Republican women’s puzzling embrace of Trump:...
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Jan 22, 2016  |  Vote 0    0

Republican women’s puzzling embrace of Trump: Mallick

They like him as much as he despises them. It’s a genuine puzzle in the state of Iowa

OurWindsor.Ca

American women attend Donald Trump rallies, many women. They like him. The fact that Trump does not appear to like them does not bother them. It may even attract them.

The female Republican voters backing Trump’s candidacy are a puzzling phenomenon. From Rosie O’Donnell’s weight to Fox host Megyn Kelly’s periods to Republican candidate Carly Fiorina’s face to Hillary Clinton’s “schlonging” and in many more instances, Trump’s references to women make it sound as if they were something he’d stepped in on the sidewalk on the way to the rally. You’d think the fat remark alone would have doomed him, but no.

The Barbara Lee Foundation, a women’s equality group, tells the Guardian that the party always matters more than gender issues. “It’s true for both parties but it’s particularly true for Republicans.” But that doesn’t explain why Republican women don’t flock to the other candidates in their own party who don’t casually insult women. Trump’s support among Republican women in Iowa is running at 23.5 per cent, level with Ted Cruz’s.

Nationally though, 62 per cent of female voters disliked Trump, the Guardian reports. So why are Republican women so amenable to their own degradation?

The Guardian interviewed 18 such women at four Trump events in Iowa this week, including the one where Sarah Palin endorsed Trump in a bizarre speech that one writer likened to a Walt Whitman poem that he retitled “I Sing the Body Apoplectic.”

What it discovered appeared to be a ladder of anger, in which general rage overcomes self-esteem. “He’s sick and tired of things, and so am I,” said one Judy Haines.

But here’s my question: are these women sick and tired of themselves? “I am absolutely not a feminist,” Iowa State University student Olivia Otis told the Guardian. ”I don’t advocate that women are better than men because I think, obviously, we’re equal.” She then attributed the difference in U.S. male and female median wages (in 2014, it was $45,292 for men vs. $37,388 for women) to merit.

Another woman loved Trump’s idea of making Mexico pay for a border wall. “Like the Berlin Wall,” she said.

So we’re not considering intellect here. Something deeper is at work. I suspect it may be the force of gender relations throughout human history; such women are going to continue to accept a Republican male valuation of themselves for many generations.

A woman’s dislike of her own femaleness is one thing. But what does she think of Trump’s view of other women? Perhaps it coincides with her own.

It does seem that the heart of feminism is women being constantly told to value themselves but only rarely to value other women. I give you GOMI, or Get Off My Internets, an American site founded by Brooklyn blogger Alice Wright (she posts under the name PartyPants) that exists to evaluate “mommy blogs” and wreck the dignity of the women who write them. It has been called a “mean girls” site for adults, and it is punishingly cruel toward young mothers trying to start a blogging business or even play a part in the wider world while staying at home with their children.

GOMI is vicious. It crushes small hopes with a giant boot. The GOMI attackers are like the small select band of cyberbullies, many of them female, who torment Gerry and Kate McCann, the British doctors whose tiny daughter Madeleine was kidnapped in Portugal in 2007. The child has never been found.

But who would troll bereaved parents? When one of the McCann’s tormenters, a Brenda Leyland using the handle @sweepyface on Twitter, was approached by a reporter about her years of cyberbullying, she killed herself. Wealthy but unemployed, she had been tweeting about the McCann case for years. Why? Class resentment, dislike of Kate McCann’s apparent indomitability, a hobby.

It’s easy to dismiss these case studies of burning resentment as being the dark heart of the Internet, but it’s more important to study them in bright sunlight. Feminism is succeeding. It is transforming women’s lives, offering money, autonomy, choice and goodwill to all. But the transition is painful and will continue to be so for many decades to come.

When people hate, it’s often born of something they hate in themselves. If that makes an American woman vote for woman-despising Donald Trump, it’s something worth identifying and repairing.


My Jan. 20 column had Spanish-language media company Univision buying a controlling stake in my favourite publication, The Onion. It’s a large stake but I am pleased to report not a controlling one. Subscribe and enjoy this fine area publication.

Toronto Star

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