Verbal Assaults and F**k-you Pyrotechnics: Crude Anatomy of Donald Trump Campaign
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (R) speaks as Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looks on during the town hall debate at Washington University on October 9, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo: Getty Images)
I am away from my regular base in India, here in the United States watching this agonizing political cycle for about a year (studying and doing other amazing things as well), as it stumbled from anguish to denunciations to mocking to down right vulgarity, all in the course of electing the next President of the United States.
Over the course of the last few months, I often wondered whether Donald Trump’s misogyny would ever come to bite him in the a**. I want to be able to say ass. The word and many others, odious, toxic, crude and profane have to be allowed when it comes to covering this election cycle. They have over the months become the markers of American political discourse, that has frankly been in the dumpster.
The truth is Donald Trump made this campaign a vulgar one. The fact is the campaign has actually been a lot more vulgar than people even realized it. Major news networks, all around the world routinely censor expletives, bleep, blank them. But in the case of Donald Trump, this was so very often. Bleeping words like “shit” and “pussy” and covering his mouth with pixels when he said the word “fuck” has been routine, according to many producers I met over the months. Newspapers asterix-ed the offending words. Trump’s political speeches thus reached viewers sanitized, without the foul they came packed with.
The other truth is Trump has made a successful campaign despite all this crassness. He's mocked a disabled reporter, called a woman “Ms. Piggy”, suggested Fox journalist Megyn Kelly questioned him in a tough manner during a debate because she was menstruating. “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever,” Mr. Trump had said.
He has said worse, and every time he has been rewarded. People have welcomed his bluster. There is a large following of people who cheer his unwillingness to follow political correctness and thus feel they have the permission to do the same.
At the Republican National Convention, in Cleveland earlier this year, I was witness to open misogyny on the streets, in full naked display, encouraged, traded and joked about in just the casual “locker room banter” that Trump spoke about in relation to the Washington Post video.
This was a street just outside the Quickens Loan Arena, the RNC Convention premises where pins and lapels that read "Don't be a pussy” or “Trump that Bitch” or "Hillary sucks but not like Monica" were all in easy sight and up for a sale.
Yes, it could be argued the RNC had no control over merchandise that was being sold off the premises but Trump supporters at many boisterous rallies used much of the same language, often calling the opponent a “bitch” or holding placards “Life’s a bitch. Don’t vote for one”, or wore pins like “KFC Hillary special, 2 Fat Thighs, 2 Small Breasts.” They often received encouragement, never an admonition.
I have heard experts and Trump supporters on television networks over the last 48-hours give explanations like “Trump is flawed, just like his opponent” and that he never ran on the paragon of moral virtue or “that he may just be bragging about his sexually aggressive and predatory behavior and the actions in question [although criminal in nature] never actually took place.” It made me wonder why there was so little moral outrage at the words, just by themselves, plain and simple, even if the actions hadn’t taken place. This is often exactly the sort of talk that an innumerable number of American television hosts and documentary filmmakers attack India over, when it comes to our shameful numbers of sexual violence against women. American campuses, its presidential campaign, even their court proceedings have been rife with a discourse that minimizes the severity of sexual assault and perpetuates a rape culture in the name of “locker room banter”.
Trump has specialized in verbal abuse for months if not years. It is no small thing. Women [and men] in America and the world have heard the contents of that video. They are disturbing and should disturb all, even fathers and mothers of sons, or grandparents or single men and women, or members of the LGBT community, everyone, because as Justin Trudeau said (updating the quote), “Because this is 2016,” America.
Trump's grotesqueries have been front and center with their “tits” and “pussy” all intact. It has suited the road to White House so far, and now it doesn’t. Ironically, a few polls that have been done over the last 48-hours, suggest that the video has done nothing to dissuade Trump’s band of supporters, only the undecided ones may be showing their backs.
What an irony it would be if the United States of America would elect its first woman President on the back of such abominable comments against women and such pussyfooting.
(PS: From an outsider: How about a political detox for the next 30-days. Imagine a conversation where you can’t talk about people’s looks, bodies, how much they eat, ways to grab them or how long they take to go to the loo?)