May 16, 2016 by swingstatevoter
On March 14, 2016, the New York Times published a front page article by Michael Barbaro and Megan Twohey regarding Donald Trump’s treatment of women throughout the past several decades. While the underlying flavor of the story attempted to portray Trump as having a very complex, and somewhat confusing, viewpoint of the women he has dated, met, married, and employed, Barbaro’s and Twohey’s story fell somewhat short of drawing a distinct conclusion about what the women’s experiences are to tell us about his character.
The above-the-fold story recapped female encounters with Trump – the presumptive Republican nominee for the 2016 presidential campaign – at parties, in the workplace, on his television show, at beauty pageants, and at dinners. Excerpts of interviews with these women indicated Trump has a pattern of making comments about women’s looks as a means of describing their viability as employees or to be his companion for an evening, and one could easily admit the comments are uncomfortable to read, at best.
There is a very strong conclusion one could draw for how Donald Trump’s comments toward these women paint a very dismal picture of his ability to see women as anything but a physical being with no depth or intelligence. However, the New York Times fell far short of explaining what the point of this article should have been. As a result, Trump has very easily been able to refute the story’s claims as partisan, fake, or misleading. With so much at stake for the leader of the country to be chosen in just a few months’ time, I am extremely disappointed and frustrated that a well-respected newspaper would spend so much time researching such an important topic and still leave a gaping hole through which the Trump Tornado could spin and destroy the argument at hand.
Make no mistake, a 40-year pattern of objectifying women’s bodies is a very strong indicator for how Donald Trump will treat the women of America in the four years ahead. How important is it that we, as citizens, evaluate this man’s ability to see women as having intellectual validity? As important as women obtaining pay equity, respect in the workplace, and even respect in our homes. A president has influence over culture and policy that can very possibly make or break how we women can maintain control of our way of life, and a man like Trump has clearly enabled the latent sexists in our country to feel justified in any feelings they may have that women are best seen and not heard.
Two days after the article was published, one of the women interviewed for the story, Rowanne Brewer Lane, publicly spoke about how her viewpoint was misrepresented by the story. Lane stated she had never felt humiliated or insulted by Trump’s comments about her body, or him asking her to undress and don a bathing suit before he took her out in front of a crowd of party goers and claimed, “That is a stunning Trump girl, isn’t it?” Trump proceeded to claim far and wide that Lane’s comments proved that women liked his praise for their bodies.
What Trump fails to understand is that simply because one woman doesn’t find his comments derogatory does not mean that every woman would feel the same way. This, in fact, is the very important distinction the New York Times story failed to make. Quite possibly, the failure to quantify the statements of every woman in that story as innately eclectic as the very electorate Donald Trump is attempting to win over mirrors, in essence, the exact mistake nearly every journalist has made throughout the entire Trump campaign.
That mistake, if uncorrected, will most certainly allow Trump to maintain an upper hand in the media and marketing game he is utilizing to try to win the White House.
Women have diverse feelings about everything, and what works for one does not necessarily work for another. We see this phenomenon with respect to abortion, decisions to work or to be a stay-at-home mom, education goals, and priorities in the work force. I have had the experience of receiving many comments from men in the workplace over the years about my face, my body, my hair, and my wardrobe – all of which tend to make me uncomfortable. I have been in a professional corporate environment for nearly 20 years, and I still have to advise men on a regular basis that I take my career and my relationship with my future husband very seriously; which is a very succinct message that, at times, is not received well.
To be very clear, comments from male co-workers regarding the way I walk, asking if I had gotten my fiancé’s permission to dye my hair, or stating I have the face of a pinup girl are unwelcome advances directly related to my outward appearance (not to mention, the hair comment is quite demeaning about my ability to make everyday choices). Personally, these comments make me uncomfortable and have at times made me question my role in the company, despite the fact that I have reached the level of Vice President.
The reasons I find such comments disruptive and demeaning have to do with my personal experiences and specific goals I have for my own life. I completely understand other women may not agree, and may actually find the same comments to be purely complimentary and not at all threatening. Thus, one should never assume what is acceptable for one woman works for all women.
However, Donald Trump operates on a very narcissistic level and does not have an ability to separate the things that benefit him from the actions or statements that diminish his own arguments. Trump’s defense of his actions and his derogatory comments toward women’s looks or intelligence for the past 40 years is solely based upon his ability to name 50 women who would state they aren’t put off by his behavior. Let us not forget, however, each of us is fully justified in our feelings about how others speak to us, and the acceptance of Trump’s actions by Rowanne Brewer Lane does not in any way negate the feelings of any other woman who had been profiled in the New York Times article.
Essentially, out of 50 women the NYT interviewed, one of them has claimed she was comfortable with Trump’s actions. 49 have not stated the same. Levels of discomfort among those 49 women is likely to be varied, as well. Therefore, one could safely assume the 50 women who contributed to the story last weekend are equally justified in their feelings about Trump, and the feelings of one should not overshadow the validity of the other 49.
Suffice it to say, even if Trump were to find 1,000 women who welcomed his advances, those thousand women would not in any way provide a carte blanche excuse for any man assuming all women would support those same advances.