Melissa McEwan is a Pennsylvania-based writer
That Donald Trump is a misogynist cannot be in question: He has bragged about being a serial sexual abuser; he has, on more than one occasion, compared women with buildings; he is the executive of a party whose health-care policy is being crafted exclusively by men – and he's fine with that. These examples are, of course, just the tip of a depressingly vast iceberg of Mr. Trump's rank sexism.
Many times during his 161 days as President, Mr. Trump has brought a fresh new horrific glimpse into his bottomless well of contempt for women. Thursday was no exception.
Lately, he has been on the outs with erstwhile pals and co-hosts of MSNBC's Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. After Ms. Brzezinski mocked the President about the fake Time magazine covers hanging in his resorts, and pushed his infamous tiny hands button in the process, Mr. Trump let loose on her with a brutal pair of tweets, reading in full: "I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch any more). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!"
In just 50 words, Mr. Trump demeaned Ms. Brzezinski as stupid, mentally ill, vain and desperate – and he either flatly lied about her having had a facelift, or, in a profoundly unethical decision, disclosed a surgical procedure without her consent.
This is (at least) the second time that Mr. Trump has talked about a female journalist bleeding: In August of 2015, the then-candidate complained about debate moderator Megyn Kelly's "ridiculous questions," saying: "You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever."
Mr. Trump's latest tirade is a confluence of many of his worst qualities and impulses: His brittle ego, his impulsive cruelty, his disrespect for consent, his misogyny and his relentless war on the media – which has repeatedly manifested in targeted sexist attacks on female journalists.
Mr. Trump's disdain for female journalists who ask questions or offer commentary he doesn't like dates back at least 27 years: After a 1990 interview with Connie Chung that didn't go the way Mr. Trump might have hoped, he unleashed on Ms. Chung during a subsequent interview with Joan Rivers, calling Ms. Chung "a disaster" and saying she was "like a little child. I mean this girl – this woman – has less talent than anyone I know of."
He went on to disturbingly recount that, when Ms. Chung sent him roses after the interview, "I cut 'em up and sent 'em back. I sent her back the stems. Actually, I did. I sent her back the stems, but I kept the top."
This is, to put it mildly, wildly inappropriate behaviour in any context, but it is utterly unrecognizable as the action of a person with a professional grudge and entirely comports instead with the impulse of an abusive spurned lover.
His attacks on women who fail to conform to his expectations of deference and adoration are scathingly personal, and his Thursday morning outburst on Twitter is a perfect and terrible example of jilted Mr. Trump's rage.
Female reporters are in an unwinnable situation. If they are (perceived by the insecure President as) combative in any way, they will be attacked. If he likes them, they will be targeted in a different way. Just one day before his jeremiad against Ms. Brzezinski, Mr. Trump sexually harassed a female reporter in the Oval Office: While on the phone with newly elected Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, Mr. Trump gestured at Irish reporter Caitriona Perry and told the PM: "We have all of this beautiful Irish press. … She has a nice smile on her face so I bet she treats you well."
Whether he's creepily complimenting female journalists or demeaning them, Mr. Trump never lets women just trying to do their jobs forget that they are women.
Ms. Brzezinski stepped out of line, and so the President took to his unrivalled platform to humiliate her. He showed us, once more, what many feminist commentators urgently warned about during the campaign: A deeply chauvinist man leveraging his extraordinary power to demean women.
The White House and the first lady are defending his tweets, casting Ms. Brzezinski as a "bully" from whom Mr. Trump needed to defend himself. Even Speaker Paul Ryan couldn't muster more than a reflexive "Obviously, I don't see that as an appropriate comment," before pivoting to the Republican agenda.
Mr. Trump is abusive – and he is surrounded by people willing to abet his abuse. This means, unfortunately for all women and especially those whose jobs bring him into their direct orbit, that his vile misogyny is unlikely to cease any time soon.