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Controlling women’s bodies: Trump and Pence.

It neither shocked nor surprised me to yesterday hear a recording of US presidential candidate Donald Trump, made some ten years ago, boasting that his wealth and fame entitle him to grab women by the genitals, and kiss them without consent, because he finds female beauty irresistible:

I’ve gotta 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.

Men using their power to gain sexual access to women is nothing new. Bill Clinton has been accused of rape, sexual harassment, exposing himself to a woman who didn’t want to see the presidential penis, and of numerous affairs, the most famous of which involved White House intern Monica Lewinsky, and the most lengthy of which was, it’s said, conducted over some twenty-two years.

These matters are relevant a) because Trump repeatedly points to Clinton as being just as bad: Well, look over there, I’m not the only one who does it and b) because Trump has threatened several times to raise Clinton’s sexual history during debates with Democrat opponent Hillary Clinton, on the somewhat bizarre grounds that any woman married to an unfaithful man isn’t fit to be president of the United States.

HRC, goes Trump’s argument, has enabled her husband to sexually exploit women, therefore is as responsible for harm as is Clinton. This harmful enabling disqualifies HRC from challenging Trump on his attitudes to women because hers aren’t much better, particularly, Trump argues, as Secretary Clinton has allegedly pursued and intimidated some of the women with whom her husband enjoyed intimacy in an effort to ensure their silence.

There is some substance to the theory that tolerating deceptive behaviour is enabling that deceptive behaviour: the unfaithful spouse learns faithfulness is not a requirement for the relationship to continue, and there will be no catastrophic repercussions. I can only guess at HRC’s motives for choosing to remain in a marriage with Clinton, but I’m pretty certain that had they divorced she wouldn’t be running for President today, and she likely wouldn’t have been Secretary of State in the Obama administration either.

HRC is a pragmatist. Anyone running for presidential or other high office, male or female, must have that goal as their primary ambition and be willing to tailor his or her life to the demands of the race. Divorce and the failure it signifies in a country where religious beliefs about marriage and family hold great political sway, together with financial settlements that may reveal far too much about one’s circumstances are situations to be avoided, particularly if you are a politically ambitious woman.

It may well be that HRC long ago came to an understanding with herself that the anguish of betrayal was the price she’d have to pay for achieving her goals. She isn’t the first woman to come to this conclusion, and she won’t be the last.

There are women who find sharing life with a treacherous partner is more than they can bear and that they deserve better, as they do. The cycle of betrayal is a cycle of abuse. Married life with a man such as Clinton would be intolerable for me, but I’m not interested in political office and my priorities are living a life free from abuse and humiliation with a partner I can trust. HRC doesn’t appear to have been in a position (within the confines of the system she inhabits) to both achieve her political ambitions and live free from emotional and mental spousal abuse. She’s had to make choices.

HRC’s pragmatism does not in any way indicate an unsuitability for high office, quite the opposite I would have thought.

Trump’s attitude to women is vile, and it’s on the higher end of a vile continuum. He’s been caught on tape voicing his sordid desires and intentions: we know we’re dealing with a poster boy for sexism and exploitation. But think on this. Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate, believes abortion to be “monstrous” and vows to do everything possible to prevent women accessing the procedure, including attempting to overturn Roe v Wade. Should Trump win, Pence is next in line for the presidency in the event of some kind of Trump collapse.

Everywhere we turn, we find a man attempting to control women’s bodies, either through sexual exploitation and abuse, and/or control of our reproductive processes. Trump, Clinton, Pence are high-profile performers of a dominant culture that is still, despite its sophistication and its claims to western superiority, profoundly contemptuous of women, and committed to denying our autonomy and our humanity.

I’m no fan of Hillary Rodham Clinton. There are, in my opinion, many concerns about her becoming the next president of the US. However, Bill Clinton’s sexual predation and the manner in which she’s chosen to deal with it are not among them. But hey, she’s a woman. On that fact alone she’s blameworthy, and Trump knows it.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.



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  1. Carol Taylor

    Jennifer, very well said. On “HRC, goes Trump’s argument, has enabled her husband to sexually exploit women..”. Of course it’s the woman’s fault – it’s the woman’s fault when she gets raped, it’s the woman’s fault if he is abusive, it’s the woman’s fault if he’s a child molester, it’s the woman’s fault when celibate priests stray, and so naturally Hillary’s philandering husband is all-her-fault. Doubtless, knowing Trump’s form, such statements will be accompanied by wink-wink, nudge-nudge about Hillary’s capability in bed, hence the reason Hillary is the ‘enabler’.

    I would not like to make judgements on Hillary and why she stuck with Bill through all the very public humiliation, but then I consider that their marriage is their own business.

  2. Florence nee Fedup

    Thump’s wife now defending him in same manner as Hillary did.

  3. babyjewels10

    “Everywhere we turn, we find a man attempting to control women’s bodies, either through sexual exploitation and abuse, and/or control of our reproductive processes.” Every day I read a quote from a white man denigrating women, using words to control women and women being forced to accept lower salaries for the same position as a man or accepting a lesser role. I’m afraid, once escaping the box, there’s no going back and these men are shouting into the wind because women are moving onward and upward, no matter how afraid these men are.

  4. Alasdair McAndrew

    Most Republicans have a shameful history of treatment of women. John Kasich, Ohio Governor and one time Presidential hopeful, who has voiced his displeasure of Trump only now, is vile, and has placed in law some of the most regressive legislation imaginable in what one used to imagine was a first world country. Amanda Marcotte, writing in Salon, makes this very clear: HRC may indeed have faults (the worst of which seems to be that she’s a woman), but quite frankly the world would be better off with her, or indeed a propped up mummified Ronald Reagan as president, instead of Trump.

  5. wam

    By ignoring the basic premise of god, jennifer, you have no real argument. God gave women the physiological and psychological flaws which prevent equality.
    Therefore, how can the men and women of god believe in equality without a liberal (haha) dose of the white, green and purple?????
    The point is clear only exceptional women consider themselves and are considered by men for support tasks. My memory is not flash but there have been many parliaments with great female leaders (carmen, joan and 2 QLD, anna and annastacia)but only sri lanks and now england has had more than one women prime minister. Both became PM because the boy’s declined the ‘poisoned’ chalice.
    Are the septics ready for a woman???
    Sadly, I think not!!!!! Do they deserve donny??? My prejudice screams YES! YES! YES!

  6. Mark Needham

    Way……..Way of Topic, but something I just could not leave alone.
    Sort of like a sexy sheila, just grab ’em on the bum……and God’ll do the rest.

    Anyhow, from old and self explanatory….

    corvus boreus
    Matters Not October 6, 2015 at 10:56 pm
    Yeah, been a while. Just clicked on an old link, and found T.H.I.S.
    At this time, some, bloody hell, nearly 12 months later, I am concerned that I held my breath and bit me tongue.
    The acknowledgement of the fact of your existence, was in retrospect, as that to a Dog Turd, on the foot path.
    To have stood in it would be to the benefit of no one. To not admit its existence, would be the same folly, that oft drifts with the vapours of a smelly “Dog Turd” that are clogging up this ”blog”

    It really is amazing, that after all this time, I have finally “Thunk up this Reply”
    Such a shame that you will not see it, or reflect on your complicity, in the distribution and laying of said ‘Dog Turd’
    Inwardly chuckly,
    Mark Needham
    No dogs were injured in this diatribe.

  7. economicreform

    We can be at least grateful that this clown now revealed his true colors for all to see, and therefore we can be certain that he will NOT be elected to the highest office.

  8. Terry2

    The democratic system can usually weed out the crooks and perverts as the theory of government of the people, by the people, for the people sorts the wheat from the chaff so that only people of ability and quality achieve high office.

    Then you have the likes of Trump and, in the Australian experience, Abbott, people totally unsuitable for high office with no aptitude or ability.

    In both cases it is the Party system that has corrupted and skewed the democratic process and allowed people with a limited skill-set and absolutely no vision to effectively game the system : in the case of Abbott, by one vote in a leadership challenge in the Liberal party room.

    The Republican Party in America are currently in disarray and are finally acknowledging that their processes and primaries have delivered a dud : I make no judgement on our current leadership [at this stage].

    It’s time that ‘we the people’ take back our democracy from the parties to which only a few of us belong.

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