Hillary, Not Monica: John Sununu, Donald Trump, And Misogyny In 2016

Misogyny. One of the saddest moments for me in the run-up to Tuesday’s election is reading this morning of a joke that John Sununu–a 77-year-old Trump surrogate, former governor of New Hampshire, former chief of staff to George H.W. Bush, and a member of Mensa (!)–delivered to a gathering of New Hampshire Republicans, in which he said (grotesquely) that when Bill Clinton declared he “did not have sex with that woman,” he was talking, not about Monica, but Hillary.


Who cracks a joke like that at a gathering of men and women together–and the women not leave the room? That’s not Hillary hatred, that’s woman hatred. And yet nobody left the room, male or female. If that joke had been made by a manager in a workplace among a gathering of men and women, that manager would (rightly) be removed from a position of responsibility.

Yet this is a Trump surrogate in 2016–and Trump himself almost certainly won’t even be bothered to comment on it, nor will he be asked about it. It’s just one more thing to shrug at, apparently, as if to say, “The voters will decide Tuesday.”

But the Sununu incident really brought to the fore for me exactly how proudly and brazenly misogynistic Republicans have become in this election cycle–literally daring voters to abandon them for their expressions of disrespect, indifference, and hatred toward women–all the while showing themselves to be supremely confident that women won’t.

There’s something deeply, deeply wrong with our country if the women living here do not decisively vote this down at the polls on Tuesday. If Republicans are rewarded with all three branches of the federal government after all that has gone on this year, I don’t understand the country. And yet the most recent New York Times poll has white women splitting their votes 50-50 between Hillary and Trump.

How can this be?

It recalls what Umberto Eco, who grew up in Mussolini’s Italy, wrote in 1995 as one of the characteristics of what he coins Ur-Fascism (base fascism; the fascism that has ebbed and flowed throughout the ages). Eco observes that, in Ur-Fascism, machismo extends not just to “war and heroism,” but to a “will to power” in “sexual matters,” a “disdain for women,” and a playing “with weapons…[as] an ersatz phallic exercise.”

A majority of white American men have made their preference clear as noon that they’re just fine with a revival of this sort of fascist-style machismo in America, and for Trump to be its standard bearer, translating it from culture into politics. But are there really not enough white women in the country to join women of color to block this? Will Hillary really just pull half of the votes of white women this year–and perhaps lose the election because of it?

I would never have believed it a year ago. I’m wondering now.


About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
This entry was posted in atheism, Bernie Sanders, donald trump, feminism, hillary clinton, Politics, Ted Cruz, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Hillary, Not Monica: John Sununu, Donald Trump, And Misogyny In 2016

  1. George Bush says:

    Compromised much? Just ugly?

  2. Staffan says:

    Trump is clearly an unpleasant person, but maybe women who vote for him look more at the issues. If misogyny is a great concern they may not want to flood the country with immigrants from developing countries. We know what that has done for Europe. Here in Sweden we’ve seen a dramatic rise in sex crime, and most victims are women. We have an even more staggering rise in murder. Both trends coincide with the recent migrant “crisis.” Misogynist jokes look pretty harmless in comparison.

    And the implication that there is something strange about women who vote for a misogynist candidate is if not misogyny itself (which I doubt in your case) then at least a very limited view on women. Most of them can distinguish between the person and the political issues, and many, thankfully, believe the issues are more important.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Trump is unpleasant, I agree. But I’m not sure it’s that simple, Staffan, to divide repugnant behavior or beliefs from substantive issues.

      For instance, there are statistical correlations between individuals who espouse conspiracy theories and the rejection of climate science. Likewise, if you’re a misogynist in your personal life, you’re unlikely to be much of a champion of women’s equality generally.

      I think the thing I’m trying to absorb is that authoritarian oriented temperaments, whether male or female, more or less tolerate or relish in misogyny at about the same levels.

      And I suppose that if one salivates to stories in church of a male deity smiting Canaanites, I suppose you’ll do the same in response to the daily tales of smiting by an alpha male like (the future) President Trump. It just feels good to be smitten over a smiter–and to be on his side while the smiting is happening. I have little doubt that if Trump wins, he’ll keep his base solid and catch the imagination of fence-sitters, reaching high approval numbers–as Putin does in Russia.

      So maybe the signal in the noise here is not gender and voting, but temperament and voting. Temperament is highly heritable, and so if 40% of the population is temperamentally authoritarian for complicated evolutionary reasons (submission to alpha males and tribal conformity impulses have survival value, etc.), there may not be much budging of that group toward a feminist candidate regardless of how authoritarian and boorish the other candidate is.

      It’s chimp vs. bonobo.

      I would note that in the years immediately following Hitler’s election, he was popular. I think the Trump era, if he wins, will start with a lot of “winning,” but it will change the character of the country, and will make for a bad end.

      So collective evolutionary strategy is at stake in democratic elections. Will we be a tribe that is more open or closed to the outside world? It’s a subtext, obviously, in every election–and even in architecture. If you salivate to cellular and fortress architecture, you’re probably not keen on immigration.

  3. Anonymous says:

    If you don’t like the authoritarian temperament you should oppose immigration. It’s stronger in all non-Western countries. Enlightenment ideals never caught on much outside Northwestern Europe. Now you import those who rejected these ideals and hope they will transmogrify when crossing the border. Instead you get crime poverty and crime. Why do you suppose the biggest party in Sweden is the nationalist party? I think most people would agree Swedes have a fairly docile temperament. Could it be that they, along with plenty of Americans, are seeing the problems with immigration getting worse and worse and finally realize that they have to respond? So it’s not bonobo vs chimp. It’s that some bonobos look down on others and naively invite hoards of violent chimps. (Although in reality bonobos are not as nice as you think.)

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the only countries doing well are those with White or East Asian majority populations. It’s hardly a coincidence that these populations have the highest intelligence. What is happening in both America (and to some extent Europe as well) is the creation of a non-White (and of course non-East Asian) majority. Unless America will be the exception to the rule – and why would you? – this means you’ll be as miserable as other low IQ countries.

    Working class Americans see this more clearly. Partly because, as you correctly point out, they have the same temperament, but not by far as much as low-skilled and illegal immigrants. Partly, because their socio-economic situation gives them first-hand experience of the decline. That said, if you had a more of a scout mindset, you’d see it too: SJWs at the universities objecting to dissenting views and in all sorts of ways showing how they’re not ok with free speech and other human rights. A handful of academics, like Jonathan Haidt, Gad Saad, and others, are fighting this but most are either in favor of it or blind to the problem. Needless to say, blindness has never protected anyone from what they can’t see.

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