New Orleans In spite of himself Donald Trump may launch a sea change in the way that American women are dealt with in both private and public by serving as a poster boy for how much American men say they have changed, and how little they have actually changed. He has made no special effort to make this huge contribution. He has just done what comes naturally to him.
I didn’t watch the debate. I saw a soundless minute or two changing airplanes around the world. Just enough to see Trump talking and Clinton grinning like the cat who had swallowed the canary. I have never seen the word “manterruption” before, and I may be misspelling it and not saying it correctly now, but thanks to thousands of stories about the most watched debate in US-history, all of us immediately know what it means and how it works. Women are rallying behind the banner of “I told you so,” with fingers pointed at Trump’s performance and his constant efforts to talk over Clinton, to interrupt her as she spoke, and uncontrollably feel driven to respond, even unwisely, to her points.
Single-handedly, Trump has proven why no amount of “leaning in” will ever work with many men, especially those with wealth and power, because they just don’t respect or care what women have say. Period. They like the eye candy, but such men don’t want a whole lot more than that.
And, as Trump has abundantly proven, such men and many, many like them it seems from the level of his continued support, will say they love women and shout down any naysayers, but when it comes right down to it they don’t know what to do with them or have much interest in figuring it out. For Trump and his team it’s still the 50’s, and it’s a man’s world. They never understood the rest of the James Brown line that “it would be nothing without a woman or a girl.”
In the same way that Black Lives Matter and the ruthlessness of police has grabbed the country by the shirt collar and shaken the pretense of progress on race to reveal how much systemic racism is still crippling the country, Trump will launch a million water cooler and kitchen table discussions about how deep seeded sexism remains throughout the country, high and low. In voices soft and loud, there will be tens of millions of women reminding men to not “go Trump” on them when they have something to say and need to be heard. Those women will find the opportunity to remind the men in their lives, sons, brothers, partners, and colleagues that they need to get right on this issue before they humiliate themselves and become pariahs among women. You know, like Trump did.
That’s the problem with this whole fake issue of “political correctness.” That’s camouflage being worn by Trump and some of his supporters as a claim that the problem is language, and not the beliefs themselves. No matter what lipstick you put on a pig, it’s still a pig. No matter how you dress up sexism and racism, these diseases are still viral it seems throughout our society, and Trump is proving in his candidacy and campaign that they are popular and pronounced. Every time he opens his mouth, interrupts, and spouts his “tell it like it is” racism and misogyny, he is also sending messages that repel good people everywhere and move them to recoil in horror and humiliation, and vow to change themselves and force others to do so as well.
When all of this is said and done, we may owe him some inadvertent and unearned thanks for showing all of us how we should never be and helping those silenced to raise their voices for change.