In denouncing Trump's misogyny, Republicans show their sexism
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Indiana Gov. Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceMueller coverage keeps missing its mark, as BuzzFeed debacle shows Obama puts out call for service on MLK Day: ‘Make a positive impact on the world’ Lady Gaga blasts Pence as ‘worst representation of what it means to be Christian’ MORE apparently has a wife and a couple of daughters. Senator John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanOn The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions Overnight Defense: Trump faces blowback over report he discussed leaving NATO | Pentagon extends mission on border | Senate advances measure bucking Trump on Russia sanctions MORE of Arkansas is related to even more women: a wife, three daughters, and two granddaughters. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham angers Dems by digging into Clinton, Obama controversies Senate GOP eyes 'nuclear option' for Trump nominees next week Taiwan’s President Tsai should be invited to address Congress MORE has a trio of daughters from his first marriage, which suggests a first and a second wife, and, I’m just guessing here, a mother, which is probably also true of Boozman and Pence.

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House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanTrump once asked Paul Ryan why he couldn’t be ‘loyal': book AEI names Robert Doar as new president GOP can't excommunicate King and ignore Trump playing to white supremacy and racism MORE may or may not be related to women (although I seem to recall something about a wife and children from an earlier campaign), but he believes that “women are to be championed and revered, not objectified.”

After the latest “shocking” (everyone feign your surprise) revelations of Republican presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump claims media 'smeared' students involved in encounter with Native American man Al Sharpton criticizes Trump’s ‘secret’ visit to MLK monument Gillibrand cites spirituality in 2020 fight against Trump’s ‘dark’ values MORE’s misogynist sense of feudal entitlement (droit de seigneur) to women’s bodies, some of his Republican colleagues have condemned his remarks, like proverbial rats trying to abandon a sinking ship.

What Donald said on a “hot mic” to Billy Bush is despicable (as is Billy’s easy abetting pleasure), and the ongoing courageous revelations by women who were mauled by Trump are certainly deplorable. But, Trump’s outrageous words are only slightly more crass than everything we’ve already known about the amoral magnate — everything that so many congressional Republicans have chosen to look past as they lined up to kiss his ring and endorse his candidacy.

Before we now praise infamous men for finally finding some moral high ground (it’s pretty low ground, actually) on which to make their last stand, we should recognize that their late renunciations of the billionaire bigot come in the wake of Team Trump’s sinking in the polls.

I’m sure there is some sincerity mixed with the cold political calculation of not wanting to be tied to a drowning loser, but, in their condemnation, they also repeat the kinds of objectification of women that enable and embolden a cretin like Trump to grope their wives and daughters in the first place.

None of the politicians have yet distanced himself from Trump’s reprehensible words and ways by saying: Because I had a father who came of age in the era of “Mad Men” ... Because I have brothers and cousins who sometimes say shameful things when no woman is around ... Because I have sons, and nephews, and grandsons who need to hear a man insist loudly that such attitudes and actions are vile and to be reviled.

They don’t count the number of people they know with penises or grabby hands, but they do cite their familial relations to people with vaginas.

Trump’s running buddy, Mike Pence, objects as a “husband and a father;” Mitch McConnell objects as “the father of three daughters;” Boozman as “a husband, a father of three daughters, and grandfather of two precious little girls;” and Ryan, well, the speaker of the House simply thinks that women are to be championed and revered — that’s his heroic role as a man and a congressman.

If this chivalric form of objectifying women seems less pernicious than Trump’s marquee brand of harassment, it nonetheless reflects a feudal sense of entitlement to one’s own women — a relationship of power and a claim of ownership over those special women (and their bodies) who happen to be related to them, who deserve their protection, their reverence, their champions.

And, in any case, these rhetorical acts of chivalry fly in the face of their legislative acts of misogyny.

I realize that announcing the obvious (that their families include women) is supposed to convey a sense of solidarity or an air of empathy for sexist incivilities and sexual crimes committed against women and girls. But such empathy is, at best, superficial if it’s limited to loved ones.

Speaking in the name of close women, these politicians condemn the “private” misconduct of a single private citizen without acknowledging or questioning the role of the public policies they promote everyday in normalizing sexism and attacking women.

To put it in terms that Trump might understand: legislatively speaking, Pence, Ryan, McConnell and the radical Republican right have been “grabbing women by the p---y” (or the purse) for a long time.

As Katha Pollitt wrote recently: “Trump thinks women are b--ches and bimbos, Pence thinks they’re fetal vessels. It’s two kinds of misogyny on a single ticket.”

Pence, Ryan, and McConnell have all sought to undermine Roe v. Wade — under a Trump administration, Pence bragged, it will be “consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs.”

In the meantime, all of them have pushed to defund Planned Parenthood and dramatically restrict access to abortion, even in cases where a woman’s health may be at stake. All of them repeatedly voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and McConnell voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

The list, sadly, goes on and on, and is well documented in the pieces I’ve linked and elsewhere. If this were an election about policies and promises, we would be talking about the Republican’s groping legislative agenda.

Without governmental power, Donald Trump has been limited to assaulting one woman at a time, although he promises bigger things to come. Pence, Ryan, McConnell and the rest of their sexist rat pack seem to find Trump’s approach too slow — grab them all at once, the Republican party platform seems to say.

In retracting his endorsement, John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGrassley to test GOP on lowering drug prices Listen, learn and lead: Congressional newcomers should leave the extremist tactics at home Overnight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal MORE declared that Donald Trump “alone bears the burden of his conduct and alone should suffer the consequences.”

That’s a nice try, senator, to avoid going down with the sinking ship!

And while I do respect you for underscoring Trump’s “outrageous” anti-law-and-order accusations against “the innocent men in the Central Park Five Case” as part of your rationale for finally cutting the cord, you (and the locker-room boys you caucus with) are legislative accomplices in the assault on women.

You should all be held accountable, not only for getting in the deplorable basket with an unconvicted serial sexual predator, but also for masking misogyny under the cover of law.

Slaughter is an associate professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.


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