Not Fit For Office

About fifty years ago a prominent track and field official was quoted in Wellington’s Dominion newspaper. In response to a question about why a female athlete had not been selected for the New Zealand Olympic Games team he said, “No woman should be selected if a good man is available.”

Thank God those attitudes are a thing of the past. Or are they? This week the most powerful man in the world, Donald Trump, President of the United States of America, described a prominent MSNBC television presenter as, “Low I.Q. Crazy Mika bleeding badly from a face-lift.” It is not the first time Trump has resorted to assaulting women. He has publically commented on Megyn Kelly’s menstruation, fat-shamed a former Miss Universe, questioned the physical appearance of Hillary Clinton, Arianna Huffington, Rosie O’Donnell, Carly Fiorina and Heidi Cruz and has claimed special gender rights that include grabbing women by the pussy.

There is no place anywhere for that sort of behaviour; not in Joe’s Diner, not in a truck stop on the I95 and certainly not in the White House Oval Office. Trump’s defence, that he was just hitting back after being attacked is pathetic. He is the President of the United States for God’s sake. Hasn’t he ever heard words like class and dignity? It appears not. Have you noticed recently how often Trump mentions God. We need to pray for this and pray for that and thank God for the United States of America. Well Mr Trump let me direct you to the Book of Mathew, Chapter 5 and Verse 39. It says, “But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Oh and one other verse may help, Romans Chapter 12 and Verse 19. It says, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”

I am aware that an appeal to Christian values is meaningless when the object of discussion is Donald Trump. Male or female, he hates people who challenge him. But he especially hates women who question his divine power. In his mind the weakest are challenging the strongest. For Trump there is only one response, attack where the women are most vulnerable – their intelligence, their looks and their biology. Trump simply does not understand that from here to the gutter ain’t up.

Without question Trump’s behaviour is classic misogyny. What that means is Trump can come across as gallant and chivalrous because he sees himself as superior to women. But what he hates is certain behaviours deemed unbecoming to women such as power, independence and ambition. Where the misogynistic behavior comes in is when women do not behave in the way Trump deems appropriate. In Trump’s world women need to be secondary to him, their principle function is to promote his masculine image, they must not compete with him and they are not to be taken seriously. Their purpose is to be a trophy enhancing the master’s image. When women violate Trump’s misogyny rules he becomes verbally and physically abusive. As I say, classic misogyny.   

I am reluctant to spring to the defence of women. I get tired of men who speak on behalf of women; who know what women’s reproductive rights should be and who claim authority to decide on women’s civil liberties and conditions. It is disgraceful that the health care bill being considered in the US Senate includes maternity care, contraception services and the like and was written in secret by 13 men. Women can best speak for themselves. They do not need my help. However, at the risk of becoming another male interfering where I am not needed, there is a swimming aspect to all this that I do want to have aired.  

In my time as a swimming coach I have been fortunate enough to coach some women whose courage, independence and application has left me speechless; they were tough beyond belief. I have sat for a thousand hours on the side of tracks and swimming pools watching female athletes do some incredible feats. The pinnacle of application in my type of aerobic training program is running 100 miles a week or swimming 100 kilometres in a week. They are both extremely difficult. Swimming 100 kilometres in a week involves 4000 lengths of the pool and means being soaked in chlorine water for about 30 hours. The hurt is extreme. Chlorine burns the skin raw. The monotony is stunning. It is hard, very,very hard.

And yet I’ve coached 14 women who have run or swum that far, week after week. Here are their names – Alison, Toni, Nichola, Jane, Ruth, Nichole, Fara, Tiffany, Rhi, Kirstie, Jessica, Lara, Bridget and Abigail. There is nothing weak about this group. Their swimming application takes second place to no one. And they were successful – thirteen of the fourteen competed in National Open Championship finals, twelve won a National Open Championship medal and eight won a National Open Championship title. They were hard workers and high achievers.

And that is the annoying thing about Trump’s behaviour. When I hear him say the things he says I can’t help but take it personally. I see it as an attack on the high achieving women I know. And quite simply he is not allowed to do that; not ever. When he demeans a successful female TV presenter he demeans all successful women. When he personally insults a talented female political competitor he insults all female competitors. When he chooses to obsess about Megyn Kelly’s period he turns all women into biological objects.

The example of these 14 women shows clearly why Donald Trump is not fit to be in the White House. Their example confirms that the task is not to reform Donald Trump but to “repeal and replace”. He needs to be sent back to Trump Tower, to a place where his wife and daughters seem to be happy to excuse and live with a crass 71 year old baby.


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