Seriously, America? Donald Trump?
Megyn Kelly has been widely praised for her skillful moderation of last Thursday's GOP debate. Many noted that the Fox News host asked sharp yet substantial questions and took a no-nonsense approach to her delivery. But one of the most talked-about moments of the night was inarguably her take-down of Donald Trump.
It's common knowledge that Donald Trump has a history of making particularly sexist and racist comments. Trump notoriously once called Rosie O’Donnell a “fat pig,” told a 'Celebrity Apprentice' contestant to 'drop to her knees,' and recently told a lawyer she was “disgusting” for asking for a medical break during a deposition to pump her breasts for her infant son. He's reportedly acted egregiously as well: For example, the claim that Trump raped his ex-wife, Ivana, while they were married recently re-surfaced (which his lawyer inaccurately stated is impossible).
It's questionable whether a man who has continuously behaved this way should represent this nation, and Kelly hardly shied away from pointing this out.
"Mr. Trump," she said during the debate, "One of the things people love about you is you speak your mind and you don't use a politician's filter. However, that is not without its downsides, especially when it comes to women. In particular, you've called women you don't like 'fat pigs,' 'dogs,' 'slobs,' and 'disgusting animals.' Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women's looks," she noted.
"Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as President, and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton — who is likely to be the Democratic nominee — that you are part of the war on women?" she asked the candidate.
Donald Trump’s response? That neither he nor America has time for political correctness, and that he’s been very nice to Megyn Kelly even though she’d been picking on him and he didn’t have to stand for it. The next day, he decided to prove his point by making a sexist period joke.
"You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes," Trump told CNN on Friday night. "Blood coming out of her wherever."
Although Trump can't seem to tell the difference, there is, in fact, a clear distinction between political correctness and common decency. It is one thing to use terms in order to avoid offending people and another thing altogether to simply be discourteous towards other people. Sexually harassing one of your show’s contestants on national television is not all in good fun, as you said in the debate. Calling any female reporter or journalist willing to expose aspects of your life and business you didn’t want out there (not just Rosie O'Donnell) a 'slob,' 'pig,' or 'dog' is unacceptable. These actions don't buck political correctness: they're sexist and hateful.
But Trump alone cannot be solely blamed — he is, after all, the current GOP frontrunner even despite these comments. Even while responding to Kelly, for instance, the audience at the debate applauded and egged the candidate on. Public Policy Polling reports that in Iowa, one of the major election lynchpin states, Trump is leading the Republican favorability polls with a 32% rating.
Trump is clearly part of a larger problem. A massive part, to be sure, but hardly the sole offender. As a feminist, I’m offended by the fact that a misogynist is dominating the polls determining the future leader of America. As a human being, I’m offended that a racist misogynist can be allowed to say horrible things about minorities, immigrants, and women and still be an option for President, let alone a frontrunner.
Which begs the question: Seriously, America? We can — and must — do better.
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