At the Boston Review, Kate Manne explores the relationship between sexism and misogyny as manifested in Donald Trump and his supporters. She argues that misogyny can be thought of as the enforcement mechanism for sexism: sexism is believing that women belong “in their place,” which is inherently inferior to and servile to men, while misogyny is a means of putting and keeping them there if they dare step foot beyond their prescribed bounds.
It is a long and thoughtful piece that warrants your attention. Here’s a bit.
Trump’s misogyny has given us vivid examples of the phenomenon at its crudest. Trump is in many ways the American id—especially for the white men who comprise the majority of his voter base. He has won millions of supporters, partly by holding up a mirror to a certain segment of the population, reflecting its anxieties, hopes, fantasies, and narcissism. To make American white men feel great again is Trump’s implicit promise. This will involve casting others down the relevant social hierarchies.
But his misogyny is, for better or worse, strictly limited. This is because of a striking and alarming limitation of Trump generally: he seems to lack a superego, or even the ability to mimic one. This explains both his remarkable shamelessness and the non-moralistic quality of his misogyny. It isn’t moralistic because Trump isn’t either. His normative words are simplistic and aesthetic terms of praise: “best,” “beautiful,” “great,” and “winning,” are some of his favorites. When he tries to engage in moral talk, he becomes uncharacteristically flummoxed.