By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
October 31, 2016
At the last US presidential debate when Donald Trump looked over at Hillary Clinton and said, "Such a nasty woman," he sounded the death knell of his campaign. It was almost like looking at Hillary with disdain and saying in Trini language, "Yuh nastiness."
This insult has had a more devastating effect on Trump's candidacy than anything else he has said or done previously. Not even his infamous boast about grabbing women's genitals has had such a devastating effect on his White House ambitions. "Nasty woman" has become a rallying cry among women and that, as they say in T&T, was the end of Solomon Gundi.
In the United States, women outnumber the males. They also vote in overwhelming numbers. Margaret Thatcher used to say, "If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman." On November 8, women will do a lot to remind Trump about his casual insult against women.
Senator Elizabeth Warren has already taken up the battle cry. Campaigning in New Hampshire on Monday last she came out in full battle gear. She warned Trump: "Nasty women are tough. Nasty women are smart. And nasty women vote. We nasty women are going to march our nasty feet to cast our nasty votes to get you out of our lives forever" (New York Times, October 24).
And what sweet revenge women will have on November 8. When the US founding fathers declared their independence in 1776, neither women nor Africans were included in that historic document. Thomas Jefferson denounced the slave trade as an "execrable commerce" filled with horrors in the original draft of the declaration. However, such language did not get into the final document. In the end, the Declaration proudly proclaimed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal."
Some apologists defend this obvious bit of male chauvinism by saying that in this context "men" was a generic term that was meant to include both men and women. Such a reading seems dubious. Neither women nor Africans mattered very much when this document was written, which is why it is such a joy to see these two coarse reductionisms about blacks and women overthrown in eight short years.
In a way, things will never be the same. When Barack Obama was elected, my grandson emoted gleefully: "Now, I can be president!" Many young women will be letting out similar cries when Ms. Clinton is elected. It will be a significant shift in US history.
We in T&T have been fortunate. We have elected a woman to hold that esteemed position. It is something of which we should be very proud.
This is why Trump's casual nastiness is so difficult to take, why it is so disturbing to women, and why women feel so insulted by such a characterization.
Even Republican women who have always supported Republican nominees in the past are now leaving in droves. Suburban women in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Florida, are especially offended by his casual debasing of their sex. These crucial states play a pivotal role in the election of any president. Mac Stipanovich, a Republican political consultant, noted: "Many of these women want to vote Republican, but Trump has just made it impossible for them. They are weary of it all—the bombast, the threats and the misogyny" (Financial Times, October 24).
Trump came to Trinidad only once. Had he spent some more time here, he would have heard about the prowess of women when it comes to voting and getting out the vote for their candidates. He would have known that in some Trinidad political parties—the PNM, for example—they have a special name (unprintable) for the women who support their parties. They are ferocious when it comes to protecting the name of their party.
Over the years, women have silently objected to men taking them for granted. However, it is quite another thing when you call a woman out of her name. Insulting a woman, denigrating her, and referring to her as "yo' nastiness" is the last thing anyone expected to hear from a presidential candidate.
When I was growing up, my mama would say, "Yo' do, and yo' do; and until yo' overdo." Donald Trump has done, and done, until he has overdone himself. This time around, he has dug his own grave and there is no way he can resurrect himself.
You may insult a woman in many ways—all very unacceptable—but you do not ever refer to her as "Yo' nastiness." Then, like my brother Giles says, "Is all fall down."
Donald Trump has been punch drunk for too long. In a week's time, he will learn an enduring lesson: "Drunk or business, mind yo' sober."
Professor Cudjoe's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be reached @ProfessorCudjoe.
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