On TrumpTapes, “Power”, and the hypocrisy of Democrats and Republicans
It’s quite unfortunate that the first piece of writing I plan to publish on this website is about Donald Trump, but as a feminist, I am compelled to impress upon the seriousness of the contents in the Trump Tapes.
The hypocrisy of the Republican establishment:
The much-deserved backlash against Trump’s remarks from the recently published 2005 recordings is a particularly interesting one, as it has received wide condemnation from within his own party.
Republicans have essentially made their careers legislating women’s bodies. Prime example would be defunding Planned Parenthood, an essential system for women’s reproductive health care and support for victims of rape. This should be indicative that the Republican establishment does not actually care about systemic violence against women. They care because Trump’s horrific comments have besmirched the face of the GOP by openly and crudely expressing the misogynistic value systems they embody regarding women. If they had cared about violence against women, they would have never have helped him win the Republican nomination considering the numerous accounts of women accusing Trump of rape this past year.
Additionally, none of these men have illustrated the capacity to even imagine women as people who exist outside the parameters of men. The subtly possessive language of “our women”, “our daughters”, “parent of teenage daughter”, “my wife” should clue anyone in on how Republicans view women, even if it is “their” white women.
The hypocrisy of the Republican AND Democratic establishment:
There is ridiculous discourse floating about among the liberal-left that the GOP’s outrage at Trump’s misogynistic comments has to do with the fact that it was at the expense of a white woman. Jill Harth and Ivana Trump are pretty white the last time I checked. No, the problem for the Republican establishment is not and never was that Trump is a misogynist, even to white women. It’s the fact that the recordings explicitly have him admitting to degrading, objectifying and sexually assaulting women and there is no way to refute that. Women accusing men of rape have always been disregarded or subjected to ridicule and dismissal because we live in a patriarchal world where men perceive women’s voices as inherently cunning, manipulative, “shrill” or doubtful.
However, there is something far more insidious going on with the Trump Tapes and it’s got to do with Trump’s graphic admission to utilising his power that comes with fame.
Trump: I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
Bush: Whatever you want.
Trump: Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.
One of the important values of critiquing oppressive systems of power is, quite literally, critiquing “power”. But the responses below are not bothered by the oppressive presence of capitalist patriarchal power but rather Trump’s “abuse” of power.
This is the quintessential problem with liberalism; Of course the abuse of power is not okay, but they are not even remotely interested in challenging power, or how this very same power has been weaponised to bash the Left by the Democratic party. “Power” is not neutral; It is politically charged to uphold the values of white supremacist imperialist capitalist patriarchy. Similarly from a feminist perspective, liberal feminism would rather have women achieve the status of honorary men and share the power enjoyed and abused by men under patriarchy, rather than challenge the existence of male power in the first place. The point being, if Trump had not abused this power, Democrats and Republicans alike are perfectly content with the existence of such power.
Preserving power is their priority, not challenging or even mildly questioning it. Liberal feminism is quite satisfied with waxing social justice rhetoric against capitalist patriarchy but hesitates to mobilise against its material roots, as they theorise that such aggressive direct action to be “just as bad” as the violent State. It is then obvious that, not only are they doing the work of the State by maintaining the status quo by dismissing any resistance from the Left, they have fundamentally not understood what “power” is and how it operates under oppressive systems. Liberal feminism protects the use and abuse of power, even if it means abusing other women. Sure, they may not say it in such explicit terms, but that is essentially what it comes down to; the opportunity to freely join and use the power of white supremacist imperialist capitalist patriarchy. This is glaringly transparent by the sheer joy and excitement of neoliberal feminists championing a Hillary Clinton presidency.
Essentially, when the Left labels Hillary Clinton as the “most powerful woman in the world”, it is not a compliment.
A (small) feminist analysis for liberals:
Now, if we’re committed to the cause of defeating white supremacist imperialist capitalist patriarchy, here’s a few pointers:
Firstly: stop legitimising the discourse that “people now care about rape because it’s a white woman”. To say something as awful about a woman who was sexually assaulted to signal your supposedly better politics as a Democrat is astoundingly insulting, and quite frankly, anti-feminist. In a world where women are subject to mockery, shame or almost never receive justice for being sexually assaulted, regardless of political affiliation, race or class, women all over deserve our support. That’s feminism, baby.
Secondly: Trump is not an anomaly. He conforms to everyday hegemonic toxic masculinity that is symptomatic of white capitalist patriarchy. His words and style of speech is openly masculine in its linearity and holds threats of violence against women and people of colour. However, Trump’s personality is so cartoonishly villainous that, while it is sensible to abhor him, he is far too convenient, too easy, for liberals to hate. His rhetoric of violent dominance erases the nuanced manner in which male violence against women manifests under patriarchy. Similarly, it obstructs any harsh and nuanced criticism of Bill Clinton’s past with women and the Clinton campaign itself because liberals feel the fear (and rightly so) of Trump. Analysing every interaction with men under the context of capitalist patriarchy, even the “good men”, is necessary in liberating women as a class.
A feminism that rationalises the power of white supremacist imperialist capitalist patriarchy as long as marginalised groups get a fair shot at utilising it is not feminism. A feminism that cynically uses a story of a women who has been violated by a member of the opposing party to prop themselves up as a superior party is not feminism; It is hypocrisy. It is an affront to social justice. It is neoliberal feminism. It is corporate feminism. And it is doing an excellent job in selling us out to the jaws of our oppression.
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