In most every poll we’ve seen thus far, Donald Trump does better with men than he does with women. On second thought, a more accurate way to express this phenomenon would be to say that Trump does pretty well with men, but a shocking number of women seem to absolutely loathe him. Part of the reason can be found in a mountain of self-inflicted damage which Trump managed to accumulate through decades of doing interviews with Howard Stern, acquiring beauty pageants and living a very wealthy, “frat boy” lifestyle. If you’re going to get into American politics these days, that sort of thing is going to come back to haunt you. But no matter how you view his previous antics, feminists and liberals have seen tremendous success in translating that to a picture of misogyny, painting Trump as an uber-general in the War on Women.
It’s a portrayal which has clearly sunk in among more independent leaning female voters as well as the reliable base of the Democrats. But it’s also led to a bit of navel gazing and side-eye looks from some of the ladies when it comes to the men in their own lives who might be supporting Trump. How, they wonder, could you possibly live with – or even know – a wonderful woman like me or your mom or your sister and still agree to vote for that monster? That’s the question being posed by Jesse Singal at New York Magazine this week and he thinks he’s sussed out the answer. Some of you may be infected with the more crass version of “hostile sexism” (which means you’re open about being a brute), but most of you otherwise good guys are unknowing perpetrators of benevolent sexism.
Benevolent sexism is different. Benevolent sexists endorse a paternalistic view of the world in which women are to be cherished and protected, in part because they aren’t quite equal to men. Oftentimes, seemingly positive sentiments about women are manifestations of benevolent sexism. People who score high on this measure agree with statements like “No matter how accomplished he is, a man is not truly complete as a person unless he has the love of a woman,” “A good woman should be set on a pedestal by her man,” and “Men should be willing to sacrifice their own well being in order to provide financially for the women in their lives.” A good example of benevolent sexism? All those tweets following Trump’s Access Hollywood tape about “wives and daughters.”
[Peter] Glick explained that the overarching theory here is that benevolent sexism evolved culturally as a way to maintain the gender hierarchy while also allowing men to enjoy close companionship with women, consensual sex, and so on. In other words: If you adopt the stance that part of your role is to protect your wife or girlfriend and to be made better by her goodness, then you get those aforementioned perks, without losing your place in the gender hierarchy. “You’re the knight in shining armor, you’re Prince Charming — rather than, ‘You’re the oppressor,’” said Glick.
If you managed to make it through both of those paragraphs and any of this cranial treacle sounded familiar, it’s likely because you’ve been following the other culture wars engulfing America at the moment. If you happen to be unfortunate enough to have been born a white, Christian, straight and non-developmentally disabled CisMale (WCSNDDCM), you probably haven’t been able to avoid it. This type of assumed misogyny is a nearly perfect parallel to the theory that you are racist by definition if you are white, no matter how well you get along with and support people of other races, how long you’ve held your job writing for Mother Jones or the number of Black Lives Matter marches you’ve participated in. You see, you just don’t realize you’re a racist because you can’t recognize all your privilege. In the same fashion, if you happen to be in love with a girl and feel a need to protect her and make sacrifices to ensure her happiness and security, you’re unwittingly insulting her by implying that she’s a lesser being who couldn’t manage it for herself. You may think you’re holding the door open for her at the restaurant, but in actuality you are dangling the keys to her chains in front of her… or something.
In Mr. Singal’s essay (with full apologies if I was suppose to use some other prefix… Mx perhaps?) we find what may be the prime example of the great irony in our current age. As the Social Justice Warriors have advanced their agenda, screaming to the high heavens (or whatever version of posthumous dimensions you may or may not believe in) about inequity and the need for acceptance and The Great Coming Together, we’re converting a society once famed for being a melting pot into this swirling miasma filled with colliding pigeonholes. Everyone has to fit into their own corner of this toxic stew for the new system to work. At the bottom there is a massive layer composed of The Enemy, better known as the previously referenced WCSNDDCM. But even if your rise above that lowly station, you must qualify for some other definition: gay, trans, black, Hispanic, female, genderless, Muslim, atheist, colorful or colorblind. Should you dare to cross out of your lane for a moment you are lumped in with The Enemy until sufficient recompense is offered. That’s why gay pride events are being shut down by BLM counterprotesters. You see, it’s not enough to be oppressed by The Man. You have to be oppressed for the right reasons.
And now, thanks to the gross infection of testosterone perceived in the Trump campaign, we’ve dusted off the Battle of the Sexes from the sixties. Your Y chromosome won’t be earning you a pass into this party, my friend. That extra leg on your 23rd pair may as well be a scarlet letter branded on your forehead unless you’re fortunate enough to “identify” as a woman. For the rest of you, the game is afoot.
So today the proponents of such snake oil have a new chew toy to play with and the women in your life may need a moment alone for a word with you. Even if they never noticed your inherent misogyny before, should you mention that you’re considering voting for Donald Trump, the depth and breadth of your subconscious hatred of women will have been exposed. Hopefully you’ve got a comfortable couch to sleep on after you return from the Hillary Clinton reeducation camps.