This column may contain strong language, sexual content, adult humor, and other themes that may not be suitable for minors. Parental guidance is strongly advised.
Do you hear that? That’s the sound of the patriarchy in its death throes. The whimper of desperation from the entitled white self-styled alpha male personified by one particular orange-hued man, all id and ego and zero superego, facing extinction. The pathetic wailing of a misogynistic, sexist, racist, narcissistic bully who whines like a crybaby when outmaneuvered, outsmarted and outclassed by—gasp!—a woman he has constantly denigrated, taunted, disrespected and clearly underestimated
He said it as if it were the absolute worst thing you could say to and about a woman. “Nasty” for clueless EQ-challenged men like Donald Trump, was obviously a highly gendered insult meant to attack a woman such as Hillary Clinton on all levels.
An entertaining and illuminating article in The Atlantic attempts to present a brief feminist history of the word “nasty.” Megan Garber wrote, in deciphering the many meanings of “nasty”:
“What is evident, though, is that ‘nasty,’ for hundreds of years, has neatly combined the notion of physical dirtiness with filth of a more moral strain. Hamlet, via Shakespeare, used the word to combine sex with that infamously dirty animal, the pig: ‘Nay, but to live/ In the rank sweat of an enseamèd bed,/ Stewed in corruption, honeying and making love/ Over the nasty sty.’ Since the 1630s, ‘nasty’ has also been used to describe bad weather, which affects both one’s physical being and one’s psychic outlook. Since the early 1700s, it’s been used to describe generally unpleasant things. And, as an insult to women, in particular, ‘it dates back to colonial times,’ Caroline Light, a gender studies professor at Harvard University, told The Washington Post. “A ‘nasty’ woman is one who refuses to remain in her proper place, as defined by men. One who challenges male authority.’”
Pop culture, mainly through music, would add another layer to the meaning of “nasty,” this time with a sexual connotation, one of adventurousness and a disregard for stringent social conventions.
As Gerber noted, for Trump, the word was “An efficient insult that impugns women prismatically. In referring to Clinton as ‘a nasty woman,’ Trump was insulting her as both a physical and moral entity: He was denigrating her looks, her personality, and her moral character. He was suggesting ugliness, ickiness, and lasciviousness. He was replicating, essentially, the regressive assumptions that are rampant in a culture that still demands that women be, above all, pleasing.”
And yet, what Trump and his ilk failed to grasp is that the term “nasty” had lost its power to sting, and instead had undergone yet another transformation, this time hardly an insult but a feminist badge of honor, a rallying cry for all women, an assertion of power and control. (Hence the Janet Jackson-inspired memes that immediately proliferated after the third and final debate.)
It’s such a dick move, trying to shut a woman down by branding her as nasty. But Hillary didn’t flinch; the words hardly threw her off her game. Unlike her opponent, she didn’t lose her cool and remained in total control—of her temperament, of the trajectory of the debate, and, yes, of Donald Trump, too, mocking him and taunting him ever so slyly to get a rise out of him.
“On the day I was in the Situation Room monitoring the raid that brought Osama bin Laden to justice,” she declared, “he was hosting the ‘Celebrity Apprentice.”
And like the dick he is, he tried to get back at her the next night at a Catholic fundraiser. His speech was, in actual fact, nasty—and that’s without the sexual connotations of the word at all. It was emblematic of the politics of pique that Trump (and his Asian alter-ago Duterte) mistake for macho leadership.
Trump was, once again, pussy-whipped by the person whose stamina and temperament he derided endlessly throughout the campaign. Moreover, he was booed by the guests at the event. Apparently, being jeered at by the audience less than 24 hours before for saying “No one respects women more than I do,” and then proceeding to contradict that very statement did not quite sink into his ego. What will certainly sink in in the coming weeks and months and perhaps for the rest of his life is that he has officially become a joke.
And he will never live in the White House.
Whether one likes Hillary or not, it cannot be disputed that Hillary is running for a position that she is eminently qualified for, and that her opponent is woefully and shamelessly not. The fact that she even had to share the debate stage three times with a pussy-grabbing, consent-dispensing, disability-mocking, slut-shaming, system-gaming, truth-evading, multiple lawsuit-facing conman, admitted sex predator with an overinflated sense of self-worth, both literally and financially, who has, to boot, next to no understanding of how government works, how terrorism is confronted, how foreign policy is crafted, much less how a baby is extracted from the womb of its mother, is in itself a much huger insult than calling her “nasty.”
That the Republicans pandered to him and chose him as their party’s presidential nominee knowing he was scum is equally indicative of their smug and disgraceful sexism. They all shrugged their collective shoulders, convinced that the candidate with balls would win. What they failed to realize was that that candidate was actually a woman.
Yeah, she nasty. And she slays. In a pantsuit and high heels.
But what of the toxic brand of hypermasculinity that Trump so proudly wears like his ill-fitting suits? (Indeed, why do they all wear such poorly-tailored suits?)
According to a Slate piece by Evan Urquhart:
“Donald Trump has a clear idea of what a real man is, and it’s not pretty. A real man is someone with the courage to openly disparage people for their ethnic heritage. Someone who will bluster, lie, or stonewall rather than admit to gaps in his knowledge and understanding. Someone who will succeed in business at any cost, whether that means stiffing his contractors, avoiding taxes despite great wealth, or declaring bankruptcy and spinning it as a clever negotiating tactic. But above all, a real man is someone who shows his power by alternately demeaning women and bragging about his conquests.”
What makes the article interesting is that Evan is transitioning into manhood after living as a woman for 30 years. The rise of Donald Trump, among other things, compels him to question what it means to be a man today, whether masculinity is posited in the rejection of everything to do with womanliness.
And yet, he asks himself, “When demeaning, dominating, and objectifying women has been entirely removed from masculinity, what will be left?”
You get a real man, for starters. A man who respects women is not threatened by them. A man who also happens to be a feminist. Like Barack Obama. And Justin Trudeau.
B. Wiser is the author of Making Love in Spanish, a novel published earlier this year by Anvil Publishing and available in National Book Store and Powerbooks, as well as online. When not assuming her Sasha Fierce alter-ego, she takes on the role of serious journalist and media consultant.
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Art by Dorothy Guya