Joe Biden is nearly a year into his Presidency, yet Donald Trump is unfortunately still a ubiquitous presence (thanks mainly to cable television and social media) in American lives. In one day we will mark one year since Trump held a rally and incited his supporters to storm the Capitol, hoping to stop certifying Biden’s legitimate election. While white men made up the majority of these storm troopers, many women joined the insurrection and, indeed, two of them died. Disappointingly and mystifyingly, women are still among Trump’s most ardent supporters. I finally resolved to tackle a theme that had haunted me since that fateful election day in November 2016, made even more urgent on the anniversary of January 6.
What Is It About the Women Who Love Donald Trump?
Full disclosure: I have always loved and respected women. Throughout my childhood and adolescence growing up in the Bronx, my mother and maternal grandmother’s women friends treated me like I was a prince. I began having crushes on girls and young student teachers in first grade. With a few male exceptions, women have been the main influences and mentors in my life. While I have a bunch of men buddies and confidants, and have engaged in male bonding sports activities since childhood, I count more women than men as my closest friends. And I’ve always believed that women are more compassionate, empathetic, patient, smarter, and less vain than men. Pound for pound, they’re also stronger.
Which is why ever since the 2016 Presidential campaign began and throughout Donald Trump’s occupation of the Oval Office until today I’ve been profoundly disillusioned, disgusted, and massively depressed about how many women—frankly ANY woman—can support a man who would gladly destroy American Democracy. The statistics and polling data tell this disheartening story.
While in 2016 women overwhelmingly voted for Hillary (54 percent-41 percent), that was in large part thanks to Black and Hispanic women, who went 96% and 75% for Clinton, respectively. But 53 percent of white women supported Trump and he won the vote of white non-college educated women by approximately 30 points, depending on the poll. Lest anyone believe the majority of Trump’s white women support came primarily from his beloved “poorly educated,” he also won 45% of the vote of college educated white women. Of course, women identifying as Republican went for Trump by almost 90%. By November of 2019, and due to a drop in female support of Trump after the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings, a Pew Research Center poll found that just 30 percent of all women approved of Trump’s job performance. As far as I’m concerned that was 30 percent too many.
This doesn’t mean I think women who are anything but moderate-to-liberal Democrats are the embodiment of evil. I strongly believe in the two-party system and that there are a myriad of issues over which Democrats/Liberals and Republican/Conservatives can engage in lively and civil debate. I revere the American political concept of “compromise.” But that bipartisan ship of state sailed when the Republican Party became the party of white supremacists, corporate monoliths, inherited wealth, and fanatical evangelicals, just to name a few groups that were embracing a “Make America Great Again” ethos way before the lawless 45th President came along.
Once upon a time, perhaps until the Presidency of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, the issues of debate between Liberals and Conservatives were pretty basic—size of government, taxation, the deficit, military spending, and foreign policy, with a sprinkling of social issues usually revolving around race. Then realizing their white “silent majority” base was shrinking in relation to the growth of minority populations and that they might lose power, the Republican Right adopted a triple-threat strategy—the politics of fear (launched most notably with the race-baiting Willie Horton ads of the 1992 George Bush I campaign that were created by former Paul Manafort and Roger Stone playmate Lee Atwater), co-opting divisive social issues to curry favor with evangelicals (the rights of women, gays, and minorities), and engaging in systematic voter suppression, particularly of the Black vote, all championed by a major Right Wing propaganda “news” network run by a former Richard Nixon/Reagan political consultant named Roger Ailes.
I can respect women who support Republican or Conservative policies, are knowledgeable about and intelligently debate the issues, and operate under a pre-demonization-of-all-Liberal-ideas paradigm. But unless you are an avowed “never-Trump” Republican or Conservative, you are simply an enabler of the most repellant individual to stroll the hallowed halls of the White House (and that includes Russian diplomats). In the Spring of 2018, I launched a series of Cabaret fundraising variety shows in New York to raise money for Democratic candidates running in that year’s midterm elections. After I sent out an email blast to sell tickets to my “Blue Wave” shows, a women theater producer friend replied, “Go Red!” After I jokingly responded that I hoped she was enjoying her big Trump/Paul Ryan tax cut (she also owns and sells real estate), she accused me of “drinking the Kool-Aid,” later adding a mini-monologue that while more articulate than probably 95 percent of the females who attend Trump rallies, also sounded positively Fox Newsian:
“Liberals and progressives sell themselves as tolerant, inclusive, and peaceful,” she began. “But I have not found that to be the case. One must fall in line. You sent me an email that promotes changing my country into a one-party system. I believe in a nation of laws, limited government, capitalism, secure borders, strong national defense, the ability to defend oneself, a balanced budget, individual responsibility, opportunity instead of entitlement, and not the continuation of perpetually keeping slaves on the plantation. So basically, I believe in the Republican platform. Please take me off your propaganda list.”
Whew! So mixed in with the standard issue conservative economic talking points, she listed most of the usual Right Wing dog whistles she believed would make her country great again. And even if she didn’t love Trump (she never mentioned his name in her messages), she seemed completely oblivious to how his job performance wasn’t exactly measuring up to her personal priorities as a Republican. You can’t justify supporting a borderline sociopath who’s running roughshod over the Constitution and every political and behavioral norm because he’s closer to where you are on some issues. My now-former friend had become A TRUMP WOMAN.
The most shameless and reprehensible of Trump’s Women during his Presidency were his high profile, obsequious toadies in the White House, Congress, and in the media. Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Ivanka Trump—The Witches of West Wing—must have taken lessons in dishonesty and obfuscation from Trump himself. The servile Senator from Maine Susan Collins couldn’t have been more of a hypocritical lapdog if she tried. Former Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler—who should have been banished from the Senate for insider trading—was only too happy to have Trump campaign for her before she lost her re-election bid the day before the January 6 insurrection, The Chairperson of the Republican National Committee Ronna Romney McDaniel (yes, her uncle is Mitt) had stripped whatever credibility the RNC might have had left to defend every crazy Trump policy or pronouncement. And the less said about the former so-called “Education Secretary” Betsy DeVos DeBetter.
The category of high profile Trump Women has only grown during the days of “The Big Lie Conspiracies.” In addition to the women lawyers who might be disbarred (Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis), there’s anti-vaccine South Dakota Governor and Trump-wannabe Kristi Noem, former “moderate” New York State Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (being floated as a potential 2024 Trump running mate), and gun-toting Marjorie Taylor-Green and Lauren Boebert, the Thelma and Louise of Congress, but without the brains and the charm. And, frankly, other than Liz Cheney and the handful of women who voted to impeach Trump and/or certify the 2020 election, every other woman Republican currently in the Congress or the Senate is A TRUMP WOMAN.
Then there is the rogues gallery of power, money, and fame-hungry careerists, intellectual lightweights, and outright bigots who polluted the airwaves with their noxious ideas and Trump enabling, especially Fox News hosts Laura Ingraham, Jeanine Pirro, and Maria Bartiromo (the former Wall Street-reporting “Money Honey,” who’s become a Trump-mouthpiece dummy). All of these women have clearly sold their souls to the orange-haired devil in a suit.
But picking apart the soulless faux news celebrities and political hacks among Trump’s Women is low-hanging fruitcakes. The shameless women mentioned above did not elect Donald Trump. That dastardly deed was carried out by (in no particular order) Fox News, Vladimir Putin, James Comey, Bernie Sanders, The Koch Brothers and their American Oligarchy ilk, misguided Independents, states that engaged in the systematic voter suppression that tipped the Electoral College in 2016, mainstream media news executives like CNN’s Jeff Zucker, Facebook and Twitter, and Trump’s so-called “base,” which is now nothing more than a CULT—millions of angry, resentful, scared white men and the women who love them, many of whom are evangelicals who believe the earth is a 6,000-year-old pancake and couldn’t see beyond their hatred of the first potential women President. Was Hillary Clinton a flawed candidate? Absolutely, but she was fighting against all of the above and in 2016 she still tallied three million more votes than Trump.
It wasn’t simply Hillary hatred that motivated these women to support Donald Trump. There is also an undeniable devotion among Right Wing females bordering on religious fervor. You saw the mindless adoration at those Third Reich-ian rallies where the men and boys wore 21st century KKK hoods posing as red baseball caps, and middle-aged, bleached blonde ladies in the first row behind the Racist-in-Chief waved “Women For Trump” signs. The really crude female fanatics held banners that uttered phrases like “Thank You, Russia, I’m a Trump Deplorable,” or wore t-shirts that read, “You Can Grab My P—Y Anytime, Mr. President.” Such is the insidious legacy of the Republican Party underfunding education for the past 50 years, especially in flyover country.
Then you have the women—from the wealthy to the working class—who were either behind-the-scenes supporters of January 6 activities or served as the destructive force on the steps and the halls of the Capitol. Publix chain heiress Julie Jenkins Fancelli donated most of the money used to sponsor the January 6 rally. She had previously donated around two million dollars to various Trump and RNC super PACs. One month after the riot, The New Republic wrote about “The Rich Mothers of the Insurrection,” detailing how groups like “Women for Trump” and “Women for America First” got the protest permits to shield the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers from law enforcement suspicion.
At about that same time, Ms. Magazine wrote that among the women rioters—many now facing jail time—were a florist, a real-estate agent, a doctor, a school therapist, and a mom who sold cheese at a farmer’s market. A 38-year-old woman from Pilot Mountain, North Carolina brought her 14-year-old child to the riot and into the Capitol and she ended up in Nancy Pelosi’s office. She’ll be sentenced on Friday. And one of the two insurrectionist women who died on 1/6, small business owner and QAnon follower Ashli Babbitt, has been treated as a martyr by Trump World.
This unfathomable hero worship is in spite of the fact that Trump was—and still is— a two-bit con man and media creation who has lied with impunity, ripped-off suppliers and unsuspecting real-estate students, turned business bankruptcy into an art form, demonized a Black President, insulted an American war hero, embraced authoritarian dictators, promoted racist tropes against fellow human beings, surrounded himself with some of the most vile characters on the planet, caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands during the pandemic due to his incompetence, and—what should be the most egregious behavior for women—been a serial adulterer and sexual-assaulting misogynist.
So who are Donald Trump’s Women? There are five categories, many if not all of which are inextricably linked. It’s possible that not all Trump Women reside in all five categories, but I’d bet all the laundered Trump Inauguration money that a large number of them do.
• Reality Show Robots: Religion may not be the “Opiate of the Masses,” as Karl Marx wrote, but for Trump’s Women television has clearly been their cultural addiction and Reality Shows their zombie-inducing fentanyl, the most toxic of which was “The Apprentice.”
For almost 15 years between 2004-2017 (that’s practically a generation; I hope teenage girls weren’t watching) and almost 300 episodes (including the insipid “Celebrity Apprentice”), millions of American women watched a testament to blind ambition, greed, avarice, and the authoritarian CEO style of a man who took perverse pleasure in figuratively cutting people’s throats. “The Apprentice” was Donald Trump’s first foray in the lead role of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” which he has continually reprised since 2016. With “The Apprentice,” reality-porn producer Mark Burnett actually created an alternate-reality squared because Trump was anything but the competent, successful, super-rich businessman portrayed on that depraved program.
Those female denizens of the Deep South and residents of the Rust Belt who would eventually vote for Trump didn’t know him the way New Yorkers knew him for the 30-plus years prior to his accession as TV Reality Show Fraud. To the majority of us “East Coast elitists,” including political leaders, journalists, bankers, fellow real-estate executives, dozens of bilked contractors, and sexually assaulted women, Trump was always a crude charlatan, shameless self-promoter, and wannabe organized crime boss, who established his racist bona fides 30 years ago when he told the world he wanted five ultimately innocent Black and Hispanic teenage boys put to death.
• Fox News Fundamentalists: The actual “Fake News” organization owned by Australian immigrant Rupert Murdoch (who shouldn’t have been allowed to cross any American border) has now been around for 25 years or long enough to totally indoctrinate a generation into believing the most repugnant Right Wing propaganda since Leni Riefenstahl created films for Nazi Germany. In this category, Trump’s Women exist on both ends of the TV screen. How do we know that the mindless viewer part of that equation is likely watching Fox News on an endless loop? Because the Republican Party’s percentage of the total American electorate is below 30 percent and falling, yet Fox’s current primetime audience is 2.4 million. Women at Trump rallies have been seen wearing t-shirts that read “Fake News” with a list of the “mainstream” news networks. Guess which one doesn’t make the cut? Hint: It’s spelled F-O-X.
• Patriarchy Princesses: This is a relatively new term that in the age of “Me Too” has been attached to classic female Disney animated movie characters, but it’s a more appropriate moniker for Trump’s Women. One definition I found in an essay on the website Medium described PPs as “a female human who upholds the patriarchy for the sole purpose of being in the male gaze and enjoying admiration from men for standing up to bitter feminists.” The writer went on to characterize some ways many PPs behave [my examples of their targets in the following categories are in parentheses]: Blame any woman who has been sexually assaulted [all the women who accused Trump and Brett Kavanaugh’s rape accuser Christine Blasey Ford]; Slut-shame any and every woman for being in control of and enjoys their sexuality [Stormy Daniels]; Scoff at feminists and call them angry and bitter all the while enjoying the benefits that previous feminists have fought for and won [Hillary Clinton]. Five women ran for the 2020 Democratic nomination as President. God only knows what the female gatekeepers of the patriarchy were saying about them at the dinner table.
• Anti-Everything Evangelicals: The good news is that there are a fair number of anti-Trump evangelical leaders, and many millennial-age evangelicals who support human rights and protecting the environment. The bad news: The large majority of the rank and file—80 percent of whom voted for Trump—still support him and agree with every pro-Trump word uttered by his religious leader enablers. Anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigrant, anti-science, and anti-feminism, they support Trump because as Cambridge University social scientist Katie Gaddini has pointed out, “Trump successfully taps into an evangelical narrative, based on white American nationalism and returning Christians to their rightful place at the center of American life.” Ergo: MAGA.
To anti-everything evangelical women, gender identity isn’t on their radar compared with their racial and religious identity, which accounts for their lack of outrage over the famous Hollywood Access tape that would have ended any other Presidential candidacy. Says John Pavlovitz, an anti-Trump pastor, writer, and activist from North Carolina: “What I can’t fathom are women who affirm and celebrate something so seemingly antithetical to their well-being; that with every word and every bit of evidence suggests that they are of little value. That affirmation feels like an act of self-harm.” The three categories of Trump’s Women outlined above all include a heaping helping of anti-everything evangelicals, but they mostly reside in the next category—the most anti-religious, anti-spiritual and, anti-tolerant one . . .
• Willful White Supremacists: During those rare times before and during his Presidency when I could bring myself to watch news lowlights of a Trump rally, my anger was mixed with sadness when I saw adolescents, especially the girls, wearing MAGA hats and chanting, “Build the Wall” or “Lock Her Up.” But could they help it? At that age political affiliation develops like devotion to a sports team—it comes from the parents, primarily the dads. And assuming many of Trump’s Women are Patriarchy Princesses, the girls are also taking their political cues from their fathers, with their mothers totally complicit. So it was heartbreaking to see young women and their moms completely onboard with the most hateful, disgusting, dangerous, and anti-American aspect of Trumpism and the priority agenda of the Right Wing (and their propaganda arm at Fox News)—WHITE SUPREMACY.
They lived through eight years of a man with a Black face in the White House long before anyone thought possible and it angered them. They see non-White immigrants at the Southern border who seek asylum and that pisses them off enough to support THE WALL, basically a monolithic symbol of hate, fear, bigotry, and exclusion. They know that Whites will be the minority race in America by 2045 and that terrifies them. And in Donald J. Trump they found the ideal vehicle through which to act on all those negative impulses. Almost every single policy of the extreme Right Wing (there is no longer a “Republican Party”) is based on maintaining White Supremacy, from voter suppression to federal judgeships to immigration policy. Even economic, taxation, and education policy is designed to maintain income inequality just enough to keep Blacks and Hispanics from attaining anything higher than working class status.
For Willful White Supremacist American women, everything old is new again. White women in hoods were marching alongside men at KKK rallies in the 1920s and by the end of 1923, 36 states had Women of the KKK chapters. Long before Hillary Clinton, white segregationist women were demonizing Eleanor Roosevelt for her progressive politics and commitment to racial equality. And ever since the Brown v Board of Education Supreme Court case in 1954, white women on the right have been at the forefront in the fight against integration of schools. The Trump Women like to claim they support Trump because of “economic anxiety.” But as writer and activist Kim Kelly wrote for BitchMedia.org last year, “Some of that 53 percent of white women voted for Trump to uphold an ancient, bloody order, and those sins cannot be forgotten.”
Women of America, whoever and wherever you are . . . for your sake and your children’s, I beg you: Abandon Donald Trump, reject QAnon, and stop watching FOX News . . . Leave the dark side and come into the light . . . Denounce your support of what happened on January 6, 2021. All your sins my not be forgotten . . . but they will be forgiven.
Top photo: Shutterstock