Trump And The Triumph Of Feminism


Outlandish as it seems to say now, the time may soon come when women will be grateful for the all-out misogynistic campaign that Donald J. Trump has run.

Feminism is gaining substantial ground because of the despicable positions enunciated by the worst masculinist ever to be the presidential candidate of a major American party. How fitting it is that such a man-child should be the one to carry the thousands-of-years-old banner of male dominance into the field against the first woman major party presidential nominee in American history.

The fact that the Republican nominee is an extreme--indeed, maniacal--misogynist has far more to do with the unprecedented deficit that Mr. Trump is suffering among women voters than that his opponent is a woman. Mr. Trump isn't running against a particular woman. He isn't even just running against a woman becoming president. He is running against women and the revolutionary idea that they are equal to men. The election of the first female president will be a major milestone in American history, but it is the defeat of a man who has based his campaign on sexual assault, in the broad meaning of an attack by one sex on the equality, dignity, and even humanity of the other, that may raise the 2016 Election to the level of world-historic significance.

While Donald Trump has charged Hillary Clinton with "playing the Woman Card," what this momentous election has actually centered on is Mr. Trump playing the Anti-Woman card--or the "man" card--to arouse other males who, like Mr. Trump, are insecure in their manhood and feel threatened by the advances women have made in recent decades. When conservative commentator Tucker Carlson said of Hillary Clinton, "Something about her feels castrating," he was expressing an anxiety felt by millions of self-doubting men who prop themselves up with the crutch of putative male supremacy.

Trump's Essential Message:

"Prominent men on the edge of obsolescence have never acted so wounded, so angry, so desperate," Frank "Prominent men on the edge of obsolescence have never acted so wounded, so angry, so desperate." Frank Bruni pointed out in the New York Times earlier this week.

Mr. Trump couldn't stop himself from blurting out "such a nasty woman" in the third presidential debate because to him any woman who doesn't "know her place" as a subordinate is unacceptable. His rage at such women brings forth a similar uncontrollable wrath in his followers. When they scream "Kill the Bitch," they refer not so much to Hillary Clinton as to the archetypal Bitch--to all women who challenge the bastion of male authority. Though the vicious shouts at Trump rallies are expressed in the singular, their deeper meaning is plural: "Kill the Bitches!" When they scream "Lock Her Up!" they refer to all those "hers" who will not stay subordinated. They really mean "Lock them up!"--put them back in their cages.

2016-11-04-1478274569-6962780-LifesaBitchDontVoteforOne.jpg The Republican nominee's boasts about his ability to force himself on women and sexually assault them are, far from a reflection of his "manhood," a cover for his masculine insecurity, which is, of course, also evident in his felt need to brag before millions of television viewers about the size of his male organ. It resonates with other men who fear the effects of the loss of male control and are attracted to Mr. Trump's assertion of privilege, power and control over women. Following the release of the Access Hollywood tape, a Trump backer held up a sign that succinctly summarized the underlying drive of the Trump movement: "Better to grab a P***y than to Be one!"

2016-11-04-1478274782-7228527-BettertoGrabaPussythanBeone.jpg 2016-11-04-1478274864-6912836-FinallySomeonewithBallscropped.jpg

The appropriate response to the above sign is obvious:

Finally Someone WITH OVARIES!

As Charles M. Blow recently put it, Mr. Trump is "the logical extension of toxic masculinity and ambient misogyny. Trump is a natural, predictable endpoint." That toxic masculinity has existed throughout recorded history. Acute Masculine Insecurity Disorder is not listed in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but it should be. It has caused more harm throughout human history than has any other mental condition, and Donald Trump is a textbook case.

A likely response to the claim that the central feature of the Trump campaign is misogyny is that the Republican candidate is an equal opportunity degrader. He does not confine his contempt to women; he vilifies Latinos, African Americans, Muslims, immigrants, people with disabilities, prisoners of war, veterans, Gold Star mothers, people who work for him, his contractors, anyone with the temerity to say anything against him, and on and on. In short, he treats everyone he wants to demean the same way he treats women.

That is just the point. It is Mr. Trump's open treatment of everyone he disdainfully classifies as "losers" as women that potentially makes his campaign one of meta-historical significance. He is pulling back the curtain that has for so long obscured the fact that the axiomatic assumption of the superiority of male to female is the fundamental underlying motive force in human history and the model for the subjugation of all other groups and individuals labeled by those who assert dominance over them as inferior.

"Male supremacy is the oldest, most basic form of domination," Robin Morgan correctly wrote in the "Redstockings Manifesto" in 1970. "All other forms of exploitation and oppression . . . are extensions of male supremacy."

Donald Trump's seething hatred for women and his similar disdain for all "others" has taken us on a dive deep into the wreck of a human history based on the subordination of women of which Adrienne Rich wrote in 1972. He has made plain the truth of what Ms. Morgan wrote in "Goodbye to All That": the subjugation thousands of years ago of the female half of humanity "because it was 'different,' alien, the Other" made it "an easy enough step to extend the Other to someone of different skin shade, different height or weight or language--or strength to resist."

By so blatantly denigrating all women and treating almost everyone else the way he treats women, Donald Trump has significantly advanced feminism. It is almost as if he has been working from a list of all the things he could say that would demean all women so they would fully perceive their common plight and unite. He attacked Megyn Kelly by saying she had "blood coming out of her wherever" and ridiculed Hillary Clinton for her "disgusting" taking of time to go to the bathroom. He has mocked former Miss Universe Alicia Machado and many other women for being overweight. He rates women by beauty and says that the age of 35 is "check-out time" for a woman. All women menstruate. All urinate. Most have worried about their weight, looks, and age. His boasting of his power to grope women brought forth in the minds of millions of women terrible, long-repressed memories of such incidents in their own lives. He has shown a substantial majority of women that they all suffer from similar mistreatment by such insecure men as Mr. Trump. He could hardly have made it plainer that he views all women as objects, but the same is the case with everyone else who gets in his way. That realization on the part of a large number of men who have been demeaned by insecure males who try to humiliate them by using language that classifies them as women should bring many more men to see the wisdom of the feminist refrains, "Free Our Sisters! Free Ourselves!" and "Women's Liberation is Human Liberation."

On behalf of feminists, women, men secure enough to embrace sexual equality, and for a revolution against millennia of male dominance:

Thank you, Donald Trump for doing so much to advance everything you so totally oppose.

{Robert S. McElvaine teaches history at Millsaps College, is the author of Eve's Seed: Biology, the Sexes and the Course of History, and has just completed a draft of his first novel, "What It Feels Like ..."}