Trump’s ‘nasty wo­man’ now fem­i­nist bat­tle cry

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

LIKE many peo­ple, 23-year-old Emily DiVito was mul­ti­task­ing while watch­ing last week’s pres­i­den­tial de­bate, with a lit­tle study­ing and a lit­tle Twit­ter-surf­ing. But when DiVito heard Don­ald Trump say those four words to Hil­lary Clin­ton, she shot up in her seat.

“The in­ter­rup­tions were so ab­surd, but that was par­tic­u­larly bit­ing,” she said.

What’s more, the mo­ment gave DiVito, a for­mer avid sup­porter of Clin­ton’s pri­mary ri­val Bernie Sanders, a feel­ing of sol­i­dar­ity with Clin­ton — a “mo­ment of con­nec­tiv­ity”, as she put it. “I was for Bernie, but mo­ments like this make me proud to be af­fil­i­ated with her, the way she is per­se­ver­ing.”

That’s good news for Clin­ton, who de­spite her lead in the polls, has strug­gled to con­nect with mil­len­nial vot­ers.

It also was prob­a­bly bad news for Trump. Days after his dev­as­tat­ing “grab ‘em” re­marks emerged and he started fac­ing new al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual as­sault, the GOP pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee had another bad week, lead­ing some to won­der whether his pop­u­lar­ity with fe­male vot­ers had reached rock bot­tom. The can­di­date who so badly needed to close the gen­der gap in­stead saw his “nasty wo­man” re­mark — ac­com­pa­nied by a wag­ging in­dex fin­ger — be­come a fem­i­nist bat­tle cry, a gal­vanis­ing mo­ment for Clin­ton and an ex­cla­ma­tion point to a cam­paign dom­i­nated by gen­der.

To Kathy Spil­lar, the “nasty wo­man” com­ment sounded like “the cof­fin shut­ting. I thought, ‘That’s it’,” said Spil­lar, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Fem­i­nist Ma­jor­ity Foun­da­tion. “Women vot­ers are go­ing to de­feat Trump.” The com­ment, she said, not only “summed up his whole at­ti­tude about women”, but showed how bit­ter he was about po­ten­tially los­ing to one. “Los­ing would be bad enough, but that he has lost to a wo­man re­ally grates on him,” Spil­lar said. “That’s cer­tainly clear. And this just fu­els the gen­der gap.”

In a Quin­nip­iac Univer­sity poll re­leased yes­ter­day, the day of the fi­nal pres­i­den­tial de­bate, Clin­ton led Trump among women by 52to 37 per­cent. It showed 43% of men backed Trump and 41 per­cent were be­hind Clin­ton. An NBC/Wall Street jour­nal poll re­leased a few days ear­lier showed an even larger gen­der gap, with women favour­ing Clin­ton over Trump by 55- to 35 per­cent. Clin­ton led Trump by 67- to 17 per­cent among likely vot­ers on the ques­tion of who would be bet­ter deal­ing with is­sues of con­cern to women.

Trump sup­porter Patti Stites felt the lat­est Trump re­marks were unfortunate, but wouldn’t sway her choice.

“It’s cer­tainly not nice, it’s not ap­pro­pri­ate, es­pe­cially in a de­bate,” said Stites, 61, of North­field, New Jer­sey. “But he says what he thinks. You still have to judge him by the is­sues. I don’t need to like my pres­i­dent,” added Stites, a for­mer em­ployee of a Trump prop­erty, the now-shut­tered Trump Taj Ma­hal in At­lantic City.

The “nasty wo­man” in­ter­jec­tion — com­ing on a night when both can­di­dates in­ter­rupted each other fre­quently - went vi­ral. Spo­tify tweeted that streams of Janet Jack­son’s Nasty were up 250 per­cent. “Nasty Wo­man” T-shirts were on of­fer (“Bad Hom­bre” ones, too.) Nancy Pelosi, the Demo­cratic leader in the House, got in on the act, tweet­ing to Clin­ton: “From one #NastyWo­man to another, you were an in­spi­ra­tion last night.”

“So much of this elec­tion cy­cle has been about the ways men be­lit­tle women when they don’t get what they want from them,” said Andi Zeisler, 43, fem­i­nist au­thor and founder of the non­profit Bitch Me­dia. “Now, peo­ple are see­ing them­selves in Don­ald Trump’s words to­ward Hil­lary, they’re see­ing them­selves in how his sur­ro­gates act to­ward women - and to­ward Lati­nos and any­one who is not a straight white man.”

The “nasty wo­man” re­mark, she said, is a “some­what pre­dictable and al­most laugh­able apex” of what’s been go­ing on all year. But, she added, it is to­tally pos­si­ble that there might be a new apex to come.

Through­out the de­bate, Clin­ton tried to high­light her op­po­nent’s trou­ble with fe­male vot­ers, say­ing at one point: “Don­ald thinks be­lit­tling women makes him big­ger.” When it came to abor­tion, she ar­gued in a pointed way for a wo­man’s right to con­trol her own body, after Trump said he would ap­point Supreme Court jus­tices who would over­turn Roe vs Wade.

That, too, im­pressed DiVito, who worked for Sanders’ cam­paign for sev­eral months after grad­u­at­ing from Welles­ley, Clin­ton’s alma mater. “I felt sol­i­dar­ity rooted in pride for a wo­man who was up there stick­ing up for other women against a man who has zero in­ter­est in try­ing to em­pathise with the emo­tional and phys­i­cal com­plex­ity of abor­tion,” DiVito said.

It didn’t help Trump that he evoked au­di­ble laugh­ter in the au­di­ence — de­spite mod­er­a­tor Chris Wal­lace’s ad­mo­ni­tions to the crowd — when he said: “No­body has more re­spect for women than I do.”

Deb­bie Walsh, who spe­cialises in women and pol­i­tics at Rut­gers Univer­sity, said she wasn’t par­tic­u­larly shocked by Trump’s re­mark, given his other re­cent state­ments. “Gen­der is front and cen­tre in this cam­paign, and he is clearly us­ing it,” said Walsh, di­rec­tor of the school’s Cen­tre for Amer­i­can Women and Pol­i­tics. She re­called Trump’s say­ing Clin­ton had “tremen­dous hate in her heart,” call­ing her the devil, even say­ing he “wasn’t im­pressed” when she walked in front of him — in­ter­preted as a com­ment on her ap­pear­ance. “He is the gift that keeps on giv­ing on this stuff,” Walsh said. For a male Clin­ton sup­porter, the mo­ment was a chance to re­flect on how women might re­act when they hear such things.

“I imag­ined women throw­ing things at the TV,” said Ste­fan Krieger, 69, a law pro­fes­sor in New York. “I imag­ine there are some men that say such things to their girl­friends, their wives, their part­ners, in a fit of rage. It’s a way of men lash­ing out with power. I hope I’m not like that.” — AFP.

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