Opinion: Trump Is a Misogynist’s Ideal Feminist

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I wouldn’t describe Hillary Clinton as a particularly sympathetic character. And yet, I feel for her.

The most humiliating moments of her life—her husband’s infidelity, her loss to the least qualified presidential candidate in history—are never quite out of the news. And ever since a jury of his peers found Donald Trump guilty on 34 felony counts, the familiar chant of “lock her up” has had a pronoun swap. As liberals call for Trump to be locked up (he likely won’t be, but a lib can dream), we’re reminded of those same calls in 2016.

In one of his more egregious lies, Trump recently denied ever having said “lock her up.” This is absurd, as there’s video evidence. His lies are too blatant to waste time discussing the veracity: the only interesting question is why.

Why does Trump not want to take credit for a phrase his supporters love? Why is he now trying to distance himself from it?

The most obvious reason is that he’s accusing Democrats of politicizing the justice system, and he doesn’t want to be called a hypocrite. But there’s more. Trump wants people to believe he’s kinder to women than he is, and Clinton is just the latest example.

These days, Trump is taking steps to paint himself as pro-women. This seems odd, given that a) he’s not and b) he himself denies being a feminist. But he’s also running for re-election, and he needs all the votes he can get.

Of course, nothing he’s done has turned him into anything resembling a feminist. But he also hasn’t entirely failed. He’s turned himself into a misogynist’s idea of a feminist.

A recent poll found that 54 percent of men and 31 percent of women think Trump respects women “a lot” or “some.” Some of the explanations were inane; one person said that Trump was a “developer,” and because “real estate, as a whole, is predominantly women-run,” he had to respect women. I have nothing to say, it’s a perfect argument.

I’m hesitant to make much of this statistic, because I think respecting women “some” is a lot like not respecting women at all. Still, there’s indisputable disparity in how men and women view Trump’s respect for women, and there’s an indisputable change: In 2016, a poll asking a similar question found that approximately the same percentage of men and woman thought he had “fair” or “a great deal of” respect for women.

There’s a reason Trump may have some people duped.

He has backed off his most extreme positions—he declined to endorse a national abortion ban, he criticized the Alabama Supreme Court for making IVF less available, and he said he won’t ban contraceptives. Of course, pro-choice (which he is not) and pro-IVF policies are good for women, but Trump’s so blatantly full of shit that only someone who has flattened women down to a few policy preferences could buy this recent shift.

If he can use women to make himself look good, he will. He said himself that he likes the “concept” of a female running mate.

Which is essentially the same as saying: Women: Better in Theory Than Practice.

But there’s no policy Trump can propose that changes the way he actually treats women. He sexually assaulted E. Jean Carroll (which a judge later determined could be reasonably described as “rape”). Stormy Daniels didn’t categorize her encounter with Trump as rape, but it was horrifying—and he said she has a horse face. He bragged about grabbing women by the pussies. He called Hillary Clinton ugly. The list goes on, and on, and on.

The effect of his personal behavior is enormous, but it’s not as tangible as a specific policy. I can’t describe what it did to me to wake up every four years and know my president openly hated women, but I know it took its toll. Trump’s not the first president guilty of disrespectful behavior towards women (I grew up during the Clinton administration), but in my lifetime, he is far and away the most brazen.

And still, compared to the rest of his party, his views on reproductive freedoms aren’t in the crazier half (a low bar, but one he clears).

To a misogynist, it might be easy enough to boil Trump down to his policies and say women want a candidate who thinks X, Y, and Z. But to everyone else, it’s clear why Trump’s behavior is so harmful to women. He has no respect for women, so there’s no reason to expect him to stick to any specific policy agenda. And plenty of men understand this—not all men are misogynists, after all, and 46 percent in the poll admitted Trump had limited or no respect for women.

It’s not a matter of asking which is worse: a man who does horrible things to women or a man whose policies are horrible to women. Trump is both, and we shouldn’t have to choose. He may be a misogynist’s idea of a feminist, but that’s not going to cut it.

This post was originally published on Daily Beast

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