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Trump's Brazen Misogyny
More Than Just An Old Story
Of all the undercurrents emanating from CNN's shameful staging of what turned out to be a live Trump rally masquerading as a news program, one that has received insufficient attention is the venomous misogyny the former president exuded. It deserves its own spotlight as an important truth that should not be normalized.
Maybe it was overshadowed by the specter of the spectacle itself. Perhaps all the lies about stolen elections become more of the focus. Possibly it was that the journalist — a woman, Kaitlan Collins — who was called on to “moderate” what cannot be moderated was fated to have her performance judged as well.
It is also likely that Trump and misogyny are so aligned in the public's mind now that when he presents further evidence, it no longer shocks us. But to become inured is to ignore one of the key aspects that makes him so damaging and unfit for office.
To be sure, many who watched and commented on the CNN dumpster fire noted Trump’s sexist and demeaning rants. He spit out that Collins was a “nasty person” when she tried to question him about the classified documents he took from the White House. He mocked E. Jean Carroll the day after a jury found him guilty of sexually abusing her. And he lied and railed against abortion rights.
To add to the outrage of the evening, Trump’s aggression and bile were met with whoops and cheers from the hand-picked MAGA crowd.
Trump and his defenders predictably wave away his antagonism toward women. They note the many women who served in his administration and the millions more who are fervent supporters. But those are thin smokescreens that try to shield decades of credible accusations of predatory behavior, and worse. And any fair assessment of his political rise and actions in office show that he has consistently demeaned, harassed, and bullied women who have the temerity to question or challenge his pursuit of fame, wealth, and power — whether they were politicians, reporters, civil servants, judges, or anyone else.
Trump sees himself as an alpha male who has a birthright to pick on anyone he sees as weak. We have seen that with groups marginalized based on race, religion, sexual orientation, physical handicaps, and certainly gender.
Sadly, attacking and degrading women is not a character trait limited to Trump. Sexism is baked into our society. And while we have had decades of progress, Trump and the movement he represents are setting it back. This isn’t theoretical. It’s a reality, as the overturning of Roe and a host of other issues make abundantly clear.
In reporting on Trump, there’s always a danger that what was once outrageous becomes commonplace. How many times can one write a version of the same article about his sexism? The answer is for as long as it is still a reality, which is just another way of saying as long as Trump has any sway or power over this country.
It’s not enough to couch and contextualize Trump’s misogyny in terms of how his actions will affect “women voters,” or the political backlash against the overturning of abortion rights, or even the coverage of the trial of E. Jean Carroll.
One of the great success stories of American democracy is how women, with courage, commitment, and sacrifice, have secured a seat at the table of American political, economic, and social power. Victories have been hard fought against legions of men like Trump. Women who sought to upset an unjust power balance have been called every name imaginable. But the journey is incomplete, and what has been accomplished is precarious.
Trump is fine with women who serve his needs and bask in his power. But he will eagerly tap into the full force of his privilege to attack those who stand in his way. And his actions have become an example for others to mimic. Just because this is an old story doesn’t mean it’s an obsolete one. And it should never be covered as such or dismissed accordingly.
If America is to move beyond this acrid chapter in our national narrative, women empowered with energy, empathy, courage, and a sense of justice will be leading the way. Trump likely knows this. Perhaps he is frightened about the judgment that might finally be coming.