Remember the notorious Access Hollywood video that surfaced in 2016, in which the former President and current Republican party cult leader joked about grabbing women inappropriately? Many of us naively thought that would automatically disqualify him. Alas!
We’ve learned of any number of alleged sexual improprieties by the former guy. As of 2020, 26 women had come forward with accusations against him.
Remember when the Democratic Senate leadership forced Senator Al Franken of Minnesota to resign in 2018 because several women accused him of groping or kissing them? I always thought that whether or not he should continue in office was a decision best left to Minnesota’s voters. We’ll never know how the state’s voters would have reacted if they’d known about these charges and his responses when Franken ran for office and was reelected.
But we will know–and we’re finding out–how the voters feel about a crop of Republican men who are running in 2022 despite charges that make Franken’s purported behavior seem kinda tame.
And I see them as quite significant in the climate of the Supreme Court’s apparent willingness to force women to carry their pregnancies to term—even in cases of rape or incest.
A chilling video appeared that shows a man in New York Fire Department garb and MAGA hat yelling at pro-choice protesters: “The court has decided. You lose. You have no choice. Not your choice. not your body. Your body is mine and you’re having my baby.”
The NYFD said he’s not an employee, and they’re investigating. But it’s the message, not the messenger: Women have no choice with regard to their own bodies.
I don’t think it’s stretching things to see a line between this guy and some of the characters running for prominent offices as Republicans—with Trump’s endorsement, of course:
—Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster, who attended the January 6th “Stop the Steal” rally, has been accused of groping eight women. One of them is a very conservative Republican state senator. He’s been claiming to be the victim, saying it’s the Republican “establishment” (who knew there was still such a thing?) lying about him.
Now here’s something interesting and important: Herbster had been leading in the polls, but every single woman in Nebraska’s legislature—regardless of party—signed on to a letter opposing him because of those charges. Yesterday he lost.
—Missouri US Senate candidate Eric Greitens is the state’s former governor, who resigned in 2018. Why? A woman said he’d slapped her, forced her to perform oral sex on him, and had taken a nude photo of her without her permission that he said he’d publicize if she spoke about their affair. He denies the charges, but a state legislators committee found them “credible.” Now he’s back in politics, and he may well become a US Senator.
—Ohio’s 16th Congressional District candidate Max Miller won not only Trump’s endorsement, but also Don Jr’s fiancee as his campaign’s national chair. Trump’s former press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, stated that when she was dating Miller, he pushed her against a wall and slapped her. Though Miller denies he did so, he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges concerning a 2007 assault (and “guilty” to a 2010 disorderly conduct charge.) Miller won the Republican primary yesterday.
—Georgia’s US Senate candidate Herschel Walker, a former football player endorsed by Trump, has been accused by both his ex-wife and an ex-girlfriend of threatening to kill them. His ex-wife received a protective order against him; she said he’d pointed a gun at her. He denies what the ex-girlfriend said, claims he doesn’t remember threatening his former wife. (He is said to suffer from brain injury.)
And here’s the nadir of awfulness:
—In Indiana, Andrew Wilhoite, in jail after confessing he killed his wife, who had breast cancer, and dumping her body in a creek, won a Republican primary for a seat on his township board. From his jail cell.
One bit of sanity arose with the candidate Trump had originally endorsed for Pennsylvania’s Senate race. Sean Parnell withdrew after his ex-wife testified in a custody trial that he had attempted to strangle her and hit their children. According to Slate, he said in 2019 that feminism had created “women tyrants” and “men don’t want to put up with the BS of high-maintenance narcissistic women.”
(Trump moved his Pennsylvania endorsement to Mehmet Oz, celebrity doc, who willingly spouts the Big Lie.)
What do we make of this development? I am not suggesting that all men who vote for Republicans would condone or demonstrate such behavior—or that Democratic-voting men are free of misogyny.
But what kind of pretzel-thinking makes it possible for women to vote for such neanderthals? Refusal to accept what they’re hearing? Yes, that’s been documented. Stockholm syndrome? Could be. Identification with the throwback views of the roles of men and women?
The so-called NYFD dude in that video haunts me, as his sense of entitlement seems very similar to the language in the infamous Alito Supreme Court draft: If women didn’t have any rights when the founders drew up the Constitution, there’s no reason that they should have them now.
What’s more, the fact that Alito repeatedly cited 17th Century English jurist Sir Matthew Hale, who authored a treatise in support of marital rape—and had a couple of women burned at the stake—should tell us all we need to know about his thinking.
Not so far removed from that view is Amy Coney Barrett’s blasé comment that women who become pregnant against their will have nothing to worry about because after nine months, they can just drop off the baby somewhere without being punished.
These positions are the dehumanization of women–and I find them on a continuum with domestic violence.
Have Donald Trump and the court he made possible revealed, encouraged, or simply validated a toxic masculinity that’s playing out in men seeking elective office under the Republican banner?
The women in the red state of Nebraska give me hope. If we’re lucky—and by “we” I mean men, women, children, and our country—the gender gap will grow in our forthcoming elections, and Americans will reject this ugliness being foisted upon us based on amorphous minority views of religion, history, the Constitution, and men’s rights of dominance over the “weaker sex.”