Vulgar Misogyny Didn’t Harm Donald Trump – It Helped Him

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The crucial attempt to understand that moment and why it didn’t represent the end of everything for Trump is finally starting. Oprah Winfrey has led the charge. For the latest issue of O magazine, she gathered a cross-section of voters, five from each side. In her best therapist’s voice, Oprah says: “He said a lot of hurtful, divisive things. Can we all agree with that?” The Democrats spend the meeting weeping (literally). Oprah acknowledges their tears, but lets the Trump voters have their say. When Oprah works her way up to a discreet mention of “the P word”, the responses are blunt: “It was a private conversation and I’ve heard men say far worse.” And, importantly, the next reply: “What about Bill Clinton?” This is the pussy version of “But her emails … ” These defences have not changed in six months.

Unfortunately these responses reveal a logic liberals need to understand if they are to have any hope of countering it. I experienced this “defence of the pussy” first-hand recently after Piers Morgan retweeted something I wrote (to his five million followers). Morgan had questioned the validity of the women’s marches and suggested a march for emasculated men. I replied I would come with him when a woman is recorded inviting similar abuse of men’s genitals. (Except I said it more bluntly than that.) Trump supporters fought back in their exhausting hundreds.

Their reasoning was fascinating. They had no problem with the “pussy” thing. For them it was not a comment on Trump’s vulgarity or misogyny. It was a comment on how “easy” women are. They didn’t focus, as liberals did, on the words “grab them by the pussy”. They heard the previous quote: “When you’re a star, they let you do it.” It was a comment about people who have got it coming and who have had it coming for a long time. In other words, a bully’s charter.

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