Donald Trump just couldn’t help himself. At the third and final presidential debate in Las Vegas Wednesday night, after calling Hillary Clinton a liar, a thief and a criminal, he buckled under a crack she made about his character. Discussing her plan for changing the ceiling on taxable income for Social Security, she noted that even Trump would only have to pay an incremental increase under her plan, “assuming he can’t figure out a way to get out of it.”
“Such a nasty woman,” Trump interjected.
And with that, every smart woman who’s sought to make her way in the world summoned a memory.
Maybe it was a schoolyard memory of a boy she bested in an argument. Maybe a memory of a coworker telling her some guy at the workplace had said that about her after she made a forceful defense of an idea. Maybe some random guy on the street who felt rejected after she ignored his order to smile on command.
Note that Trump didn’t simply say, “that’s unfair,” or maybe, “that’s nasty.” It was important to label Hillary Clinton, the person, in a gendered way. His opponent is not merely “nasty,” she is “a nasty woman,” something far more horrifying.
Because, in his estimation, women are always supposed to be nice to Trump. It’s their duty, and his right to expect. Grab ‘em by the pussy, and expect them to be nice. Walk in on them in their dressing rooms, and expect them to be nice. Tell a radio shock jock it’s okay to call your daughter “a great piece of ass,” and expect her to be nice. It’s his birthright, after all, to have all women, everywhere, be nice to him, regardless of what he says or does to them. Surely, all of the women in his life are nice to hime—but they all report to him, in one way or another.
I’ve been called nasty simply for arguing politics with a man at a party. Nasty for trying to keep a know-nothing at a workplace from doing something that would have harmed the company. Nasty for challenging brogressives on their support of a neo-libertarian. But I digress….
Yet if Trump can turn even a question about the Supreme Court to an answer about how he felt treated by an individual justice (Ruth Bader Ginsburg said mean things about me!), why can’t I make this debate all about me?
I’ve been grabbed by the pussy, rated on my appearance, walked in on while dressing, had my rights abridged by the law, my former status as a menstruator mocked, and my intelligence insulted when I was deemed—physical flaws notwithstanding—too hot to be smart. And you know what? So have a lot of other women; women who vote.
The more Trump makes this election all about himself, the more women of America will choose to make it about themselves. And in that event, Trump clearly loses. Not that he’ll necessarily accept the outcome.
Adele M. Stan is AlterNet’s senior Washington editor, and a weekly columnist for The American Prospect. Follow her on Twitter @addiestan.
Reprinted with permission from Alternet.
Photo: Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trumpspeaks as Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton listens during their third and final 2016 presidential campaign debate at UNLV in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Ralston