If it is possible for a man to more thoroughly demonstrate contempt for accomplished and independent women than the tweet sent from Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz the day former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch testified before Congress about President Trump’s misconduct in Ukraine, I am not sure how.
I mean, of course, other than bragging about being such a “star” you “can do anything,” you can even “grab them by the pussy.“
About the graduate of Princeton, Moscow’s Pushkin Institute, and the National Defense University’s National War College, where she received a masters degree and served as Deputy Commandant of the Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy, the first term congressman, whose professional career is limited to a brief stint with a small law firm in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida and three full terms in the Florida House of Representatives, tweeted, “Impeachment isn’t about feelings.”
Yes, Mr. Gaetz, why else would a woman with 33 years of exemplary service to her nation and a resume full of extraordinary accomplishments testify about the attempt by Mr. Trump to coerce Ukraine into concocting an unethical and politicized investigation into the son of the president’s chief political rival unless her feelings were hurt.
It couldn’t possibly be that she, like Ambassador Bill Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, was simply appalled that the president of the United States would use the power of his office to pressure a foreign government into meddling into America’s 2020 presidential election.
And it certainly couldn’t be that she concluded rightly that it was her duty to report this to the American people.
The president kept his Twitter ammo dry while those men testified, but not so when Ms. Yovanovitch was at the microphone.
When the dignified and composed 61-year-old sat for five hours before members of the House, answering questions posed by both friendly and hostile representatives, just as her two male colleagues did before her, President Trump was unable to restrain himself.
Instead of respecting Ms. Yovanovitch’s right to testify without being attacked at the same time by the president, Mr. Trump fired off two tweets blasting the former ambassador’s performance in past assignments.
“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him. It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors,” tweeted Mr. Trump.
Continued Trump, characteristically taking credit for accomplishments that are fictitious, “They call it ‘serving at the pleasure of the President.’ The U.S. now has a very strong and powerful foreign policy, much different than proceeding administrations. It is called, quite simply, America First! With all of that, however, I have done FAR more for Ukraine than O.”
A History of Bullying Women
The tweets were a gift, of course, to the president’s opponents, a public relations disaster and another in a long series of unforced errors caused by Mr. Trump’s lack of discipline and, as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi put it, his insecurities. “I think part of it is his own insecurity as an imposter,” she said. “I think he knows full well that he’s in that office way over his head. And so he has to diminish everyone else.”
But it is more than that, much more. Mr. Trump’s attack on Ms. Yovanovitch is another in a seemingly endless series of broadsides he’s leveled at women who have dared stand up to him.
Molly Jong-Fast, writing in The Atlantic, pointed out just that in an article she wrote about how Mr. Trump’s contempt of women seems to come to the surface frequently, even when it is in his best interest to keep it buried inside. She wrote:
Trump showed more restraint 48 hours earlier, when William Taylor and George Kent went before the Committee. It was almost as if the president found himself triggered by Yovanovitch, the 61-year-old career diplomat. But why was the president’s response so different to witnesses who were roughly saying the same thing? What was the big difference between Kent and Taylor and Yovanovitch? All three are career diplomats, all three are Ivy League graduates, all three have worked in the State Department, all three are experts in Ukraine. But only one of them is a woman. Could that be why the president singled out Yovanovitch? It is almost as if the president is unable to control his rage against women. It is almost as if the president thinks he can bully women and silence them.
If this was Mr. Trump’s first attack on a woman, one could dismiss it as something out of the ordinary, perhaps the accumulation of stresses from a bad day at the office. After all, the president was facing at the time an impeachment inquiry that could end his presidency in utter humiliation.
But it is, of course, far from the first time Mr. Trump has attacked a woman who challenged him. “She had blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her, whatever,” Mr. Trump said to an interviewer about Fox’s Megyn Kelly after she defended women, questioning the then Republican candidate’s choice of names he’s used publically to call females with whom he disagreed.
“You’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.” Ms. Kelly said during the August 5, 2015 debate, to which Mr. Trump fired back, on Twitter of course, “Wow, @megynkelly really bombed tonight. People are going wild on twitter! Funny to watch.”
About his 2016 opponent, Mr. Trump tweeted (and then deleted) “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband, what makes her think she can satisfy America?” Highlighting the litany of other revealing expressions of Trump’s view of the distaff sex:
- About his Republican opponent, Carli Fiorina, he said, “Look at that face. Would anybody vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president? I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not supposed to say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?”
- About former world #1 tennis star Steffi Graf, Mr. Trump said, “You never get to the face because the body’s so good.”
- About talk show host Rosie O’Donnell, he said, “Can you imagine the parents of Kelli … when she said, ‘Mom, Dad, I just fell in love with a big, fat pig named Rosie?'”
- About #MeToo, Mr. Trump said, “You’ve got to deny, deny, deny and push back on these women. If you admit to anything and any culpability, then you’re dead. … You’ve got to be strong. You’ve got to be aggressive. You’ve got to push back hard. You’ve got to deny anything that’s said about you. Never admit.”
- About his daughter, Ivanka, he mused, “She does have a very nice figure … if [she] weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.” That is the cleanest publicly expressed reference to her that we can post here.
- And, when asked if his wife Melania was disfigured in an automobile accident, would he stay with her, the president asked, “How do the breasts look?”
But Mr. Trump’s favorite pejorative to describe women is “nasty.”
He uses it almost exclusively to describe women who stand up to him or challenge him in any way.
Trump called the prime minister of Denmark, Mette Frederiksen, “nasty” when she rebuffed his idea of buying Greenland as “absurd.”
When the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, called him “misogynistic” and “divisive,” Mr. Trump told The Sun newspaper, “I didn’t know she was nasty.”
(He later denied saying that, even though the paper had film to prove he did.)
After Mr. Trump made the unfounded assertion that Democrats instructed the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico to be “nasty” to him, Mayor Carman Yulin Cruz responded by wearing a T-shirt with the word “Nasty” printed on it for a TV interview a week later.
When he heard that Democratic presidential candidate and California Senator Kamala Harris had grilled U.S. Attorney-General Bill Barr during the Mueller Report hearings, Mr. Trump responded by saying, “She was probably very nasty.”
He even interrupted the final 2016 debate with Hillary Clinton to call her “a nasty woman,” leading many women angered by the sophomoric remark to adopt it as a nom de guerre, donning “Nasty Woman” shirts at rallies during the rest of the campaign.
Using Misogyny as Punishment
“Nasty,” according to Hofstra University Professor Kara Alaimo, is a way Mr. Trump reminds his supporters that he’s attempting to reverse years of gains women have made freeing themselves from their past roles serving men. Ms. Alaimo notes that ,“Indeed, after decades of feminist gains, the belief that women exist to cater to men’s egos and desires was — we had reason to believe — on its way out, until Trump revived it. Now, Trump signals too often through word and action that it is acceptable.”
She adds that Mr. Trump’s treatment of women isn’t narrowly definable as sexist, pointing to the fact he’s appointed a large number of women to senior positions in his administration, including appointing Gina Haspel, the first female director of the CIA and having the first female campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, to ever lead a successful major party presidential campaign. But it is misogynistic. And there is a difference.
A man who is sexist may not be misogynistic and vice versa. A sexist man, according to Cornell University professor of philosophy, Dr. Kate Manne, the author of “Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny”, may believe “in men’s superiority to women in masculine-coded, high-prestige domains (such as intellectual endeavors, sports, business, and politics), and the naturalness or even inevitability of men’s dominance therein. But he may love, support, protect and nurture women.”
A misogynist, on the other hand, may believe the sexes are equal and may even place women in high positions of authority, as Mr. Trump has done. But, as Dr. Manne argued in her book, a misogynist punishes women for not acting the way men expect them to act. And this is precisely how Mr. Trump behaves when women assert themselves in ways of which he does not approve.
When Omarosa Manigault, for example, was an enthusiastic supporter of his, Mr. Trump was full of praise for her. But when she spoke out against him, he referred to her as “that dog,” a clearly gender-specific insult directed at her womanhood. When Stormy Daniels, a woman with whom Mr. Trump allegedly paid to have sex, went public with their relationship, he called her “horseface.” And so on.
Dr. Manne wrote in her book the way to determine if a man is a misogynist is to determine if his actions towards women are the same as they would be towards men. Would he treat a man in a specific situation the same way he would treat a woman. If the answer is “no,” then it is likely the man is a misogynist. It is not necessary for them to hate all women or even most women, she writes.
In fact, it is possible for a misogynist to love his mother, daughter, sister and wife, so long as they conform to his vision of how women should behave. But, she wrote, misogynists “…tend to hate women who are outspoken, among other things.”
And this is exactly why Mr. Trump’s response to the testimony of the outspoken Ms. Yovanovitch was so measurably different than his response to the men who testified to the same things before her. She was a woman who forgot her place. And he’s a misogynist.