FILE - In this Aug. 6, 2015, file photo, Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Jeb Bush participate in the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Presidential debates were big draws and big business for the networks that presented them in 2015 _ at least, when Donald Trump was involved. The first Republican debate was watched by 24 million viewers, the highest-rated broadcast in Fox News Channel's history. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File) (AP)

Forget Donald Trump's "schlong," the sexist stuff other Republicans say is far more offensive

Trump's "schlong" comment isn't nearly as bad as what Bush, Paul and Huckabee are saying about Clinton


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Amanda Marcotte
December 23, 2015 9:39PM (UTC)

Monday night, in a preview of what we get to enjoy for nearly all of 2016 if Donald Trump gets the nomination, the mighty yam-head managed to make news by saying that Hillary Clinton "got schlonged" by Barack Obama in 2008. The vivid phallic imagery not only made the comment headline-worthy but also made it feel uglier and more sexist than some of the more common synonyms would have felt. So the cycle kicked in: Heavy media coverage, denunciations by Clinton, Trump defending himself.

The problem here is, memorable nature of the word "schlonged" aside, the comment really ranks low in terms of sexist things that Republican candidates like Jeb Bush and Rand Paul — and Trump at other moments — have said about Clinton.

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My personal theory is that Trump was about to say "fucked" or "screwed" — words that have become so ubiquitous that they generally aren't regarded as sexist once you leave Oberlin's campus — but then he remembered at the last moment that conservatives really don't like the cusses, and grabbed for the first euphemism that came to mind. His follow-up tweet is evidence for this theory:

It's a telling defense, as it demonstrates neatly that, in right-wing circles, it's OK to say all sorts of bigoted and sexist things, as long as you avoid saying a naughty. That it ended up producing a phrase that is more jarring than saying "fucked" ever would be is just one of the more comical results of this bizarre conservative emphasis on form over content.

But while the media goes nuts because Trump couldn't come up with a gentler euphemism, the rest of the field is saying things about Clinton that are more toxic in their sexism. Jeb Bush's response to all this, for instance, is much nastier. After issuing a routine condemnation of Trump for not maintaining "a level of decorum" and for using "profanities," Bush turned on Clinton. "She's great at being the victim," Bush went on. "You know this will enhance her 'victimology' status. This is what she loves doing." In case you forgot for a moment that Hillary Clinton is the universal symbol to conservative men for the supposed sins of your ex-wife.

Bush's attack on Clinton is far more sexist than Trump using a dick joke to replace a commonly used profanity. It isn't just that Bush is employing the misogynist stereotype about women being manipulative. He's also using that stereotype to discredit feminism generally, playing off-right wing claims that women who speak out about sexism don't actually care about equality, but are just trying to score feminist points that can be later cashed in for credit at Sephora.

It's a trope that reduces not just Clinton but all of feminism to your ex-wife, who you are certain was just crying to make you feel bad, because it couldn't possibly be because you're a dick. Or a schlong, as it were. But that is conservative thinking on this matter in a nutshell: It's okay to invoke viciously misogynist stereotypes that undermine the larger movement towards women's equality, but using a dirty word? Heaven forfend. Also more offensive than the word "schlong": The way that so many Republicans have decided that the only way a woman can qualify to be president is if she agrees to suppress basic biological needs, namely urination. Outrage that Clinton had to pee during the recent debate bathroom break is quickly becoming a Republican talking point.

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He's not saying that merely being a woman disqualifies you from having power. Women are allowed in, if they can manage to suppress all biological differences from men, that's all. Needless to say, this rule immediately disqualifies anyone who is in her reproductive years, as menstruation is notorious for adding entire seconds — sometimes a whole minute — to bathroom use, a clear disqualifier from holding office.

Trump himself got caught up in the fact that Clinton pees like some kind of common slattern in the same speech where he dropped the word "schlonged." For my money, his comments on her bathroom usage were by far more offensive. "I know where she went, it's disgusting, I don't want to talk about it," Trump ranted. "No, it's too disgusting. Don't say it, it's disgusting, let's not talk, we want to be very, very straight up."

This is misogyny at its most base, using women's body functions — even the ones they share with men! — as a reason to write off the entire sex as "disgusting" and unworthy. At this rate, Republican candidates will be demanding that Clinton endure ritual purification before she's allowed to return from the restroom and stand near the men. Women are so unclean, you know. The danger of men getting cooties is nothing to laugh at.

Of course, Mike Huckabee always knows how to take a girls-have-cooties moment to the next level. "Quite frankly, I thought Hillary’s best moment the entire night was when she was in the restroom, not on the stage, and maybe should’ve stayed there and it would’ve been her, perhaps, shining moment through the whole debate," Huckabee said on XM radio.

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If you wonder why he's still in the race, this perhaps is the answer. Running for president gets you a much bigger audience for your sexist jibes than telling women to get you a sandwich on Twitter.

Though this moment suggests that misogynists are going to be changing things up soon. No longer will women be told to get back to the kitchen. "Shut up and go back to the bathroom" is clearly the hot new thing in sexist jabs. Hey, it's only been a few decades of the same tired joke. Though I am sick of the bathroom remix already.

'I Know Where She Went. It's Disgusting': Trump on Clinton

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Amanda Marcotte

Amanda Marcotte is a politics writer for Salon. Her new book, "Troll Nation: How The Right Became Trump-Worshipping Monsters Set On Rat-F*cking Liberals, America, and Truth Itself," is out now. She's on Twitter @AmandaMarcotte

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Aol_on Clinton Sexism Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Jeb Bush Mike Huckabee Rand Paul Schlong Trump Sexism

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