Trump’s racist statements and Tweets in the aftermath of the El Paso shooting were an appalling new low for the worst President in modern American history. At this point it’s no secret that Trump’s cult of followers want revenge for decades of being made to feel guilty for their bigotry and narrowmindedness. But it’s also becoming increasingly clear that misogyny plays a large part in the Trump phenomenon. It’s not just racism and homophobia. The hatred of women is also part of a larger cultural nexus of related pathologies tied to Trumpism. It’s no coincidence that fundamentalist Christianity, the Proud Boy movement, the Incel community, the anti-abortion extremists, and aging white conservatives share a disdain for women and support Trump. And it’s also becoming clear that mass shooters share in common a hatred of women. A fascinating and important article appeared in the New York Times over the weekend that illuminated this correlation.
The motivations of men who commit mass shootings are often muddled, complex or unknown. But one common thread that connects many of them — other than access to powerful firearms — is a history of hating women, assaulting wives, girlfriends and female family members, or sharing misogynistic views online, researchers say.
Consider how the conservative hate machine has treated women over the past two decades. Pick any female in the public sphere and right-wing media has surely painted her as a disgusting harpy–aggressive and unattractive and unwomanly. Hillary Clinton is the most obvious example but the list also includes Geraldine Ferraro, Janet Reno, Susan Rice, Nancy Pelosi and Michelle Obama. Liberal men are not generally treated to the same level of sustained rage and character assassination as the women, and this has continued under Trump. His nastiest venom is reserved for women, starting with Rosie O’Donnell and Maxine Waters and most recently focused on The Squad–Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley. And his lifetime record of philandering and skirt-chasing (and molesting and possibly raping) signals the same disregard for women.
The target audience for the public disdain of women is men who, for a variety of reasons, feel that their lives would be better if women behaved differently, whether it’s women no longer competing with men in the workforce or women accepting sexual objectification and advances or women embracing second-class status in worldly affairs.
In other words, conservative misogyny springs from toxic masculinity. Many men on the right have a warped, antiquated and toxic sense of their own role in life. They overvalue themselves and undervalue women. They cling to the paradigm of conquest in an age of cooperation. They see relationships as leader/follower instead of co-equal. And they resist any redefinition of their own rigid gender sense.
These are very deep issues–fault lines in American society that have been chafing since the 1960s–but they are very much in the open now. A disease can’t be cured without a proper diagnosis, and we have to call the conservative movement on its misogyny as well as its racism and homophobia. Only then will we have a chance for a positive shift.
Meanwhile, keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”