Like me, you’ve probably been entertained by Donald Trump for the past few months. His brash and controversial statements and his strong offense in the race for the GOP nomination have earned him a disproportionate amount of media attention and has skyrocketed his poll numbers. I’ll admit that I have a “Make America Great Again” hat sitting up on my shelf and while I would only wear it ironically and in the company of my friends, I haven’t touched it in weeks. “The Donald” was funny and entertaining in the beginning of his campaign, when no one thought he would gain traction. But now he is a serious contender for the highest position in our country, and my amusement has turned to anxiety. Many are able to reconcile his personality with his policy points, but his misogynistic treatment of women is inexcusable. We’ve all heard about Trump’s many young and pretty girlfriends and his explosive rivalry with Rosie O’Donnell, but we often overlook the huge warning signs and the societal repercussions of having this man as our leader. He’s dangerous—to all of us.
Firstly, Trump was in trouble for telling a reporter “you wouldn’t have your job if you weren’t beautiful.” With nine words, he completely discredited and ignored any hard work, education, and sacrifices that this woman had made to break into a very closed industry and accredited all of her success to her physical appearance. By not acknowledging her work, he’s disrespecting her and reducing her to a pretty microphone stand. This is one of his core characteristics and one reason why he is so dangerous—Donald Trump sincerely and honestly believes that women can only be valuable if they are beautiful.
In his 2004 book How to Get Rich, Trump stated that the women on his popular business game show, The Apprentice, had to rely heavily on their looks to progress. He’s alerting us here to the fact that his decisions on who remained on the show were dependent on whether he found the women in front of him attractive. I mean, he was the head judge on his show, so those decisions were all his. Again he discredits these women’s hard work and insinuates that women cannot be successful based solely on their cunning and confidence, but only move forward in the world based on their cup-size. This is a man that is in the running to be in charge of a government that employs thousands of women. Will they be put through the same standard that Trump holds for the women on his television show and dismissed or promoted based on appearance? Will women be degraded, and their accomplishments and qualifications ignored for a subjective physical standard? As the judge on The Apprentice, literally promoting women based on looks, Trump shows us how he values women in the work force more than any speech could ever show: he ignores intelligence, skill, and professionalism and only sees women as objects that should be aesthetically pleasing to men.
And furthermore, when a woman challenges him, he immediately attacks her with obscenities and degrading comments about her appearance, personal life, or with denouncements of her intelligence. Countless successful women, including Angelina Jolie, Bette Midler, and Sarah Jessica Parker, have been subject to Trump’s unwarranted anger and sexist comments. And Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly called Trump out on his insults at the GOP debate, reminding us all that he has called women he doesn’t like “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals” and asked how he would react to Hillary Clinton’s claim that Trump is part of the war on women. This line of questioning was interrupted by the presidential candidate claiming it was “only Rosie O’Donnell” and a large round of cheering and applause. Eventually, he answered these allegations by asserting that our country is too politically correct. “I, frankly, don’t have time for total political correctness,” he said.
Let that sink in. Yes, there are ongoing debates about what is politically correct and what is too sensitive—as societal norms shift we often are confused as to what might be offensive to someone. That in itself is a problem. But this man, who has thousands upon thousands of followers, is saying that it is not worth his time to treat women with respect. He’s saying that we are being too politically correct when we believe it wrong to refer to women as pigs and dogs and disgusting animals. Trump finished this already disgusting display of misogyny by saying that he’s been very nice to Kelly, “though I could probably maybe not be based on the way you have treated me.” By doing exceedingly well at her job and asking the hard-hitting questions in her position as the moderator for the GOP debate, Megyn Kelly essentially lost her right to be respected by “The Donald” because he didn’t appreciate having his own words thrown back in his face. And that’s the precedent we set with Donald Trump in power—any woman that challenges him (especially professionally) loses the right to be treated with respect by him.
Finally, we look at his record of sexualizing and demeaning women. This could be the most dangerous aspect of Trump’s personality in that it reveals a mental state that relates to the dangers women face in regards to violation of their bodies and personal space. Trump told Brande Roderick, a then contestant on the The Apprentice and former Playboy model, that “it must be a pretty picture, you dropping to your knees.” His defense for his comments to women in his exchange with Megyn Kelly was that they are all in good fun and that he’s joking. But here, we have a blatant example of sexual harassment, and even tolerating that in a presidential candidate should not be accepted.
In How to Get Rich, Trump stated that “all of the women on The Apprentice flirted with me – consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected.” To assume that women are unconsciously flirting or that they are expected to be attracted to someone is to feed into the cultural phenomenon of treating women as sexual objects. Acting under the idea that a woman is “unconsciously flirting” with someone can lead to unwarranted advances, a lack of responsibility, and even to blaming a victim, claiming that “she was asking for it.” And while this is fortunately not the case in the examples in this article, it certainly gives insight into the dangerous implications of the mindset of a man gearing up for the presidential elections. The same man that posted on Twitter shockingly high statistics of unreported sexual assault in the military and then added “what did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?” By asserting his belief that putting men and women together in the military would definitely lead to high numbers of sexual assault, Trump shows us his unprogressive, misogynistic, and destructive views of 50% of this nations population, and puts us in danger with his widely publicized views that demean women and propagate a society that treats them as objects of pleasure.
You all have your own vote, and you have your own political views. By all means, revel in Donald Trump’s slogan and go forth to “make America great again.” But consider the consequences of following a man that does not respect at least half the population, and know that we could have a greater America without him.