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, they have finally identified a mutual enemy and are piling on with rare bipartisan vigor.
Trump’s defects by now can be recited easily. 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 his signature bad quality is misogyny. Trump hates woman, we are told.
Last week, Trump tweeted an unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz, wife of rival Ted Cruz, with a glamour shot of his own wife, a former model. His feud with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly is now almost a plank in his platform. Married three times, he has bragged about his affairs.
But is Trump a misogynist or just a cheesy blowhard who values in women the same gaudy qualities he values in everything else?
What’s more, his claims of promoting women in his company aren’t necessarily wrong. There are apparently well-paid women in executive positions in the Trump Organization, andhe 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” – seemsaccurate. 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. In fact, labeling him a misogynist almost gives him too much credit; it assumes some kind of core belief system.
But here’s who does have a core belief system about women: Many Republicans who are hypocritically calling out Trump as a woman hater. They’re men like Cruz, who has consistently voted against laws that would allow women access to reproductive health services.
And then there’s Fox News, 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, Trump is an opportunist. He may not hate women, but he 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.