Female Misogyny: Trump’s Women Voters



I want to talk about misogyny. Not your default, patronizing, overtly sexist misogyny of the Mad Men male. Not even your blatant, boorish, intimidating misogyny of the sort we have seen gorilla knuckling around media platforms this last year and a half. No, I am talking about female misogyny: the mistrust, denigration, and fear of women—especially powerful women—by other women.

Female misogyny elbowed its crude way into my head during the primary season, when (like Stephen Colbert, I gag to say his name) Donald Trump let loose the first of his galling attacks on “the fairer sex.” We know the litany of those attacks like Catholics know their prayers: Megyn Kelly and Carly Fiorina, Rosie O’Donnell and Ariana Huffington, the beauty queen Alicia Machado. Fat. Pig. Slob. Dog. Disgusting animal. And then, the gloriously transparent and full-frontal video that ankled its way out of its cement footbath last week to resurface in the Washington Post. As each of these reality TV/Howard Stern episodes revealed its tawdry head on national television, there sat at the rallies, behind Il Duce II, the exuberant, waving, white women.


What are these women thinking? I ask myself. How can they, in the 21st century, support an ape like Donald Trump? How can they laugh and jeer at his comments about women’s menstrual periods and dogfaces and piggy bodies? How can they ignore that video in which he crows about kissing women without their consent, grabbing them by the pussy, and appropriating them for his use like some disposable object?

I have come to the conclusion that such female Trump supporters—palpitating to the image of a strongman, in the grip of their hope for a Messiah (always male) to redeem us of our presumed collapse into liberal perfidy, so hopelessly indoctrinated by our patriarchal culture—such women automatically display a deep and innate suspicion of powerful women who dare to demand rights for other women. Such women have a deep-seated misogyny against their own sex.

No, you might argue, it is just a clash between conservative values and liberal values. Some of these women might have supported Carly Fiorina after all. Except that Carly Fiorina—offering equally feeble qualifications for the top office in the land as her main rival—was easily and early on swept away by Trump, despite the backlash for denigrating her looks on national television.

The most disturbing and startling manifestation of female misogyny shouted out to me from my Facebook page yesterday. It was an echo of the mob mentality Trump’s followers have displayed when calling for Hillary Clinton’s arrest over the supposed criminality of deleting those emails. And it came from my twin sister, a Franciscan nun. My sister had shared a clip showing the moment Donald Trump, during the second town-hall style presidential debate, growled at Hillary, “You’d be in jail.” A friend of my sister’s replied to the post, saying that she’d stood up and cheered when Trump threatened Hillary with imprisonment. My sister “liked” the reply and agreed that she had cheered too.

We are talking about a Catholic nun, folks. What does it take for a nun to support a man whom the Pope himself declared not a Christian? An adulterous husband with children from three different women? A man who perpetrated a dangerous and defamatory lie about our president’s birth? A self-proclaimed billionaire who has swindled contractors and workers, has lost several fortunes on bad business deals, and almost certainly has not paid federal income taxes for twenty years? A xenophobic man who identifies with Vladimir Putin and vows to build a wall on the Mexican border to keep out those “Mexican rapists and murderers”? A man who defames a whole group of human beings based on their religion? A civilian who never served in the military and yet denigrates Senator McCain for having survived a brutal internment as a Vietnam POW? A 69-year-old braggart, narcissist, creep who has said he would date his own “hot” daughter if he were not related to her? And finally, a lascivious predator who, at the age of 59, was recorded boasting about hitting on a married woman and forcing himself on other women, about impulsively kissing them and grabbing them by the pussy?

What kind of Bizarro world have we entered?


I realize that conservatives like my sister vote Republican because they fear a liberal shift in the makeup of the Supreme Court. That they deplore abortion and gay marriage and fear that our country is going the way of Sodom and Gomorrah. That they equate patriotism with our military might, respect for law and order, and the national myths perpetrated through John Wayne movies. (Don’t you just love the scene in The Quiet Man, when John Wayne drags Maureen O’Hara, tripping and falling, from the train station down to the village?) Conservatives are afraid, very afraid. They sense the coming loss of demographic power based on membership in their shared white, European, Christian heritage, part of which is the comforting image of the strong, protective male leader. And the only way to make sense of the ever more rapidly changing landscape is to see others’ rights and freedoms as a direct violation of their own, especially in the religious arena.

I don’t dismiss their concerns about fiscal responsibility, conflict of interest regarding the Clinton Foundation and the State Department, jobs, and what they see as an erosion of their way of life. I respect their convictions if not their beliefs. But I do not understand how they can subvert those convictions in this election year by supporting an absolutely reprehensible man transparently gaming the political system for his own ego and gain. The only sense I can make of it is that, “something [else] is going on here.”


And that something else is good old Christian Patriarchy. My sister and I were raised in a Roman Catholic family with a strong male presence. My mother was not submissive, and I think she chafed under the assumptions of the day, that the man wore the pants. Still, I am pretty sure she laughed when Jackie Gleason threatened to knock his wife’s head off. My father was old-school working class dominant. After him came two older brothers, then an older sister, and finally my sister-the-sister and me. We youngest siblings were both primed for patriarchy (as was our older sister, now a retired CEO and happily married lesbian). But somehow the changes of the 60s and 70s swept the older sister and me left of center, while my twin entrenched herself on the right and, under the influence of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and that ilk, drifter further and further in that direction.

My sister lives in a system where men are fathers and women are sisters. A system founded on a core virtue of obedience to male authority. A system that recognizes only two sacramental roles for women: the Convent or marriage. Either way the woman is subservient to the man. The man knows best. I am exceedingly close to my twin, but I know that in questions of judgment she will always defer not to my incredibly smart, compassionate, and wise sister (and God knows not to me, an early defector from the Church) but to my brothers. Just as my father could not be faulted, my brothers are the embodiment of good and right for her. That they are Christians enhances their claim to wisdom, but I have to conclude that their gender does as well. They are voting for Trump, one—the businessman and family patriarch—just to shake things up in Washington; the other—ex cop and Fox News devotee, because he has drunk the Kool-Aid of vitriol against “Crooked Hillary” and would, at any rate, never depart from the GOP ticket.

Sure, I have questions about Hillary. But her history, policies, and keen intelligence far outweigh my concerns about her relationship with Wall Street or deleted emails or for God’s sake her husband’s infidelities. And the sheer revulsion her opponent’s sexism, racism, xenophobia, arrogance, mendacity, and general thuggery generate in me makes me all the more ready to combat the misogyny directed at her by males and females alike.


Though Madeleine Albright suffered a backlash from younger women for her Second Wave feminist inspired comments in support of Hillary’s candidacy, I do think “there is a special place in hell for women” who follow the male misogynist’s dirty political playbook this election season. And after the spectacle last Sunday of the apoplectic, predatory Trump snorting and hovering and glowering around his opponent, I do ask women who gleefully and unconscionably cheer his threats to jail Hillary this one question: “Have you no shame?”





14 thoughts on “Female Misogyny: Trump’s Women Voters

  1. Bravo! Female misogyny; that’s it. And it also plays into our rape culture where other women blame survivors and exonerate rapists and abusers. They are also often the ones perpetuating such psychological manipulations as gaslighting. I occasionally hear from my husband’s family who lives in the same town as my abusers and their supporters that others are told that I’m crazy and suffer from “delusions.” My mother, grandmother and aunts are most vocal and vile about what they tell others about me. I had never thought to put the term female misogyny to the phenomenon, but that’s exactly what it is. All throughout the election I was bothered by the DJT supporters’ and their blind support, hypocrisy and hatred of “Killary” but it wasn’t until after the grab-them audio clip came out that their protection of him and skewed blame of Hillary actually triggered my PTSD. I freaked out. I didn’t know why and usually, I can feel it coming on and can logically work my way through it. Once I realized it wasn’t DJT that was the issue, I looked at all the comments on my own FB ripping up a declaration I made against rape and rape culture that I realized the most vicious attacks were from women. I’ve been cussed out by a niece, barfed on by an emoticon from a 70 aunt of a fellow writer, told I’m crazy by friends of cousins, and informed ad nauseam how Hillary is the embodiment of all evil in the world, including those so powerful as to Globalize this evil, but only through Hillary. That if we defeat Hillary, we defeat this global evil, which is nothing more than a myth of women in power as something to fear. The onslaught of pro-Trump messages that grind women beneath his heel are being shared by women! I had one woman, who owns her own business tailored to the wellness and empowerment of females, implore other women not to vote for Hillary because of spiritual reasons: https://goo.gl/Z19Wnm. As a woman of faith, I was greatly relieved to see spiritual leaders like Beth Moore speak out against DJT and his rhetoric and to read a more balanced editorial calling out evangelicals to Speak Truth to Trump: https://goo.gl/it2AP1. As you know, I had been considering Gary Johnson and I came to realize it was because he felt safe to me. I still have issues with Hillary that are legitimate, such as ones you’ve expressed, but I also see in her a will to overcome mistakes and a lifetime commitment to women and children. Politics will always be politics, but this election has brought to light why we have deep concerns in our nation like misogyny and rape culture. Disturbingly, women are as much a part of that dynamic as men. It was hard breaking the cycle of abuse in my family, but it allowed me to raise well-adjusted daughters and a son who all respect other themselves and people, regardless of gender or gender identity. It takes time, but perhaps DJT did us a favor in identifying social ailments we need to address.

    1. I hear you about the PTSD! Like almost every woman I know, I have experienced sexual assault, though it took me years to call it that, and even now I must resist taking the blame for it, so ingrained is the “implicit bias” against our own sex. I find I am anxious and afraid over not only Trump but what he has let loose in this county. All the vile bigots and sexists and zenophobes crawling out from under their rocks. I can understand them, though. It’s the women. Some journalist have written about “Stockholm Syndrome.” Supporters, as you have pointed out, cite “spiritual” reasons (a fuzzy wuzzy term I disdain–call it religion, call it God, or call it cosmic connection). Most galling are the (always) physically attractive women making excuses for him. I admire you for posting your views on Facebook, given the abuse you have suffered.I applaud you for combating rape culture. I think women’s historic moment has come, as I have said elsewhere. Thanks so much for this well-thought-out post.

  2. Powerful, passionate post. Isn’t it amazing that such differences of opinion can exist in one family. My family is the same. Divergent. Patriarchal. The sun shone out of the sons. We daughters were nothing. We need people to wake up to and hear your words.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting Norah. Sadly the people I want to at least consider my words hold on to their preconceived beliefs, along with an unwillingness to engage in rational dialogue. I also think many women need to hone their skills at engaging in conversations with men in environments that recall former positions of male dominance/patriarchy: I know that when I try to engage my brothers, for example, especially at family gatherings, I feel the suffocating pressure of the old family dynamic in which I was both female and the youngest. It’s quite clear to me that my opinion, no matter how well informed, will be brushed off. I don’t mean to sound like a victim! But your observations set me off again. Will think more on this. So glad to have some conversation about it.

  3. Once again my sister Jeanne has stopped me in my tracks with her excellent blogging. The day she wrote this, I had been on the phone talking with a woman that has been among my closest friends and confidants since we were fourteen years old. And yep – she’s in the Trump camp. As we talked around the edges of our positions, I had to interject that no, I did not find both candidates equally reprehensible; I liked and supported Hillary Clinton with no qualifications. She was as stunned by my position as I was by hers.

    The fact is that many smart, kind, compassionate women are in deep with Trump. I think Jeanne is right – for many it is a misogyny that hides in plain sight; they are unaware of it and would be shocked if someone were to challenge them with it – as Jeanne has done so cogently. I also think that there are others in the “hold my nose as I vote for him” category. They may not like Trump, they might deplore him, but they distrust Hillary even more. Is that born out of the misogyny that Jeanne described? Maybe so, but I am struggling to apply that label across the board even as I call it out.
    Perhaps I am just not as clear sighted as Jeanne?

    I find myself wondering now if misogyny and patriarchy are separable; can one exist without the other? Definitely they are bedfellows, but can each sleep alone? Might patriarchy alone coop intelligent, savvy and stable people, women especially, into being swayed by the promises of a bellicose bully? The women I am thinking of are strong; they hold positions of power that they worked hard for and have succeeded in that “man’s world” of business. Having pushed their way through the glass ceilings of their various communities, they don’t appear to distrust themselves or their female colleagues. Regarding Trump, I don’t think they support his policies, for no one (especially the candidate himself) can really define them with the kind of detail that would allow for an intelligent, balanced analysis. So…what is it?

    I have one more theory. This election cycle has disclosed the soft underbelly of a very ugly worm- American politics. Over two-plus centuries we have built a labyrinth that leads to our seats of power. It is full of twists and turns and dead ends; it is navigated with promises and deals that open secret passages and back door alleyways. Our politicians learn early on to play the game required to find their ways safely around and through the labyrinth. This time ’round, through Wikileaks, old videos, out-of-context sound bites, we’ve seen those things we don’t want to know about. It eats away at our 6th grade civics understanding of America. It makes us feel slimy and unclean.

    Many of my friends and family, including those brothers and our sister that Jeanne mentioned, have told me that one of the reasons they are voting for Trump is because he will shake things up. They see Hillary as establishment, and in their mind the establishment is responsible for everything wrong with America. I see it quite differently: I think she’s a savvy, experienced leader that plays by the rules she was given–the rules set in place here and across the globe by those who have come before, especially the boys that have come before. That a woman has the audacity to play this game at all is an affront (think women in the military, women as pastors, women in the board rooms…), but to think that she can actually win?

    Ah…I think I’ve come full circle. I think I just described misogyny.

    1. Thanks so much for posting your thoughts here Peggy. I have been rethinking my position, and my use of the word “misogyny” as practiced by women. I am sure the women we know who are voting for Trump would vociferously deny that they have a deep-seated mistrust of women. Those like your friend M. who are strong, intelligent, worldly women, certainly do not fit the mold. I think perhaps it is implicit bias I am getting at. Just as none of can escape racial implicit bias, as evidenced by the various testing methods developed over the last 20 years, neither can we escape gender bias. I recognize it in my younger self and am chagrined to remember how infrequently I questioned the default male superiority in workplace matters or politics or other public domains.
      As for the ugly underbelly of politics, well, I am strangely comforted in knowing that it has always been with us, that our founding fathers predicted it right at the start. Just finished Gore Vidal’s Inventing a Nation. Here are a few observations from our venerable forefathers: In his diary, George Washington complained: “Chimney corner patriots abound: venality, corruptions, prostitution of office for selfish ends, abuse of trust, perversion of funds from a national to a private use, and speculations on the necessities of the times pervade all interests.” And at the end of his life Ben Franklin very accurately predicted our vulnerability to a Trump: “I agree to this Constitution with all of its faults, if they are such: because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no Form of Government but what may be a Blessing to the people if well-administred; and I believe farther that this is likely to be well-administred for a Course of Years and can only end in Despotism as other Forms have done before it, when the People shall become so corrupted as to need Despotic Government, being incapable of any other.” Of course he could not envision Wikileaks and YouTube and hacked emails, though I expect the underlying power of these ways of communicating were as much in force then as now with the tools they had at hand. And I don’t decry losing my 6th grade understanding of civics though I, too, feel a need to wash myself after too much consumption of the news. Our task now is clearly to prove Ben Franklin wrong if we can.And to combat as hard as we can the stupid idea that we can put a dangerous scoundrel in the highest office of the land just to shake things up! Let’s continue the conversation!

  4. Jeanne, as I read your post I thought of Rachel Maddow, and I could imagine a video of you delivering these words to thousands of people! I have to admit that I was confused at first by the title, but quickly realized it is exactly right. Your fierce, eloquent words explain what so many of us have been pondering-how could women subvert other women so easily? Clearly, your family situation gives you visceral reasons why you can see this, and that experience gives power to your words. I hope this blog gets some travel (or do we say eyeballs these days?) and that it helps to continue this important discussion.

    1. Thanks for your comment Barbara and sorry I did not get back to it until today. I have reflected on the issue since posting this, but can still see few other explanations for what I see as such contradictory behavior on the part of some smart women I know. I have a couple of college-educated nieces who are voting for the despicable Trump, both Christians of a near-fundamentalist bent and both nearing 40. Of course there is the tax issue, and one of them, married to a finance guy, would probably ante up more tax dollars under Clinton. But how they can stomach him is beyond me. Not sure this post will get much traffic, even though I still have not seen anyone suggest such an explanation as the influence of a deep-seated patriarchal reaction to events. The course of events continues to appall me. I recommend the latest New York Review of Books (November 10, 2016) for trenchant perspectives on the “slow-motion reality freak show” that this election is (thank you Mark Danner). No doubt I will be calling you again soon for consolation.

  5. Ha, I missed this earlier and must say YES YES YES. I’d definitely like to comment further but having read your latest post on not procrastinating, I’m reminding myself that the morning is almost over without me having added a single word to my WIP. Just to say though that in the UK I think there is more acknowledgement of women also buying into misogyny https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/commentisfree/2016/nov/16/why-did-women-vote-for-trump-because-misogyny-is-not-a-male-only-attribute

    1. Anne, thanks for the article. Will read it a bit later today. On the run right now. But have to say that when I lived in the UK from 1992-1995, I was put off by the blatant sexism. Maybe it was the people I met; my ex-husband was a currency broker and the patronizing views of some of his “mates” were hard to swallow. Nasty environment for sure…very male dominated and huge sense of entitlement based solely on earning power. As a mum with two young children, I felt pretty marginalized too. Wonderful support from the NHS and the mums groups I participated in, but out on the street I sometimes felt either invisible or like I was simply getting in people’s way. More to say on it but for now, thanks for responding. I am comforted knowing so many good people in the UK empathize with those of us here trying to stay hopeful in face of our incoming ….ugh!…president. We have to fight the good fight!

  6. That’s an interesting perspective, Jeanne. There’s certainly misogyny in the UK and I imagine it would be particularly strong within that very macho stockbroking culture. Much of that precipitated of course by a female prime minister. I wish I could have shown you a different side back in the 90s!
    We certainly sympathise over here about your future president – as well as worrying for ourselves. We of course scored a similar own goal by voting to leave the European union.

    1. I expect things may have changed since my time there, Anne. And of course my perspective was somewhat limited by the circumstances under which I moved to London. I did meet some fabulous people on my own. I lived in Highgate, which seemed pretty progressive. But yes, it would have been great to meet you back then! And yes, I feel a close kinship with Britain beyond the usual Anglo-American connection. I hope both our countries can follow Austria’s lead and turn back this terrible “red” tide.

  7. I couldn’t have written this better myself Jeanne. I’m so with you on everything. People were so busy wanting to change the government so in order to not vote democratic, they were willing to accept Satan and made a bad deal with the devil. I know many are now frightened. And many wore blinders thinking that narcissistic, egotistical maniac would keep his promises, promises he doesn’t even have the last say in. Instead he’s arming his cabinet with more like him, throw in a few white supremists and trying to turn back the clock on progression in the last 100 years – a great recipe for disaster. 🙁 I live in Canada and I’m frightened.

    1. Ahhh Canadian! Of course you’ve seen the thread of news stories about Americans planning to move north to our saner Anglophone (and Francophone) cousin. Well that is not going to happen, but Canada remains a beacon to many of us in the time of Trump. I come of French Canadian stock myself, 2 generations back, so feel a special kinship. For now, the liberals are mobilizing here. It’s the 1960s all over again, it seems.
      As for the topic, well I have vowed to keep to writing themes on this blog, but given all that’s happening we’ll see if I can stick to it!

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