The president of the United States sets the moral tone for the nation. It seems reasonable to conclude America’s rape culture is fully installed in Donald Trump’s White House. Trump himself has been accused of sexual misconduct — including sexual assault — by at least 19 different women. He has proudly admitted to sexually assaulting women, even if he later tried to dismiss that as “locker-room talk.” Trump was also accused by his first wife, Ivana, of committing marital rape. (Although Ivana retracted that specific claim, she did not change her account of the alleged incident.)
It would seem that Donald Trump does not consider sexual assault and other types of sexual misconduct to be disqualifying character traits.
Donald Trump has nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh and a friend have now been accused of sexually assaulting Christine Blasey Ford when all three were in high school. Ford has passed a polygraph, suggesting at the very least that she believes her version of events to be accurate.
Kavanaugh gave a speech in 2015 that has now become notorious, in which he said, “What happens at Georgetown Prep, stays at Georgetown Prep. That’s been a good thing for all of us I think.”
Elite male college-prep schools and private schools such as Georgetown Prep, Kavanaugh’s alma mater, are notorious for their culture of binge drinking, casual violence and sexual assault.
Predictably, Trump has rallied to Kavanaugh’s defense. On Friday he suggested that Ford is not to be trusted and is not telling the truth about being sexually assaulted. On Twitter, the president proclaimed:
I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place. … I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place! … The radical left lawyers want the FBI to get involved NOW. Why didn’t someone call the FBI 36 years ago?
In keeping with his apparent malignant narcissism, Trump found a way to make the story of this alleged sexual assault about himself:
Judge Brett Kavanaugh is a fine man, with an impeccable reputation, who is under assault by radical left wing politicians who don’t want to know the answers, they just want to destroy and delay. Facts don’t matter. I go through this with them every single day in D.C.
Republican elites are also defending Kavanaugh, with Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, going so far as to say that even if the rape allegations were true they might be excusable: “I think it would be hard for senators not to consider who he is today”. Once again, per America’s tradition, culture and habit, elite white men are protected from the consequences of their behavior. Toxic white masculinity is encouraged in America. White men are infantilized, while black and brown men and boys are pathologized.
Despite all of the disproved narratives about the “white working class,” it has been repeatedly and conclusively shown that Donald Trump in fact won the White House because of racism and nativism. But sexism was a key element in Trump’s victory as well. These values, beliefs, and behaviors interact with one another. New research by University of Kansas sociologists David Smith and Eric Hanley demonstrates how a socially combustible mix of racism and sexism, in combination with anger and bullying, put the United States on a path to authoritarianism.
Writing in “The Anger Games: Who Voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 Election, and Why?”, which appeared in a recent issue of the journal Critical Sociology, Smith and Hanley summarize their new research: