My father once said, If you ever speak in public, lower your voice. Stand tall, square your shoulders, and look confident. And wear a nice jacket, like a suit jacket. I would practice in front of the mirror, lowering my voice, wearing one of his large men’s jackets that smelled of him—of whiskey and talcum powder.
Actually I am lying. My father never said how I should speak in public. Instead he made fun of my mother when she became an activist, speaking out at town meetings, her face turning red, her voice quivering. Several times her photo was on the front of the newspaper. Her voice gets so high, my father said. And shrill. And she wears the wrong dresses. And looks old in the photographs.
In other words, she looked and sounded like a middle-aged woman. My father asked her to use her maiden name if she was ever going to be interviewed again.
I’ve thought about this a lot since then, especially when I listen to women candidates like Hillary Clinton speak. She lowers her voice. She squares her shoulders. She looks confident, if tired. God forbid if she should ever become emotional or shrill. One could guess that her feminine side is not an asset.
My father was not critical of the men who spoke out at the same town meetings as my mother, and who were also featured in the newspaper. None of them looked appealing. Most of them were balding white men in suits. Nor did my father grade the timbre of their voices. I asked if they spoke well, and he said in an absent-minded voice, Not particularly.
That’s the first time it occurred to me that you can get away with a lot if you are a man and not much if you are a woman.
I’ve tried to make this point in many ways, and most recently in my book, Why God Is a Woman, in which I envisioned an imaginary world where gender roles are reversed. But again and again, I hear men argue with me, saying, We have it just as hard.
I beg to differ. Men, I want to say, get away with what my father called a-hell-of-alot.
Donald Trump is my case in point.
Imagine, if you will, a balding, orange woman, running for president. How long would you last?
Now imagine a balding, orange woman with no experience, running for president.
Imagine this orange, balding and female candidate, married to her third young male sex toy.
Yes, go ahead. Let yourself imagine a rich and powerful woman, a Trumpette, that likes to think of men as her possession, to be discarded with age.
Now imagine this orange, balding woman who does nothing but brag nonstop, and who is running for president.
(Modesty, we women know, is one of our many assets. What do men know about modesty?)
Then imagine this same balding woman-candidate making fun of others, maybe enjoying telling John McCain that he’s no war hero, as if she knows exactly what a war hero is.
Really, imagine what would happen if Hillary Clinton made fun of John McCain.
Imagine this hideous orange woman-candidate, announcing what a sexy thing she is, bragging about her breast size as Donald Trump went on about his penis size.
Imagine this Trumpette saying about her son If Ivan weren’t my son, perhaps I’d be dating him. Or talking about her newborn boy and wondering about the size his sex might be in the future—as Donald Trump did when looking at his baby Tiffany’s breasts.