Donald Trump’s misogyny has reached heights rivalled only by his eponymous tower. The now-infamous “Grab ’em by the p—y” tape, which Trump tried to pass off as “locker room talk,” has motivated more women to accuse the presidential candidate of sexual assault (one, for instance, alleged he groped her on an airplane.)
The new cases bring the running tally to over a dozen women who have said Trump sexually harassed or assaulted them. Presidential, indeed.
His female supporters are finally starting to abandon him. A vote for Trump has become a vote for misogyny (and xenophobia and racism and four years worth of chest-thumping speeches lacking basic coherence). By default, a vote for Hillary Clinton, a woman who has made issues such as affordable child care and paid leave central to her campaign, now represents respect for women. But that’s a dangerous and untrue equation.
Unlike anti-immigration or pro-life policies, misogyny isn’t an issue confined to the Republican Party’s platform. Democrats can distance themselves from Trump’s Mexico wall, but sexism permeates political lines.
When we associate rape culture with conservatism, we blind ourselves to the fact that there are those with liberal values who also assault and harass women. And we forget that politically, misogyny is an issue both parties need to address.
Despite his disgusting comments and deeds, Donald Trump and his alt-right conservative voters do not hold a monopoly on misogyny.
If you’re looking for a unifying thread between men who violate women, it’s power, not politics. The most glaring proof is that Clinton’s own husband, Bill, has been accused of sexual harassment and sexual assault, allegations Trump has grossly tried to capitalize on.
Celebrities such as Canada’s Jian Ghomeshi, Woody Allen and Nate Parker, all part of and revered by liberal intellectuals, have also been accused of sexual assault. And then there’s former Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner, who has become the poster boy for dick pics.
But it’s not just public personalities whose actions appear to show contempt for women. There is regular chatter among feminists about male “allies” who use their progressive gender politics to abuse women.
Victims call the strategy men use to abuse female activists “macktivism.”A self-identified “male feminist” from Portland was accused by six women of using his status as a well-known political protestor to sexually assault them (Jezebel reports he was fluent on “women’s issues,” including consent). Every woman in my field is well-acquainted with these types, the men who spout feminist doctrine in the newsroom and grab your backside at the Christmas party. Such behavior is so common that writer Ann Friedman has popularized a metaphorical place called “The Island” to which she and her female colleagues can banish all the editors known to be sexual predators. In short, progressive politics and progressive behavior do not always match up.
Sexual assault is not a Republican issue, but one both parties need to tackle with policy solutions.
Men on both sides of the political spectrum are rushing to distance themselves from Trump’s unabashed sexism, but the truth is, many of them regularly perpetuate misogyny. Athletes have come out en masse to say their “locker room” talk sounds nothing like Trump’s version of it. A former Minnesota Vikings player, Chris Kluwe, told Vox, “We talk about our families … our children, our parents,” which is frankly, utter crap.
While of course not all athletes talk openly about sex assault – though they make up one-fifth of sexual assault perpetrators, according to the National Coalition Against Violent Athletes – the comments men make amongst themselves about women are all too frequently of the Trumpian variety.
That same crude commentary forms the very basis of rape culture. This kind of talk doesn’t just happen behind closed doors or on the Howard Stern Show. Liberal male commenters such as Ed Schultz and Bill Maher have frequently been sexist towards women: the former called Laura Ingraham a “right-wing slut” and the latter called Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann “boobs” and “two bimbos.”
Despite his disgusting comments and deeds, Donald Trump and his alt-right conservative voters do not hold a monopoly on misogyny. Sexual assault is not a Republican issue, but one both parties need to tackle with policy solutions. Of course we should condemn Trump for his lewd behavior toward women, but we should not let his actions obscure the fact that many men with liberal values, men who will no doubt cast their vote for the first female president on Nov. 8, also perpetuate male chauvinism.
*This column previously appeared in the Ottawa Citizen.