The Woman Card

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Trump Says Something Controversial For First Time…

During his victory speech and press conference last night, Donald Trump claimed that, were Hilary Clinton a man, she’d get like five percent of the vote. She’s got the woman card and nothing else. This has been called a controversial statement and a sexist statement. But everyone is going to hear it through their own filter, with biases and preconceived notions. Because of my own awareness of filters, I enjoy writing through my thoughts — unlike the Constitution, this blog is a living, breathing journey through various topics. Let’s examine what Trump said.

Actually, we’ll first talk about whether or not it is sexist. Sexism, in a nutshell, is believing one gender is worse or less valuable than another — or hating a gender. For purposes of this discussion we’ll use male/female as the binary genders and leave off the recent social developments regarding identity because those changes are discussed enough elsewhere and aren’t pertinent to this thought process.

Trump has been accused of being sexist by myriad women across the spectrum of politics and I don’t believe their opinions are invalid even if I disagree with them — those women have developed opinions based on their own experiences and perceptions. But for full disclosure I do not think Trump is a sexist. I’ll explain further later on in this post. Whether or not he is sexist, was the remark itself sexist?

I don’t think so. He wasn’t saying she only had the woman card because she was a woman. He wasn’t saying women aren’t qualified to be President or hold jobs in politics. Instead, he said that this particular woman has support only because she’s a woman. Removing all of the other issues surrounding Trump and possible sexism, this is a perfectly valid line of thought. Hilary herself has put forth the idea that the major difference between her and Obama is that she is a woman — in an interview or debate, I forget which, she was asked something along the lines of, “Why aren’t you just a continuation of Obama’s policies?” Her answer: “Because I’m a woman.” (Paraphrased; she may have said “Primarily” or “Firstly”.)

Being female has been a major part of her appeal and push — and she has attempted to court the female vote. That’s a fair assessment. But, would she really go from roughly half the Democrat vote to five percent if she were a man?

Well, how well did the other three or four men other than Sanders fare? Webb didn’t even crack five percent. Maybe that can be attributed to name recognition. But who outside of those of us in the political game knew Bernie Sanders a year ago? It isn’t just name recognition.

Hilary has the highest negatives of anyone on the Democrat side in a while. People don’t like her. A few short-sighted types might say this is because she’s a woman, that people would accept her more if she were a man with the same issues. I disagree completely. The people assuming this are attributing a hate or distrust of women to the people who hate or distrust Hilary.

Let’s look at some of the reasons for her negatives, and wonder about men with similar issues: The e-mail scandal is wholly her baby. Violation of all sorts of laws regarding state secrets of varying nature. Exposure of sensitive information (even if not classified* confidential or above) to prying eyes. General Petreaus did much less and his career is over. That man could have been President or Vice President without that scandal. A damn fine military career and he’ll be remembered for one scandal.

Is that because he’s a man? No, it’s because the story was sexier than the e-mail server — despite his mistress being aggressively unattractive, as a culture we love our sex scandals regardless of the actual sex appeal of those involved. See, for example, almost every major political sex scandal.

Another negative Hilary has is paired with that: she’s seen as corrupt. She’s seen as being a friend to the big banks, to Wall Street, to any number of rich folk. Is that fair? Well she claimed Wall Street as constituents to repel Bernie’s attacks. She did give speeches for Goldman Sachs and has not released the transcripts. I doubt anything truly interesting is in those, it just contributes to the narrative. Do those same attacks work as well on men? Well, the Goldman loan Cruz had hurt him pretty bad, and Kasich likely would appeal to more people without his ties to Goldman. For whatever reason that particular company has become something of a scarlet letter.

Then there is Benghazi and her perceived inaction and mistakes, and the cover up that followed. As we learned with Nixon the cover up can be worse than the crime and many see her attempt to blame a video — and lie about it since — as an attack on free speech and an attempt to blame the victim. Nixon resigned over the cover up, not the crime itself. As for the night of Benghazi itself, her own line about the 3 AM call just makes it a delicious irony for many.

But the big thing many people focus on, and a lot of folks get bent out of shape over, is the harpy thing. Yeah, she’s grating. Fair or not, she’s judged by her appearance. Does that translate to men? Sometimes, and just like with women it typically is influenced by how a person already feels about them: Cruz’s off-putting looks are cited fairly often in criticisms of him. Trump’s finger size has gotten an inordinate amount of attention. People always make fun of Trump’s hair. Rubio is too short — and Jeb tried to stand on his tip toes for a picture. Height matters a lot for men in the public eye — usually the taller Presidential candidate wins.

Bush was unflatteringly compared to a chimp. And so on. Nixon lost to Kennedy in part because of the visuals surrounding the televised debate where Nixon wasn’t wearing makeup and was sweating — people who heard the debate felt Nixon won by a large margin, but the reverse was true for seeing it.

Her voice is also really annoying, and somehow this is just unacceptable to bring up. But people made fun of Bush’s voice, laugh, the way he spoke (and not just the errors). People make fun of how most politicians sound. It’s an industry — SNL has survived some hard times because of their ability to mimic presidents and candidates. And believe me, a nasally Poindexter guy would not become the nominee today.

We’ve evolved to use our sense of sight and hearing to judge our surroundings. Extending this to politics is natural.

Speaking of natural, we are naturally averse to unhealthy people — and Hilary is seen by many as having undisclosed health issues. I think she’s very sick, terribly sick, and they’re hiding it. Wouldn’t be the first time — Kennedy had a host of health issues by many reports, but the lid was kept on that. FDR tried to hide being wheelchair bound from the public. Because we see unhealthy as weak, and we don’t want a weak president.

There are a great deal of negatives, fair or not, surrounding Hilary. All of them would just as easily damage a man. Would it damage him enough to keep him at five percent? We’ll never know, of course. But it’s clearly a reasonable assumption that, with her negatives and inability to command attention as Trump does, she’d be a poor candidate if male. She’d also lose the major trump card she plays at every turn: “I’d be the first woman president.”

Is Trump Sexist?

No. Most of the examples of sexist remarks from Trump are him being critical of women’s appearances, or making bad jokes. He’s often as critical or worse of his male opponents — yeah, he did say he didn’t want to look at Fiorina for four years. But he also demeaned Rubio based on his size and has made numerous comments about how awful Cruz and others look. Trump goes for effective and we are predisposed to judge based on appearance (and sound, as mentioned above). It goes to healthy/unhealthy, strong/weak, and even “like me.”

His re-tweet of Cruz’s wife (in a very unflattering photograph) along side a modeling picture of his own wife was foolish, but I do not think it was meant to be sexist. This comes from my own experience and understanding of men and what we value. My wife is very attractive and I understand that this is a big win and a boost to my own status as a man, among men. When men I dislike have ugly wives I find that amusing; I’ve mentioned the sad, eternal, nameless asshole that I occasionally have to deal with several times. Before his wife he had a string of terrible looking girlfriends and this always amused me. I don’t hate women, not even a little bit, but this is how men are — we value beauty.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. We live in a time when everyone is to be accepted, and whoever and however they wish to engage in sexual relations is to be accepted, but somehow it is seen as shameful for men to want beautiful women. That’s stupid. Trump re-tweeted something ill-advised but he wasn’t hating on women; he was promoting his wife who had been made the central issue of the vote in Utah (by a terrible person, awful slimy political person) over Ted Cruz’s wife because Cruz was the beneficiary of the attacks. “Punch back twice as hard.” It came across as sexist to many, especially those predisposed to think he’s sexist, but he felt it was a tit-for-tat response. (Also, tweeting something is a great deal less intense than running advertisements.)

No, Trump isn’t sexist. He’s occasionally too juvenile or crude in his humor for the typical political class. But after Romney and McCain’s lily-livered campaigns he can afford that.

* “Classified” does not mean secret; the word classified merely means it has been put into a category, which can be benign as “for official use only”. Even “unclassified” information has to be reviewed — or classified — before release. And there is a danger to over-classification, putting information that should be more available into a tight locker for no good reason.