The Atlantic - June 25, 2019
... Trump, after all, has deployed the logic of “She’s not my type” many times before, in attempting to defend himself from charges of sexual misconduct. He used a similar dismissalas a presidential candidate in October 2016, after the former People magazine journalist Natasha Stoynoff accused him of attacking her—“He was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat,” she said—during an interview she had conducted with him at Mar-a-Lago, in 2005:
Take a look. You take a look. Look at her. Look at her words. You tell me what you think. I don’t think so.
Trump used the defense as well in response to Jessica Leeds, who accused him of groping her while the two were seated next to each other on an airplane in the early 1980s. (“He was like an octopus … His hands were everywhere,” Leeds described the alleged incident to The New York Times.) Here is Trump, at a 2016 campaign rally, responding to Leeds’s allegation:
Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you. You don’t know. That would not be my first choice.
The crowd, delighted at this, cheered.
There is, as always, a certain clarity to Trump’s cruelty. The president seems to understand, on some level, something profoundly true about the creaking mechanics of misogyny: Sexual abuse is not, ultimately, about sexual attraction. It is about power. It is about one person’s exertion of will over another. In this way, “She’s not my type” is deeply entangled with the president’s long-standing habit of dismissing unruly women through his negative assessments of their attractiveness: the women as the sexual commodities, Donald Trump as the discerning consumer.
So when he is mocking women’s appearances—as he has done with Rosie O’Donnell and Carly Fiorina and Arianna Huffington and Bette Midler and Mika Brzezinski and Stormy Daniels and Heidi Cruz and Heidi Klum and so very many others—Trump is not, ultimately, talking about their looks. He is talking, via jokes about fat pigs and ugly dogs, about the women’s relative ability to please men (specifically, the one man he seems to care about: himself). He is attempting, with some desperation—“fat pig” is not typically evidence of a tranquil mind at work—to defend the status quo that has thus far arranged itself so neatly around his own desires. He is working, with the aid of petty insults, to protect a patriarchal system, the very one that is threatened when women such as E. Jean Carroll come forward to declare their refusal to serve as the passive recipients of men’s roving will.
This is how, in 2018, The New York Times summed up Trump’s repeated attempts to diminish the women who refuse to comply with him:
Mr. Trump has accused women of having “fat, ugly” faces and of repelling voters because of their looks. He called one woman a “crazed, crying lowlife” and said another was a “dog” who had the “face of a pig.” He said Hillary Clinton’s bathroom break during a 2015 presidential debate was “too disgusting” to talk about. He has repeatedly mocked women for being overweight.
The rhetoric here may be singular; it is also familiar. You can see the same strain of panic on display among the men who protested when the women of their own times argued for a measure of equality. In 1866, the Albany Evening Journal mocked a group of women asking for a constitutional amendment “prohibiting disfranchising citizens on grounds of sex”: Those women, it speculated, must “have hook-billed noses, crow’s feet under their sunken eyes, and a mellow tinting of the hair.” A century later, Esquire defined feminism as “a bunch of ugly women screaming at each other on television.” Newscasts ran punnily scoffing chyrons like “Women Are Revolting.” The writer Norman Mailer, prior to debating the Australian feminist Germaine Greer, informed her, upon seeing her in person, “You’re better looking than I thought.” ...
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