Thanks a lot, Donald, but I don't want to be 'cherished'
Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Many will be aware of US Republican hopeful Donald Trump’s faux pas, seemingly alluding to Fox News host Megyn Kelly’s menstrual cycle (“blood coming out of her, wherever”) being responsible for her forceful line of questioning. Now Trump is denying everything (“You almost have to be sick to put that together”), pointing out that he’s hired “killer” female executives (In fairness, he had one helping him on The US Apprentice). Shame, then, that Trump spoiled it by saying : “I cherish women. I want to help them.” Excuse me while I drop into a curtsey. Thank you, kind sir!

Getting away from Trump in particular, this “cherishing” schmaltz generally rings cacophonous alarm bells, saying as much about a man as if he’d appeared in the room wearing full Amish fancy dress. “Cherish” suggests a particular brand of skewed male mindset that many women would be familiar with. It denotes a fullblown “knight in shining armour” fantasy – but this time it’s certain men (strange and worrying men) doing all the fantasising … about themselves.

Women tend to feature only as delicate ultra-feminine flowers who must be looked after, helped, protected, rescued. And be fragrant, sexually attractive, possessed of fluffy hair, and above all silent (save for a bit of doe-eyed gasping) while it’s happening. It’s the stuff of fairy tales, Hollywood films, and now, it seems, a Republican leadership campaign. (Gruff voiceover):“I’m here, little ladies, there’s no need to be frightened any more”.

When you object to being “cherished” in this fashion, you often become a central casting ballbreaker who sulks when someone opens a door for you. Who are these women? Do they actually exist? Has anyone ever witnessed this kind of “feminist footstamping” firsthand? If someone opens a door for me, guess what I say? “Ta.” I then walk through it, and all is well.

Please be advised that women don’t object to the “cherish” mindset because it infuriates and sickens them when men have good manners. Rather, it’s because we know about cherish’s “running mates”: male entitlement, control, disappointment, judgment, anger, accusation, resentment and eventual punishment-cum-banishment. The warped trajectory of idealisation.

The point being that if the cherished woman steps out of line, doesn’t kowtow enough, isn’t perma-sweet or sufficiently impressed, doesn’t bat her eyelashes so consistently and violently that she starts bleeding from the sockets, then it’s odds-on that sooner or later she will be pronounced “unfeminine” or a “man-hater”. Unfeminine man-hating women do not get cherished. “Cherishees” must painstakingly follow the woman-script the “cherishers” have so nobly written for them, or they will find themselves booted straight out of paradise. They may even be publicly accused of menstruating in a bad-tempered hormonal way while conducting their journalistic duty on a US news show..

Ultimately, being cherished is just another version of the age-old routine of putting a woman on a pedestal so that you can push her off it again. It’s the most transient, self-serving bogus form of soft-focus female appreciation there is. “I will revere you until such time as you cease to be a passive, inanimate and obliging representative of your sex – like a hot Ma Walton with better underwear.”

Bearing this in mind, what did Donald Trump (woman-rescuing knight; self-styled gallant Sir Trump-a-lot) think he was doing when he started spouting mawkish drivel at women about “cherishing” them? At best, Trump sounded as though he and his advisers had only just realized that a sentient voting female electorate existed, and their response was for him to grab some cheap flowers from a petrol station, spritz his mouth with breath freshener, and launch into a guilty charm offensive. What someone should have told Trump is that no modern female in their right mind would want to “cherished” – not when they could be respected in the regular human way.

-Barbara Ellen, The Observer