I’ve previously observed that Donald Trump, despite his absurd claims to the contrary, does not respect women. Well, he doesn’t “like” women, either—at least not in any way that aligns with liking people as complex human beings, rather than as objects.
Understandably concerned about his cavernous gap with female voters, Donald moaned: “My poll numbers with men are through the roof. I like women more than men, though. Come on, women.”
Yes, come on, women. Aren’t you convinced yet? He likes us better than men!
Where to even begin.
For a start, imagine, just for a moment, the immediate backlash if Hillary Clinton said “I like women more than men, though.” Or its opposite: “I like men more than women, though.” There is no construction of these combination of words that she could utter without inviting swift and intense criticism.
The reason Donald gets away with saying it, apart from the usual sexist double-standards around gendered language, is twofold.
1. Everyone knows he doesn’t mean it. To say he likes women more than men is just a cynical bit of pandering. No more than a joke, really, at women’s expense.
2. He doesn’t mean he likes us as human beings, anyway.
What he means, what we all understand quite plainly, is that he likes looking at women. He likes women the same way he likes yachts and ostentatious chandeliers and buildings. He actually said this: “Beauty and elegance, whether in a woman, a building, or a work of art is not just superficial or something pretty to see.”
He likes us as possessions, as things that he can control. “Come on, women.”
That doesn’t actually make me feel “liked.” It makes me feel demeaned. It makes me feel less-than.
One thing I have observed over and over (and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over, and over some more) during my forty-two years on this rock, is that there are men who treat women like people, and men who treat women like not-men.
Men who treat women like people—that is to say, in the same way they treat other men—generally tend to have no problem being both kind and respectful to women. They are pleasant in their interactions with women; they are respectful during their interactions with women; they hold friendly and engaging and fun and challenging and sometimes contentious conversations with women; if they are straight men, they acknowledge appropriate boundaries in terms of romantic behavior (i.e. they don’t treat a work environment like it’s a singles bar just because a female person is in it); they don’t ogle or grope women; they regard women as their equals, and are capable of acknowledging women’s different experiences from their own without using that as the basis for treating women like a different species.
Men who treat women like people treat us as individual people, who are deserving of their decency unless and until an individual woman gives them a reason to be guarded, or avoidant, or angry, or whatever—in which case, those feelings are directed at the individual woman who piqued their ire, not at “women.”
On the other hand, there are men who treat women like not-men. Women are regarded as a separate class of human altogether (or, in some cases, non-human), a monolithic variation which exists not in complement to men, but in service to them. Men who treat women like not-men, if they are straight, view women as the sex class, and ergo do not draw any delineation between spheres of work and play, but view a woman in a professional space as an interloper, whose purpose as a sexual object and potential sex partner supersedes her role as a working person in her chosen vocation.
Men who treat women like not-men have problems viewing women just as co-workers, as bosses, as friends, as teachers, as equals, because they see them as humans with a (sex/reproductive) service role, which is not how they see other men.
Men who treat women like not-men are incapable of acknowledging women’s different experiences from their own without using that as the basis for treating women like a different species. They use any woman’s failure to please as a strike against the entirety of womankind, and they annihilate the individuality of a woman beneath the crushing weight of their own biases about women, and then accuse women of being all the same.
They treat a woman’s personhood and her womanhood as mutually exclusive constructs, while treating manhood and personhood as synonymous, and then they wonder how it is that women can complain of different treatment, of lesser treatment.
There’s nothing decent or kind or respectful about treating women as though we are alien beings whose primary use is in service to your needs. Unless, of course, a woman is not attractive to you, in which case she has no use at all.
That is not indicative of “liking” women. It’s indicative of using us.
Donald wants to use female voters in the same way he has always used women. “Come on, women.” And he imagines that by yukking it up about how he likes women more than men, we’ll be fooled into supporting him.
The fact that Donald thinks women aren’t capable of seeing through this garbage is exactly why I have naught but contempt for him.
He doesn’t like women, and I, for one, don’t like him, either.
(AP Photo/Mel Evans)
[NOTE: Some text from this post was previously published at Shakesville.]