Why you should care
Because the tables are about to turn.
Pooja Bhatia is an OZY editor and writer. She has written for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and the Economist, and was once the mango-eating champion of Port-au-Prince.
What with the bad hombres, nasty woman and no-puppets, This Week in Trump has amounted to an embarrassment of riches (or an embarrassment of embarrassments, depending on where you stand). But one of his lines stands out for posterity — not just because it was syntactically coherent, but because by uttering it, Donald Trump finally jumped the goddamn shark.
“No one respects women more than I do,” he said at the candidates’ final debate. With that, the Republican nominee managed to do three things at once: He invoked a dystopia, pounded the final nail in his coffin and made women all over the world simultaneously guffaw and throw up in their mouths. Quite the accomplishment!
Over a mere two weeks, the American presidential election has become an outright referendum on the patriarchy. Yes, it’s been only two weeks since the “grab-’em-by-the-pussy” tape, and even less time since a trickle, and then flood, of women came forward to accuse Trump of assaults ranging from peeping and groping to outright rape. But in politics, matters can unravel and re-ravel quickly. Now, a vote for Donald is a vote for misogyny.
To be sure, gender galvanized many Hillary Clinton supporters early on — as early, in fact, as 1992, when she said she wouldn’t stand by her man but did anyway. Conversely, many Americans didn’t need a tape or assault allegations to sense that Donald was repugnant. After all, he’d already said terrible things about women — plus Muslims, Mexicans, Black people, brown people, POWs and, oh, the rule of law.
But in retrospect, it all seems too perfect, too crystalline. Here we are, on the eve of an election that could (please, God!) result in America’s first female president — and her rival is patriarchy embodied! It’s as though Barack Obama were running against David Duke in 2008. Far-fetched, you say? Okay, it’s as though Trump’s supporters were calling to repeal the 19th amendment — oh, wait, they are.
We’re trying, hard as we can, to look ahead and imagine a world in which the most powerful person has two X chromosomes, like we do. We fantasize about a welter of progress: closing the gender wage gap, support for working moms and caregivers, safe access to abortion and birth control, respect for rape kits. Even so, we also remember that a woman in the White House (please, God!) will not singlehandly vanquish sexism, any more than our first Black president eradicated racism.
But it will have a luscious irony: Donald will have been her handmaiden.