A popular mantra of political discourse in this presidential season involves lecturing women not to cast our votes as women.
There are various versions of this mantra, coming mostly from conservatives and too many Bernie-or-bust folks, designed to prevent us from voting for one of our own just because she’s one of our own.
My personal favorite is, “Don’t vote with your vagina.” Believe me when I tell you that no good comes from trying to picture that. Let it go.
The assumption behind this myopic view of a woman’s mind is that most women support Hillary Clinton because somewhere inside every American woman resides a 5-foot-5-inch tall white grandmother with blond hair and kitten heels. Or something like that. I really don’t want to spend much time wading in the shallow end of their minds.
At least a dozens times a week, I hear this mantra, regardless of the topic. When I objected on social media to Donald Trump’s mocking gold star mother Ghazala Khan, for example, the 10th response was, “Oh, yeah? So you’re voting for Hillary because she’s a woman.”
I hear this. All. Day. Long.
So far, explaining that Hillary Clinton is the most qualified candidate to run for president in my lifetime has failed to convince those who apparently have been residing on the planet Dagobah for the past 59 years. I’ve learned — and my, is this the season for lessons — that defending my support for Hillary can inspire the sort of responses that leave me marveling at the vile stuff some people let crawl across their tongues.
Moving right along.
Earlier this week at a Trump rally, a baby began to cry. I’m inclined to think that infant has the power of prophecy, but let’s assume for the moment that she or he was just rattled by the usual chants of racism and misogyny that have become so common at Trump rallies.
For a few seconds there, Trump seemed to be almost fatherly — in a healthy way, even.
“Don’t worry about that baby,” he said into the microphone. “I love babies. I hear that baby crying, I like it. I like it. What a baby, what a beautiful baby. Don’t worry.”
New York Times reporter Nick Corasaniti described what happened next:
“But the platitudes did nothing to comfort the infant, whose persistent wails seemed to be getting on the candidate’s nerves.
“‘Actually, I was only kidding. You can get that baby out of here,’ Mr. Trump said a few beats later with a slight smirk as laughs and a few gasps escaped from the crowd. ‘Don’t worry, I think she really believed me that I love having a baby crying while I’m speaking. That’s O.K. People don’t understand. That’s O.K.'”
Ah. There he is.
After seeing that video clip, I was reminded of a story about Gloria Steinem and crying babies that I’d heard many years ago. A quick search on Google and I found this 2014 account from Karin Lippert, who was Ms. magazine’s promotion director from 1972 to 1981:
“Sometimes in a college lecture hall there would be thousands and thousands of people … and sometimes in smaller groups there would be a woman with a crying baby in the back of the room. Gloria would say, ‘Would the woman with the crying baby please stay.’ And everybody applauded, and everybody got teary-eyed. It was an era when women were always told, ‘You can’t have your child misbehave’ and she would have left the room.”
We women have moved on, you see, and one of the things we left behind is men like Donald Trump.
When Khan stood silently next to her husband on that stage at the Democratic convention, Trump speculated that she wasn’t allowed to speak.
When one woman after another at Fox so-called News said Roger Ailes sexually harassed them, Trump said they should have pursued other careers.
When Megyn Kelly dared to question Trump about all the awful things he’s said about women, he later accused her of being on her period.
And you know what? Sometimes it’s true that women think alike. Because every time Donald Trump makes such statements about women, millions of us look at him and think the same thing:
Oh, I know you.
And our collective memory is bad, bad news for candidate Trump.
Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism. She is the author of two books, including “…and His Lovely Wife,” which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. To find out more about Connie Schultz (email@example.com) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
Photo: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky