Right now, women across the globe have good reason to feel a deep, burning fury. Not that we haven’t always had it. It’s just that these days, the men around us aren’t pretending any more.
It was Germaine Greer who claimed that “women have very little idea of how much men hate them.” Well, now we know. It’s reached a point where they’re no longer even trying to hide it.
For years we sought to convince ourselves that men’s oppression of women – the rapes, the beatings, the killings, the theft of time and resources and hope – had been nothing more than some random, unhappy accident. We reasoned that once men were made to understand that women were every bit as human as them, all of this would stop. Men would no longer feel justified in stealing our resources, appropriating our labour, taking credit for our ideas, abusing our bodies, excluding us from all the decisions that shaped our lives. They didn’t mean to do it. It was all a misunderstanding, fuelled by religion, superstition and free-floating, abstract prejudice (a misunderstanding that millennia of women who’d gone before us had, inexplicably, never got round to clearing up).
But something has changed. There is nothing particularly unique about the misogyny of Donald Trump. He’s hardly the first woman-hating world leader and he won’t be the last. What’s more, as the likes of Piers Morgan are so keen to remind us, women in the US currently have rights that many elsewhere are denied. Yet what’s different about Trump is the sheer nakedness of his hate. There’s no real effort made to blame it on the Word of God or family values or the magic, catch-all “innate difference.” It’s about power and nothing else. “You can do anything. Grab ‘em by the pussy.” I treat women like pieces of meat because I can.
Illustration: Polish women striking against proposed abortion ban, October 2016, by SpiderMum (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons