On Thursday morning Donald Trump aimed his hair-trigger fire at Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough. While Joe was labeled “Psycho Joe,” the brunt of Trump’s sapless junior high theatrics was reserved for Mika.
I have my own opinions regarding the relationship history between Mika, Joe, and Trump, but the internet is doing a fine job of delving into that without my help. The point I want to focus on is that the President once again viciously went after a woman, labeling her crazy, stupid, and then – of course – played a card that, for the most part, is reserved for women by attacking her looks. He attempted to feed on what he assumed were her insecurities and shame her in front of the world for having a face-lift. The anger those tweets caused was palpable, and many across the political spectrum spoke out against Trump’s tweets.
As an example, David French wrote a fantastic article directed towards Republicans regarding celebrating GOP victories while also holding Trump accountable for his words.
“Words still matter, and the president’s words are often reprehensible. Even those who say, “Talk to me about what he does, not what he tweets” know this to be true. How can I tell? Because these same people incessantly point to liberal words and are unceasingly outraged by liberal tweets. Indeed, they often act as if a random news anchor’s comments are somehow more consequential than the president’s. I know. I see the clickbait everywhere.”
And while I applaud David, it’s also worth noting that his article was needed because while many spoke out, many others still felt Trump’s behavior should be expected, thus – in their eyes – it shouldn’t be surprising or newsworthy. Somehow this road eventually leads to a shrug, and beyond that lies the state of normalizing and excusing the celebration of an abusive and sexist man simply because he’s the enemy of your enemy.
I couldn’t find the time to write about this yesterday, but I’m glad I didn’t since it gave me a chance to see the reactions of those who waited for the fire to die down before they made their attempts at deflecting.“Let’s get on to more important tasks,” they proclaimed. “What about Bill Clinton’s treatment of women?!” others muttered into the vast marshland of the clickservative and Trumpologist masses (pretty sure that Venn diagram is just one big circle at this point). “What he said made me shrug, it’s normal for him. Why get outraged? Instead let’s focus on the more important question; how did we get here?” they ask, completely unaware that the answer lies within their question. “Does it really matter?” they all ponder, knowing full well the answer.
Yes. It matters. It all matters.
It matters because you shrugged, not in spite of it.
When a woman, regardless of who she is or whether you align with her politics, is viciously attacked by the President it should never elicit a shrug. Expecting such behavior doesn’t mean that behavior is somehow insignificant, and when you get to the point where you think it’s insignificant, we have a much bigger problem than the President’s tweets.
So how did we get to this point? This is an interesting question because many who propose it in exchange for subject change don’t really want us to delve past the surface level answers of “the ACA,” “the Democrats,” or “but Hillary!” to find the truth. A real analysis would bestow upon them an answer revealing even an elementary understanding of society’s degraded view of women. And what if, God forbid, someone labels them a “feminist” for pointing out the blatant misogyny of the President, or the broad acceptance – or shrug? – of such behavior from many on the right? And as the witty pundits ponder which is worse, feminism or cancer, acknowledging such issues is taboo. Better to just continue talking about how women are “already equal,” how making “get back in the kitchen” jokes is simply harmless fun, and continuing that new hobby of shouting “this is why Trump won” at things we don’t like.
As I said in this post, Donald Trump is merely a symptom of the disease.
“In order for Trump to be elected, individuals – both men and women – had to minimize his treatment of women, which speaks poorly of the value they placed on those he attacked, demeaned, and objectified. Donald Trump being sworn in today is proof that our nation is willing to accept women as less worthy of the respect, dignity, and protection we deserve in this nation.
I watched as fellow women, adorned in their Trump paraphernalia, brazenly celebrated a man who speaks of women as though they are animals for him to own, and playing apologist for the men who defend him. I found myself telling women – WOMEN – that it is not okay for a man to brag about being able to sexually assault them. Why must I tell women that sexual assault is not “locker room” talk? That openly discussing your conquests and the romps you have behind your wife’s back is a sign of sewer level character that is not befitting of the Oval Office? Why must I tell women that it is not okay for a man to refer to them as a “piece of a–,” or treat them as brainless entity that can easily be replaced?
The fact that such things must be explained has exposed a societal breakdown in which many women have embraced their assigned degraded value as though it is a crown.”
“How did we get here?”
Is it whatever the commentators consider to be Democrat failures? Barack Obama? Bill Clinton? Hillary’s emails? The list goes on and on, but what they fail to see is how such arguments actually aid in proving my point. If we were to set aside our worthless “this is why Trump won” shallow spur-of-the-moment theories and really break open Election 2016 and give it the thorough autopsy it deserves, I believe we’d find that the behavior of various Democrats paved the way for Republican success, just as Republicans tend to do for Democrats. It’s the natural cycle of politics. However, it was the skewed priorities and proclivities of Republicans and Trump’s loyal supporters that allowed him to be the chosen one. In the end, the people who voted for Trump put their fantasies of political revenge above his treatment of women – as well as minorities – and they did it long before November 8th. If I were wrong about this, Donald Trump certainly wouldn’t be in the White House, and one of the other 16 GOP candidates would have faced Hillary.
So we can talk about what upset people so much that they voted for a man who bragged about sexually assaulting women, or spend years mulling over what made the pendulum swing so far, but it’s impossible to get past the fact that Trump would have failed if we had prioritized the treatment of women and minorities over emotions and revenge politics long before any vote was cast.
So maybe the next time you see a woman like Mika Brzezinski or Megyn Kelly being treated with venomous disdain by the Commander-In-Chief of The United States of America and you suddenly find yourself asking how we got here, reevaluate your shrug. We got here because despite any reasonable issues any Conservatives have with Democrats, our priorities are dangerously skewed.
It matters because he’s the President of the United States of America.
Comparing what he says to anyone else in the world, sans former Presidents, doesn’t cut it. A lot of people were comparing Trump’s tweets to Mika’s joke about the size of his hands, but – and pay close attention here – MIKA IS NOT THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.
This is similar to when the Billy Bush tape dropped and Trump apologists began using the term “locker room talk” to explain this behavior:
“Trump: Yeah, that’s her. With the gold. I better 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. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
Bush: Whatever you want.
Trump: Grab ’em by the p****. You can do anything.”
According to the Department of Justice, sexual assault is “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.” What Trump’s describing in the interview is sexual assault. I can’t tell you how many people explained this away to me by saying their husband, son, boyfriend, etc., talks like this, that it’s healthy and normal. “Every man you know talks like this, even if you don’t know it.” No. No they don’t. On top of that, if you believe that and your husband is actually bragging about being able to commit sexual assault without repercussions, you have more issues on your hands than an irrational fear of Democrats. On behalf of all the good and decent men out there, and our society as a whole, we need to stop normalizing his behavior. However, if this is indeed how your husband, boyfriend, son, or male acquaintance talks, HE’S STILL NOT THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.
It matters, period.
At the end of April I wrote a post criticizing conservative publications for the plethora of blatantly sexist articles they’re producing (read here). Many of them are feeding women the message that if we’re hurt, it’s kind of our fault. If we’re harassed, we could have prevented it. If our marriage is suffering, we’re not fit enough. If we’re assaulted, we asked for it. They tell us women can’t really provide anything men truly need outside of sex, including conversation, friendship, or cultural enrichment. They’re sending these messages under the guise of encouraging modesty and relationship advice. Many of the people asking the “how did we get here” and “does it matter” questions work for these publications. Do we really not see the domino effect of devaluing women and how it might lead to shrugging off sexist attacks?
Such behavior will always exist in society, and those articles will somehow find their way past an editor. Additionally, I’m not recommending an ecclesiastical encroachment of free speech for the sake of what I deem to be morally acceptable. The mistake we’ve made is in believing that one’s right to say obnoxious things is somehow impeded if we say “hey, that’s an obnoxious thing to say.” Celebrate the right to be repugnant, not the repugnancy. We need to learn to recognize when we’re being sold a bill of goods by people we’re prone to trust.
In the end, when we boil women down to items designed for consumption, when we imbue victim shaming into culture through seemingly innocent opinion hot takes on modesty, when we infuse our most civil ideologies with the acceptance of demeaning jokes and behavior, and when we saturate society with the dangerous mentality that respecting women as an expectation is too much of a politically correct culture, we create a world where blatantly misogynistic behavior from the President of The United States becomes a shrug-worthy act. Worse yet, we create a world where a man with such a vast history of that same behavior could even be in the running for the job he now holds.
When the President tweets misogynist attacks, it matters.
When the elected officials who endorsed him don’t see the significance, it matters.
When we shrug, it matters.