Misogyny in Donald Trump’s political language contributes to rape culture, has impact

By now most people have heard the comments Donald Trump made in a 2005 hot microphone video on the set of “Access Hollywood” obtained by The Washington Post.

In it, he makes many remarks that feminist outlets along with the mainstream media have called out as being indicative of sexual assault:

“I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her,” Trump says. “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — 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,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”

“Grab them by the p—y,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”

The Language

“Sexist remarks aren’t anything new from ordinary speakers,” said Dr. Diana Boxer, a distinguished professor of linguistics at the University of Florida. “But this is not an ordinary speaker. This is somebody who is possibly going to be the leader of the free world. [We must] hold that person up to the standards of any person. Even if it’s all talk and no action, which obviously women are coming out now saying that it is action, it is still not right for a person in a powerful position to be able to objectify any part of the human race that way.”

I asked Dr. Boxer about Trump’s tendency to rate women on their looks with numbers. While she personally said she didn’t know of any research in her specialization that has analyzed that, she said this is one way people use language to “other” certain populations.

“One of the ways you would [other someone] would be saying ‘She’s an eight out of a 10,'” Boxer said.

Dr. Boxer said the misogynistic language used by men in powerful leadership roles has always dissuaded women from pursuing leadership roles. Hillary Clinton is told “‘your voice is so shrill.’ They don’t say that about men,” Boxer said.

Trump’s misogynistic language, spanning decades, continues to reinforce the belief that degrading language is normal.


The Impact

Dr. Boxer applies the term androcentrism, meaning anything men do is the norm whereas what women do is a deviation from that norm, when speaking on the impact of this election. “We have to break out of that gendered socialization pattern that has been inculcated in us.”

Dr. Boxer directed me to an opinion piece recently published in the Gainesville Sun written by Trysh Travis, a UF professor in the Center for Gender, Sexualities, and Women’s Studies Research. In it, Dr. Travis touches on how Trump’s language contributes to the feminist concept of rape culture:

“The frank and vulgar way he talks about ‘mov[ing] on’ and ‘grabbing’ women can be read as another great example of his refusal to kowtow to ‘political correctness’,” Travis writes. “[Rape culture] is created by men who aren’t necessarily ‘rapists’ but who, in their everyday conversations about women, construct them as objects to be manipulated and ‘moved on.’”

It is through this language of Trump’s that he shows how his mindset is one that was cultivated by and in turn breeds rape culture.

The impact of this language is being noticed. According to a Wall Street Journal/NBC Survey, Hillary Clinton’s lead among women jumped from 12 points in September 21 this October. However, there are still women who are vocal about their support of Trump, one such woman being the wife of our very own congressman here in Gainesville, Rep. Ted Yoho. Carolyn Yoho’s reaction to the remarks was “a few moments of righteous indignation.”

“Then I got some perspective.”

She said she has heard professional men speaking “very inappropriately and it doesn’t make them incompetent.”

Thus, Carolyn Yoho and like-minded conservative women view remarks like Trump’s as having no weight on their ability to be successful in their respective fields.

I asked Dr. Boxer why she believes such women will still vote for Trump.

“Do you want me to give you a cynical answer?” she asks. “Because we’ve been brainwashed by the male hierarchy: the hegemonic male outlet of our society…. It’s the androcentric rule [that] women have been socialized from a very early age [to believe].”


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