Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the Presidential Debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., on Sept. 26, 2016.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the Presidential Debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., on Sept. 26, 2016. Win McNamee—Getty Images

Break Up With That Trump Supporter

Sep 27, 2016
Ideas
Jill Filipovic is a lawyer and writer

Dating a Trump supporter this election season? There has never been a better reason to return yourself to single status.

If Google searches and media coverage is any indication, Trump is straining a lot of relationships. Married couples in which he’s for Trump and she’s not tell the New York Times Style section they’re considering divorce. “IT HAPPENED TO ME: Donald Trump Ruined My Relationship” blares a headline on xojane.com. A woman wrote to Slate’s Dear Prudence to say she can’t get past her husband’s Trump support, worried it “reveals something about my husband’s character that I didn’t know.” A woman who documents nearly every aspect of her marriage for New York Magazine writes that Trump is tearing it apart.

Read more: Don't Break Up With That Trump Supporter

It may be a little extreme to divorce over a presidential candidate, assuming everything else in the marriage is good (although Trump fandom suggests that lots of things about your husband aren’t very good). But ending a dating relationship, where there presumably aren’t joint finances or shared property or kids? Girl, do it, and don’t look back.

I say “Girl” because the majority of Trump supporters are men. And while married white women often back Republicans, that’s changing in this election—Trump is doing far worse with white female voters than any Republican in the last quarter-century. The people voting for Trump are largely white men—a subgroup of white men who are entitled, angry, racist and sexist.

I can hear the pushback: “My boyfriend isn’t racist or sexist! He’s dating me, a woman!” Bad news: Dating or marrying a woman isn’t a get-out-of-sexism-free card. The most brutally misogynist men often date, marry and claim to love women. Most of the same men who opposed women’s rights to vote, who wrote laws insuring that it was legal to rape your wife and who barred women from colleges and universities were married to women. Most women who are murdered are killed by men with whom they are currently or formerly romantically involved—men who often claim to love them.

Most men, of course, are not abusive, but many are soft misogynists: the kind who like and even love women, but when you scratch the surface, don’t quite see women as 100 percent equal. Maybe they view women are more ornamental than substantive or more inherently maternal than ambitious; maybe they subconsciously hold women to higher standards than men or expect that their wives or girlfriends to do the emotional work of the relationship and don’t think to reciprocate; maybe they think girl stuff is kinda dumb and women are more emotional than men and they just can’t stand it when their female boss is such a bitch.

One good way to know if your boyfriend or husband is a soft misogynist (or a more blatant one): He’s voting for Donald Trump.

Trump has well-documented issues with women. He treats the women in his romantic life as a kind of rotating set of dolls, marrying a younger model each time and charging them with doing all of the childcare, then going on talk radio to discuss them like they’re attractive objects he’s collecting. There are virtually no women, other than his own daughter, who he seems to believe are capable enough to take on leadership roles, from sitting on the Supreme Court to advising him on economics or foreign policy. His list of misogynist, dehumanizing comments about women is long. His supporters routinely call Hillary Clinton a "bitch" and a "cunt," when they aren’t yelling that someone should “kill the bitch;” Trump looks the other way, or even froths up the vitriol. This is on top of the fact that Trump has dehumanized Mexicans and Muslims, mocked the disabled and attacked the family of a fallen soldier.

This is not just a political disagreement, as if one of you supports free trade agreements because you think they bolster the economy and the other believes they’ve wreaked havoc on the American working class. It’s not a difference of political opinion, where you both want to see low-income Americans thrive, but you disagree on how to get there. This is about fundamental values: How should we treat other human beings? Is blatant, aggressive racism acceptable? Are women human?

This election is not a game. Some young male Trump supporters seem attracted to the candidate’s clownish behavior, to the fact that he’s a kind of anti-establishment performer who says whatever he wants. Is that who you want to date—a guy asinine and immature enough to think reality TV hijinks belong in the White House? A guy who doesn’t care about the chaos and destruction Trump promises to sow—splitting apart families, deporting people based on their religion—because he’s entertained by someone whose stream-of-conscious sputterings reflect a bizarre ideal of not giving a damn? Politics shape peoples’ lives; don’t you want a president who does give a damn, and a boyfriend who’s adult enough to realize that holding public office is about service to one’s country, not serving oneself?

A vote for Trump is an affirmation of racism, sexism, and bigotry. Even if you personally swear up and down you are not racist, sexist or bigoted, you can’t support putting someone hateful in the highest national office and claim your own innocence—it doesn’t work like that. If you support a racist, sexist bigot, you are supporting a racist, sexist bigot—and that reflects back on you, and suggests you too might be a racist, sexist bigot. If you’re dating someone who supports a racist, sexist bigot, you are either actually dating a racist, sexist bigot, or you’re dating someone who pledges his allegiance racist, sexist bigots. It’s a distinction without a meaningful difference.

Among the women who have written about their Trump-supporting partners, there are big red flags—it seems you scratch the surface of a supposedly not-sexist Trump fan and suddenly sexism seeps out. The xojane writer’s boyfriend was reasonable and respectful to her face, but when he was surrounded by his Trump-bro friends started making racist jokes, called Clinton “an entitled c*nt who only represents a bunch of ugly feminazis,” and said women shouldn’t have the right to vote. The New York Magazine writer ran down the litany of misogynist things Trump has said, and her husband replied, “Yeah, he says things. So what?”

If your partner’s response to bigotry is “So what,” that tells you everything you need to know about their character. If you’re a woman, this isn’t some ephemeral idea or hazy theory—it’s about you, and your very humanity. Your partner hears that someone hates women—a category to which you belong—and this person thinks you’re less capable than men and even less than human, and his response is to validate that person’s aspirations to one of the most powerful positions in the world, and shrug off your concerns as “so what.”

So what? Don’t be with someone who thinks it’s ok for people to hate you is what. Don’t be with someone who is willing to support those who would blithely disrespect you. Don’t be with someone who, in his “so what,” renders your existence a political talking point or a funny punch line or some desirable ability to say what he thinks without consequences. There is not value in everyone saying aloud everything that runs through one’s mind, especially when it comes to ugly, uncharitable, prejudiced thoughts; what Trump’s fans are applauding isn’t just that he says the previously taboo, but that he thinks it and seeks to normalize it. They agree with what Trump thinks. And what he thinks is that you don’t matter. Why is that enviable and authentic anti-PC truth-telling instead of the more obvious “Wow, this guy is an authentically sexist jerk”?

When you cast your ballot in November, you aren’t voting for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. You’re voting for a scared pregnant teenager in Arkansas who doesn’t know how she’s going to make this work. You’re voting for the son of undocumented immigrant parents in California who fears his family will be torn apart. You’re voting for a Muslim family in Oklahoma who thought they knew their neighbors and now aren’t so sure. You’re voting for the single mom in Wisconsin who’s just trying to hold it all together. When you’re voting in November, you’re answering the question: How do these people deserve to be treated in the United States of America?

When your boyfriend or husband supports Trump, he’s answering that question too. Which should lead you to another one: Why is this the man you choose?


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