By Lisa Senecal
Women are sick of talking about sexism and misogyny. We’re even more sick and tired of experiencing it. So, let me make this direct appeal to Republicans to help me get one big step closer to never writing about these topics again; please stop choosing a sexual predator and blatant misogynist as your Party’s nominee cycle after cycle. No, Trump isn’t the official GOP nominee for 2024 yet, but he’s running away with it so far, and there is no one in sight to stop him - because a sexist, predatory, misogynist is exactly who the GOP base wants back in the White House.
It has been two weeks since Trump was found liable for sexual abuse and defamation. Spare me the “but the jury didn’t believe her when E. Jean Carroll said she was raped.” The jury of six men and three women heard Carroll testify that she was absolutely sure that Trump had forcibly and, without her consent, penetrated her digitally - sorry for the detail, but sexual assault is ugly, and I have no interest in trying to pretty it up. Carroll further testified that she believed he had penetrated her with his penis but that her view was blocked by his body, so she could not say that with certainty.
To be clear, what this means is that for everything E. Jean Carroll told the jury she was certain about, they believed her and deemed Trump liable. There was not one charge where the jury believed Trump over Carroll. Not one. Including the rape accusation. Carroll said she wasn’t certain, so the jury couldn’t be either. The reality is, after Trump’s horrific deposition and refusal to testify in his own defense (while lying that he wasn’t given his day in court), the jury saw Carroll as a truthteller and Donald Trump as the liar, sexual abuser, and misogynist that he is.
Trump’s pattern of abuse was well-established during the trial. In part, because other women testified that Trump had sexually abused them, as well, but the most powerful evidence against Trump came from…wait for it…Trump. Contrary to Trump’s 2016 dismissal of his now infamous Access Hollywood statements, including: “I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. 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. You can do anything…Grab ’em by the p*ssy. You can do anything.” Rather than dismissing these remarks as merely being “locker room talk,” in his deposition, Trump said it was true that “when you’re a star, they let you do it.” When asked if Trump considered himself a star, it was a rare occasion when his massive ego led him to tell the truth; Trump replied yes, he considers himself a star.
If anyone expected Trump to be chastened by the verdict, they’ve had their head in a hole for at least the past seven years, or are Susan Collins. And thanks to the ratings-above-democracy ethos of CNN’s new head, Chris Licht, we had a 70-minute, live, primetime televised opportunity handed to Trump so he could show the world - and especially his supporters - just how unrepentant he was. He attempted to degrade, insult, and intimidate CNN’s Kaitlin Collins on stage and took the opportunity to defame the woman who had just gotten the sexual abuse and defamation jury decisions against him. Lest there be any doubt that sexism and misogyny aren’t just tolerated or even ignored in today’s GOP, we were treated to the in-studio audience of GOP voters cheering, laughing, and applauding.
But that isn’t where this story ends. Trump’s reveling in the laughter and applause as he debased the woman he abused, or those laughing and applauding, or Chris Licht giving Trump that platform knowing exactly how he would behave - these aren’t the important parts of the overarching story.
His base of support isn’t in economically disadvantaged, every day, love thy neighbor Americans. Trump traffics in misogyny, racism, anti-LGBTQ, white Christian nationalism and dominionism, anti-immigrant hate, and manufactured threat to foment fear and distrust and seed chaos. But remember, Trump was political poison for the GOP in 2018, 2020, and 2022. There truly are more of us than them. Trump’s win in 2016 and his popularity with his base in 2023 isn’t because we have failed to make progress; it’s because we have succeeded.
Donald Trump is the embodiment of the backlash to progress. The first Black president. Backlash. The end of “Don’t ask. Don’t tell.” Backlash. Marriage equality. Backlash. Increasing economic independence of women. Backlash. Historic voter participation among young voters. Backlash. There are countless examples of progress and backlash, and that can be discouraging and exhausting if we lose sight of the backlash as a reaction to progress that’s been made. When those periods of intense pressure to reverse progress occur, there is no denying the harm being done in real time. This is when we redouble our efforts and remind ourselves of the origin of the “Make America Great Again” fury: their fight against progress is losing. How can we be sure? Because nobody gets that mad because they’re winning.