Trump’s demeaning language about women is not about sex; It’s about power
By Richard Katz | Published Oct. 22, 2016
Donald Trump’s language demeaning women is often characterized by the media as “lewd,” implying Trump is overly preoccupied with sexual desire and lust. But, a genuine authoritarian, Trump is less preoccupied with sex than with power. Trump’s objectification of women whom he calls by animal names — such as calling Rosie O’Donnell a “fat pig” — and his targeting of female body parts is done to show his power over women, not his sexual regard.
Trump’s own words in the Access Hollywood videotape, demonstrate his preoccupation with his own power. He can seize, “grab” women, “get away with” whatever he wants because he has star power. Trump’s been quoted in The New York Times as claiming “I know how to ‘handle’ Hillary.”
As Rebecca Traister pointed out on MSNBC on Oct. 10, Trump’s intent in bringing Bill Clinton’s female accusers to the second presidential debate was to humiliate Hillary Clinton, to suggest she lacked sexual power over her husband. It certainly wasn’t done to support women. In fact, in the late 1990s, Trump heartily defended Bill Clinton against some of these same women, some of whom Trump demeaned as unattractive “losers.”
As women come forward confirming a history of Trump’s sexual assaults, his response has not been merely denial but further attacks on the status of these women, as not worthy of his attacks.
Women serve to reflect Trump’s power. Trump doesn’t wish to attract women but to dominate them. Similarly, as Trump’s campaign implodes, he has given up trying to attract voters but to dominate by demeaning those who oppose him.
Jane Goodall, noted for her work with primates, characterizes Trump’s behavior as that of “the dominance rituals of male chimpanzees,” in a Huffington Post article. In contrast, the more lustful and sexually preoccupied Bonobos, whose social structure is matriarchal, use sex to soothe and create bonds. Bonobo females act in groups to repel overly aggressive males. They’re “stronger together.”
At his rallies, Trump often tells his crowds that he “loves” them, especially “the poorly educated,” not because he loves them at all but because they reflect his domination of them. Trump’s rage against Republicans who have abandoned him betrays his fear of humiliation, his fear of powerlessness. Trump’s awkward public defense of his own physical endowment, likewise.
Editor’s note: Dr. Richard Katz is an associate professor of English at Kean University