The Misogyny Card

As I noted a good year ago, Donald Trump has made a blatant and multifaceted appeal to the less than college educated white males who feel disenfranchised by industrial automation and by the offshoring of once high-paid semi-skilled jobs. Call that the disenfranchised white male card.

What has been part of this appeal, but largely overlooked, or thought to be merely a by-product of Trump’s boorishness and crudity, is a pervasive attack on and minimization of women, particularly intelligent professional women. I’ve seen too many “Trump the Bitch” bumper stickers to believe that his attack on women is merely macho boorishness, although it’s certainly that. Widespread bumper stickers aren’t the product of lone wolves.

Why else do I think that Trump’s use of the “misogyny card” is deliberate? Because of who happens to be replacing those “disenfranchised” white males. As jobs for semi-skilled white males have dwindled, the numbers of higher paid jobs for women, particularly educated women, have increased (if not enough in my opinion). And in many ways, Hillary Clinton is one of the first of those women to take on directly the last citadels of male privilege… and, sorry to say, all too many men, particularly white men with less than a college education, don’t like powerful women.

The attack on Hillary Clinton for her “lying” and “untrustworthiness” amounts to a proxy attack on women in general. After all, is Trump exactly the paragon of truthfulness and integrity? He’s lied time and time again, and he’s certainly not trustworthy in business deals. Yet there’s almost no furor about Trump’s lying and untrustworthiness.

Why not? Because it’s not newsworthy? Or for some other reason?

Men, again, like it or not, have created an image of women as more deceptive and secretive than men. Yet, for example, more men than women have extra-marital affairs. Interestingly enough, as more and more married women work and have come to earn more money and power, the percentage of married women who cheat has increased. Obviously, this is a form of “power” and is just another movement toward gender equality that grates on at least a certain percentage of men, and not just those who have less education.

Over a career that spans fifty years in the military, in business, and in government, I’ve seen, time after time, the good old boys and their attacks on competent women. For some reason, what men do in government and business is just fine for them, but not for women. Years ago, after I’d just promoted a woman over several male colleagues, one of them cautioned me that she was “ambitious and out for herself,” totally ignoring the fact that all the male candidates were every bit as blatantly ambitious. She did just fine, and in fact, far better than those who succeeded her when she finally moved on. When women are attacked for doing what men do in the same field, same time, and same way, and the “boys” aren’t, it’s misogyny.

And that’s what Trump’s doing, and what the media is doing is letting him get away with it. But then, after the Roger Ailes scandal, why should we expect anything else?

15 thoughts on “The Misogyny Card”

  1. Frank says:

    I agree with you underlying point(s) and the general thrust of you post. I would take exception with one point:

    “The attack on Hillary Clinton for her “lying” and “untrustworthiness” amounts to a proxy attack on women in general.”

    While I agree that this accusation is an example of applying a standard grossly unevenly, in that Trump never seems to be called to task for all his use of lying and examples of untrustworthiness, I can’t go with the statement that it amounts to a proxy against women in general. I think there is a real point to be made about Hillary and those weaknesses in her history. I believe at least some of her detractors in this regard are just calling like they see it.

    The real shame of this election is the choice being offered, or lack thereof. I’ve reconciled myself to voting “against” the worst of the two evils, but never in my voting experience, which started with the 1972 Presidential elections, has there been so poor a choice. The two major parties should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves, or, maybe we, the electorate, should be ashamed that we have allowed this deterioration to reach this level.

    Where is Harry Truman when you need him?

    1. While there in fact may be a real point about Hillary’s “weaknesses in her history,” I still will contend that the attack in effect amounts to an anti-woman campaign in the sense that it calls up all the double-standards so long applied to women in a negative fashion and thus appeals to the “masculine” macho prejudices of too many men, and it is doing so quite effectively.

      1. Frank says:

        The attack(s) that Trump and his camp make I would agree amount to that. My comment is only that some may reasonably criticize her without such malice.

        1. You’re absolutely right about that, but so long as that criticism is one-sided, and Trumps’s failings in the same areas are ignored, it amounts to, at the least, unconscious misogyny.

      2. Amy says:

        We each view the world from our own perspective, and from mine, Donald Trump has been accused of lying and untrustworthiness with zeal by both the Clinton campaign and the press.

        I am a middle class white woman: I find both candidates abhorrent for a multitude of reasons. I also believe Hillary Clinton has taken deceitful actions and untrustworthiness to new levels. I am not saying this as an attack on all women – I’m saying it as an attack against Hillary Clinton.

        I would love for us to elect a woman to the Office of the President. I think Hillary is probably the worst possible woman for the job, and what a terrible representative for the women of this country. More importantly, what a horrible potential role model for our daughters.

        1. At this point, Hillary Clinton is the only woman who has ever had a reasonable chance at becoming President. Perhaps you just might ask why she’s the only one. From your perspective, you feel she’s a terrible representative for the women of the United States and a terrible role model. That, I think, illustrates clearly exactly what your perspective is.

          1. Amy says:

            I honestly wish I knew why she is the only woman who has gotten this far. Perhaps, to your original point, she’s the first one “man enough” to make it. I concur Trump has a lengthy history of belittling/ attacking women. He’s a frightening a choice to run this country for this and many other reasons.

            That said, Hillary being attacked for being a liar and untrustworthy does not mean that by proxy the attack is against all women. That’s a ridiculous comment, made by a smart man, in a clear attempt to inflame passions and stir debate.

            It worked.

  2. darcherd says:

    Much of Trump’s appeal, indeed his slogan “Make America Great Again”, is a vague promise to restore some idealized social order of yesteryear, i.e. restoring the privileged position of white males in society. For some strange reason, women, minorities and gays don’t regard that same period with the some kind of nostalgia.

  3. Autumn says:

    I think you’re giving Trump too much credit by calling it a “deliberate” attack. I think he’s just a product of the good old boys club you mentioned, complete with its accepted, unexamined prejudices.

    Deliberate implies either a greater level of self-awareness — or even awareness! — than I think the man is capable of reaching.

    The Washington Post and other news outlets have all been pointing fingers at HRC this week and screaming, “See?! See?! She has walking pneumonia and didn’t tell us! Once again, her secrecy and paranoia are killing her campaign!” But given the way her actions are completely picked apart by the media (while Matt Lauer gives Trump multiple passes on lying), why would she be forthcoming with any information?

    Just because she’s paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get her. (Never tell anyone I quoted Nixon.)

  4. Alan says:

    It’s a real problem, certainly. My opinion is that Trump, when let off the leash by his advisors, is far too much like a five year old. He speaks off the cuff without consideration for the results of his words, trying to be hurtful. He lashes out at anyone who pokes at him. Not a trait we want in a head of state. He makes grand promises that are clearly never going to happen in an effort that is likely to appeal to the least educated and most easily influenced groups he can reach.

    Hillary is clearly a liar in many ways. Her handling of confidential information and lack of a memory of events is particularly troubling. A number of military personnel have gone to prison or lost their jobs for doing far far less than she has. Military personnel have annual training for information security which is heavily documented and quite readily used against them whenever they make a mistake concerning handling of confidential information. I don’t find her health any more troubling than I find Trump’s lack of release of tax records. Neither of them is poor and both of them are far out of touch with the common person.

    The commentary about the press is very subjective, depending on whom it is you watch. MSN, for instance, is very quick to criticize Trump, and far slower to speak poorly of Hillary. The same can be said for CNN. Each news group presents what their guidance directs. A study from my statistics class showed that of all news agencies, NPR was the most likely to provide (statistically) accurate and least-biased (not unbiased) views of news.

  5. darcherd says:

    Interesting. I’d always considered NPR a bit left-of-center, with CNN straddling the middle. Although down here in Texas, I’ve heard CNN referred to as the “Communist News Network”, so I guess one’s perspective varies depending on where one falls on the political spectrum themselves.
    The real victim in this election is Truth itself. It used to be said that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but no one is entitled to their own facts. But even that seems no longer valid, as people seem to be willing to cling to “facts” that are demonstrably untrue. In fact, a study cited in the current issue of The Economist notes that for many (conservatives in particular) being presented with clear facts that refute their belief makes them dig in still further, claiming conspiracies.

  6. John Prigent says:

    The misogyny card is also played by women. In the UK system the opposition party has its own versions of Cabinet Ministers, called shadows because they’re supposed tp shadow the Government party’s people in case of winning a sudden election. Our shadow Foreign Secretary pulled a hissy fit in a TV interview when she was called out for not knowing the name of the office holder she’d have to talk to in one of the big three EU countries; she said it was unfair prejudice against women to expect her to know that name.

    1. Tim says:

      @John Prigent. And Emily was pilloried for it in the British press the next day and rightly so.

      1. John Prigent says:

        True, Tim. But she did play the card.

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