ex-wife Ivana accused him of pulling her hair out and raping her; their divorce was granted on grounds of “cruel and inhuman treatment.” He’s been accused of sexually harassing innumerable employees.

Of course his abhorrent record goes beyond sexism and possible assault.

In 1973, Trump was brought to court for discriminating against black Americans. Months ago, Trump said a U.S. district judge was unfit to preside over his case because he was of Mexican heritage. Just this week, he reiterated his belief that the “Central Park Five” — a group of black and Latino youth wrongfully convicted in the 1989 rape and attempted murder of a jogger — are guilty, despite the fact that they were exonerated nearly 15 years ago on DNA evidence. Their case is viewed as a textbook example of a racially motivated miscarriage of justice.

None of this was enough to make the Republican leadership take a stand against Trump. At best, they conveyed disapproval even as they continued to support his candidacy. His virulent racism wasn’t enough. His extensively documented hatred of women wasn’t enough. They stood in line, greedily hoping for political appointments and support.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, RNC Chair Reince Priebus, Sen. John McCain, Sen. Ted Cruz — all of these men have either stayed neutral, cheered Trump on or both.

The tape has made some of these hangers-on flinch. They’ve denounced Trump’s words as inexcusable. Some Republicans, such as Sen. Mike Lee, have even called on Trump to step aside.


It’s too little, too late.

The Republican Party of 2016 cannot disengage so easily. They’ve been sitting in the proverbial bus the whole damn time, laughing at Trump’s jokes like Billy Bush. The GOP’s hateful party platform and desperation to promote a white American identity enabled the rise of a deeply revolting presidential candidate. The party bought and paid for this man — Trump the Racist, the Misogynist, the Assailant, the Liar, the Swindler — and now they own him. No returns accepted.

Melissa Batchelor Warnke is a contributing writer to Opinion. Follow her on Twitter @velvetmelvis.

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