Monday, April 11, 2016

Women: suck it up

So I was lying in bed the other day really not wanting to get up, and Morning Edition was playing on my husband's LEGO clock radio, and Steve Innskeep and Mara Liasson were talking about the Republican primaries. As if there's anything else to talk about, like, say, that Thurgood Marshall's elementary school caught on fire this week and Dilma Rousseff might get impeached.

Here's an excerpt:

INSKEEP: Has Trump's trouble in the last week or two caused any change in the sentiments in upstate New York?
BRIAN MANN (North Country Public Radio): I kind of expected to hear that, maybe hear some of his supporters here in New York kind of edging toward the door. But as I talked to my neighbors and people around upstate, I just didn't hear that. I reached out last night via Skype to Sue MacNeil. She works at a local hospital, and she's chair of the Republican Party in Fulton County, N.Y., a few hours west of here. And she told me, you know, that people who are put off by Donald Trump's coarse talk, especially about women - she says they're just wimps.
SUE MACNEIL: If you can't stand the heat, then gosh darn it, get out of the gosh-darned kitchen. I grew up with two older brothers. And I learned a lot from the family that I grew up with. And if I couldn't take it, then that was my problem. And talk about political correctness. Women, suck it up.

Needless to say, THAT got me right out of bed. I mean, I was either going to get out of bed and put some pants on or roll over and pull the covers up and hope for death. And Sue MacNeil has been ringing in my ears ever since.

I want to see Kate McKinnon play Sue MacNeil on Saturday Night Live. Of course, I want to see Kate McKinnon play EVERYBODY on Saturday Night Live. Any woman who can do Angela Merkel AND Justin Beiber, well. She's a genius. She's certainly my new favorite Ghostbuster.

So I'd see Sue McNeil coming back on NPR and Steve Inskeep querying her on her support of Trump and her willingness to be shat upon by 50% of the human race.

INSKEEP: Thank you for coming on our program, Sue.
MACNEIL: Thank you for having me.

INSKEEP: Last week on our show you advised women who were "put off by Donald Trump's coarse talk, especially about women," to, "suck it up." Do you stand by that statement?
MACNEIL: I do. I was raised with two older brothers and you better have a thick skin if you're going to roll with those big dogs. Women who insist on being treated like delicate flowers aren't doing themselves any favors.

INSKEEP: I think the women who have criticized Mr. Trump's statements would say that they aren't asking for special treatment, but are asking to be treated with the same respect as men.
MACNEIL: Well, if they want to be treated the same as men, I suggest they grow a pair!

INSKEEP: Um, yeah but... given the physical impossibility of a woman growing a pair of testicles, you are saying that women just can't be treated the same as men?
MACNEIL: Look, Steve. Men and woman are just different. They're going to be treated differently, and if you can't face that fact, well get your head out of your magic princess mirror and look around you.

INSKEEP: My... Well. But would you agree that the ways that women are different from men cause them to be treated with less respect? And that statements by Donald Trump exemplify that?
MACNEIL: Less respect? Respect is a funny word. I don't even know what that word means. And I don't know... I mean I've never heard Mr. Trump talk about women with anything less than total respect.

INSKEEP: Let me get your reaction to a few of his statements. In one of his books, Mr. Trump writes, “It’s certainly not groundbreaking news that the early victories by the women on ‘The Apprentice’ were, to a very large extent, dependent on their sex appeal.”
MACNEIL: Well, sure! I don't see what's objectionable about having a little secret weapon down your shirt! If you look at it that way, we women have an unfair advantage!

INSKEEP: Ok. How about this one: “Women have one of the great acts of all time. The smart ones act very feminine and needy, but inside they are real killers. The person who came up with the expression ‘the weaker sex’ was either very naive or had to be kidding. I have seen women manipulate men with just a twitch of their eye — or perhaps another body part.”
MACNEIL: There you go!

INSKEEP: Now, you're chair of the Republican Party in your county. It doesn't bother you at all, the implication that you are only in that position thanks to some kind of twitching?MACNEIL: Are you implying that I slept my way into my job?
INSKEEP: No, but don't you think Mr. Trump is?

Let me be clear - I made all this up. Because I've been haunted by this person. Even the language that she uses: the combination of squeaky-clean expletive (gosh-darn it!) and sexual imagery (suck it up!) seems to exemplify some kind of perfect Stepford combo of mom and hooker. And then I looked her up online, and she seems like a terrific woman. She's director of volunteer services at a hospital, a hospice board member, an entertainer and a speaker, She runs a summer camp for kids where she teaches kids about "healthy eating, going fishing, arts and crafts," for Pete's sake.

So I keep trying to guess how she reacts whenever her candidate professes his admiration for his daughter's body, or indicates that he's willing to pander to the fucking brow-ridge segment of the voting population that thinks women are whores and should be punished for getting pregnant.

And I keep coming back around to the term "slave mentality." It's a bad term, it's been co-opted by conservatives who use it to be racist in a shitty backdoor way, but I'm not coming up with anything else. The term used to be used to connote an individual's acceptance of poor treatment as natural and deserved, and what is more - that individual's efforts to proselytize this view.

I kept looking for language from the domestic violence prevention community about the mindset of denial and rationalization that can develop in an abused person, but I didn't find an actual term for this particular flavor of codependence. The language that most closely mirrors the "you don't deserve equal treatment and face it, you don't even want it" attitude I heard on the radio the other morning can be found in the writings of women in the submissive wife movement. Which is the absolute worst. I can't even - the flames...

All the bits about crying instead of expressing anger, or not opening your mouth to disagree with him, and

"Have you really enjoyed independence and gender neutrality that much?"
Recent state legislation legalizing discrimination against gay and transgendered people makes it obvious how un-united the United States has become, but whenever I hear of women who not only accept second class status, but rush toward it and crawl inside it like creeping into a dumpster of warm, rotting garbage, I experience fear. I become really afraid. It's one thing to imagine an army of butthurt straight white men getting fierce about the perceived erosion of their King of the World status - that almost makes sense - but the idea of a legion of their wives fighting for their right to be treated like doormats conjures an image of an America so saturated with sexist bullshit that a large number of Americans can't even smell it.