“Nobody has more respect for women than I do. Nobody.” The word of such a prominent man should not simply be dismissed. In what does this respect consist?
Natasha Stoynoff alleged he had stuck his tongue down her throat. Mr Trump’s response was, Take a look. Look at her. Look at her words. And you tell me what you think. I don’t think so. So judging women on their looks is respect.
Note, though, that he does not expect to be believed: rather than simply denying the allegations as beneath contempt, which they would be were they untrue, he needs evidence to persuade you he is telling the truth: the alleged unattractiveness of the women. The dignified response would be simply to deny the allegations, but instead he abuses the accusers, as “horrible”, “sick”, and “phony”. This is his level of respect. He claims he has lied before: his boasts of kissing women without consent were “locker room talk”, he says, at least implying that they were not true. So his assault of Natasha Stoynoff is “respect”.
That boast- wanting the “respect” of a television presenter, wanting to appear to be more violent with women than he now claims he is, shows his pitiable situation: he wants to appear to others as something he imagines they would respect. He wants to seem, rather than to be, respectable, and his concept of respectable is wholly governed by context: he imagines Mr Bush would “respect” a man who grabs women between the legs, so he claims to do so. Later, with people he imagines would not admire him for assaulting women, he claims not to. He has no conception of what respect is. He has no belief in his ability to earn it, rather than frantically grasping after it with false boasts. Seeking respect he believes he is not entitled to becomes a constant battle.
His situation is pitiable. He does not see that the position of major party nominee, a notable achievement, is by itself worthy of respect, so referring to Mrs Clinton walking in front of him he said, “believe me I wasn’t impressed”. Not seeing the respect due to her means that he cannot see the respect that his position would entitle any other person to. Generally people treat others with the respect we have for ourselves.
His respect for women is also shown on the issue of abortion. He would let states regulate it. Mrs Clinton considers it should be a medical rather than legal issue, for the woman and her medical advisers. He does not respect women enough to let them make their own decisions. He prefers the decisions of elderly Republican men.
Mr Trump is the nominee of the Republican Party for the President of the US. Not every senator or congressman of that party has distanced themself from him. His name adorns tall buildings, indicating the respect the business community holds for him- for the point of calling a building “Trump” is to profit from the business good-will accruing to his name and brand, which he values at several billion dollars. He has been a television personality. The respect he is held in indicates the level of respect a wide swath of American society has for women.
“Nobody has more respect for women than I do. Nobody,” he asserts. There, he was not blustering, not showing any consciousness of not telling truth. He is in the right. Any woman who accuses him is in the wrong, many of them “crazy”. He can only lose the election if it is rigged. He has done one service: everyone has seen what “gaslighting” is.