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Est. April 5, 2002
October 20, 2016 - Issue 671

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Political Misogyny
In the Age of Trump

"Trump’s pattern of behavior has spread
across the nation among both Republicans
and Democrats and, more importantly,
has exposed existing forms of misogyny
where women are being abused in the
political arena.  Moreover, he created a
political zone for the denigration of women
when they have the nerve to compete for
political power and/or to demand
respect as human beings."

Political Misogyny in New Jersey Running Amuck: George Norcross, South Jersey political boss, and his puppet, New Jersey Senate President, Steve Sweeney, began to escalate their misogyny last Friday. Angered by some Democratic leaders’ refusal to fully support a legislative agenda authored by Norcross (for his benefit and Gov. Christie’s) and their rebuff of Norcross’s directive that they line up behind Sweeney in the 2017 gubernatorial race, forcing him to drop out, Norcross and Sweeney are “misogynistically wilding out” against Democratic legislative female leaders. Below are a few examples:

  • Last Friday, Sweeney fired African American Sen. Nia Gill as chair of the Senate Commerce Committee which she had ably chaired for ten years through several Senate Presidents, an unprecedented move before the end of a legislative session, and he removed her from the committee altogether. Sweeney replaced her with Sen. Nellie Pou, a Latina, as a way to mute racial pushback. (Many were surprised that Sen. Pou would participate in this political assassination of another female.) In addition to her pushing back against the Norcross health care bills that enriched Camden’s Norcross-controlled Cooper Hospital and an insurance company he owns, and her vigorous opposition against the funding cut for women’s health, which disproportionately affects poor women, Sen. Gill was also punished for being an early supporter of Ambassador Phil Murphy‘s bid for the 2017 Democratic gubernatorial nomination when no one thought he had a chance. The Oranges & Maplewood NAACP chapter has already expressed its concern about Sen. Gill’s ouster.

  • Norcross and Sweeney are also determining how they can reprimand Senate Majority Leader, Loretta Weinberg, because the two Assemblypersons Gordon Johnson and Valerie Huttle, who serve under and are loyal to her, endorsed Murphy early. Norcross feels they did so with Weinberg’s permission and support since she was present at the announcements. A problem they are having is that they are running out of credible Democratic females to replace their targeted Democratic women leaders.

  • Norcross and Sweeney have likewise instigated the rumor that Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto will not stand for reelection as Speaker, and Norcross has already selected his successor, hoping to force him out, all because Prieto opposed them on their cancellation of the teachers’ pension amendment and that he threw his support behind Murphy.

Meanwhile, Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter is continuing to trend as a leading candidate for Lt. Governor on the Democratic ticket. The politics of now require that Ambassador Murphy select a woman as his running mate. The practice has been set by both parties since the position was added.

During the primary and general election run of Donald Trump for the presidency of the United States, misogyny (the contempt, disrespect, objectification, etc. of women) has been rampant across the political spectrum. Trump demeaned Carly Fiorina, a fellow candidate, for her looks, during the primary, and several print and broadcast media female reporters for not being deferential and daring to ask him tough questions during his campaign appearances. In addition, he summarily dismissed a female reporter’s allegation that his then campaign manager, Cory Lewandowski, had physically grabbed her although the video of the incident was available for all to see. The general public acknowledged Trump’s excesses in this regard but largely gave him a pass.

Only when a 2005 video tape appeared whose audio portion revealed that Trump readily admitted, without prompting, that he could have his way with women because he was a “star”—including “kissing them and forcing his tongue down their throats without their permission or cooperation, hitting on married women shortly after his third marriage, grabbing them by their p***y, and walking in unannounced into dressing rooms of his beauty pageant contestants while they were naked or half clad (repeated in two broadcast venues).” When confronted with these transgressions, he first gave a half-hearted apology and a subsequent fuller one while claiming that former President Bill Clinton had done much worse.

Trump’s pattern of behavior has spread across the nation among both Republicans and Democrats and, more importantly, has exposed existing forms of misogyny where women are being abused in the political arena. Moreover, he created a political zone for the denigration of women when they have the nerve to compete for political power and/or to demand respect as human beings. Trump’s misogyny has caused women to coalesce in electoral races at every level of government, and the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate is likely to shift to Democrats due to a massive vote of females against misogynistic candidates.

Not since 1992 have women shown their disgust against misogyny in national elections for the U.S. House and Senate when the Democrats increased their majorities in both bodies. At the 1991hearings for Clarence Thomas’s appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court, Anita Hill’s claims that Thomas had sexually harassed her galvanized and polarized the nation. After the presentation of numerous witnesses, an overwhelming majority of women across racial and ethnic groups believed that Hill was mistreated and disrespected during the inquiry. They felt that Thomas was given a pass and approved for the position despite overwhelming evidence that he committed sexual harassment.

One year later in 1992, women exacted retribution when they were the deciding votes in the largest class of women ever to enter the U.S. Congress. In that group were the first African American woman elected to the U.S. Senate (from Illinois) and the first women in Congressional delegations from several other states. All polls point to women repeating these actions in the 2016 national and statewide elections and being largely responsible for picking the first American female president.

Political misogyny has fueled the campaign of Hillary Clinton in her race against Donald Trump in the aftermath of his disgusting comments about women during the past month. And Trump’s doubling down on these condescending anti-female statements has expanded Clinton’s lead in polls by a cross-section of pollsters. His extreme narcissism prevents him from accepting blame for any of his misogynistic actions and has resulted in a precipitous decline in his support among women and many men.

In Pennsylvania, Atty. Katie McGinty, a Democrat, who is running for the U.S. Senate against the incumbent Republican, Sen. Pat Toomey, has been propelled into a dead heat in recent polls by the support of women. Toomey has refused to take a position on Trump’s candidacy as support for his reelection crumbles. He is trying to walk a tightrope, hoping to retain hard-core Trump supporters while not alienating Republican and Democratic women. So far, his strategy is not working, but Toomey is hanging tough.

In Arizona, Republican Sen. John McCain, in federal office for 30 years, has recently renounced Trump after Hillary Clinton surged into the lead in a state which has traditionally voted Republican. Facing a female Democratic opponent, McCain finally saw the light and resurrected his pro-women credentials. Next door, U.S. Republican Senate candidate, Rep. Joe Heck, is in a tight race with former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto. Heck did not withdraw his endorsement of Donald Trump until after the release of the 2005 videotape. Masto is poised to win on the strength of her current 2.3 lead over Heck and Hillary’s seven point lead over Trump in the polls.

Democratic Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel modified his misogynistic attitude toward Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President, Karen Lewis, during the 2016 contract negotiations, unlike his hateful and disparaging comments toward her when the 2012 contract was settled. But one of the worst and continuing assaults on women is occurring in North Carolina where incumbent Republican Gov. Pat McCrory has led a four-year targeting of teachers and education support personnel, more than two-thirds of whom are women.

He has underfunded schools; laid-off more than 4,000 teacher aides and paraprofessionals; eliminated tenure; and depressed teacher salaries to the point that North Carolina now ranks 41st in the nation. McCrory has trailed his Democratic opponent since the beginning of the race, and the female Democratic Senate candidate, Deborah Ross, is running even against a two-term officeholder who has been in national office for more than two decades. The aforementioned Democratic candidates’ competiveness is primarily based on the support of women due to their response to rampant misogyny.

The 2016 national and state elections may well turn into a wave election for Democrats. Past and present misogyny is spurring women, who make up approximately fifty-three percent of all voters, to take control of their political lives. No longer are they willing to acquiesce to the rampant misogyny that has been foisted upon them. It is time for male leaders to take heed. Maybe they will after the 2016 elections.

links to all 20 parts of the opening series Columnist, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH, is a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has written widely on vouchers, charter schools, and public school privatization. He has served as Professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and as Professor of Educational Policy and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Contact Dr. Farrell. 

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