This isn’t a president who arrived at the Resolute Desk unsoiled. Trump’s path to the post was one littered with infidelities and sexual shenanigating. For leisure, for lucre, this is a man who long crept around the world of pageants and who regularly appeared on Howard Stern to rank his daughter as a solid 10 and list all the women he’d most like to fornicate with. (Apparently he could easily have bedded Princess Di.) This is a man who has always presented as oily, as crude, and as though he’d be far better placed on a Scorsese set.
By the time Stormy Daniels came on the scene, the story was already a messy palaver that we’ve each, alas, got an unending subscription to. Of course a porn star got paid off. It makes perfect sense. Better she got paid off after all than made dead as would have happened on a Law and Order episode. Insert further characters like the sharp-tongued, bespoke-suited lawyer-cum-candidate Michael Avenatti and Playboy model/mistress/born-again Christian Karen McDougall and it was dial-a-cliché TV.
This week we’ve been subjected to leaks from Daniels’ soon-to-be released memoir, Full Disclosure. Unsurprisingly, disproportionate attention has been afforded to detailed descriptions of her moments of intimacy with the now President. The robe, the underpants. The penis, the pubes.
Not only do I absolutely not want to know anything at about Trump’s genitals, but I think the shaming of them is more than a little disturbing.
Much anti-Trump humour is premised on criticism of his skin, his hair, his age, his weight. I’m seldom a purist when it comes to either comedy or anti-Trump rhetoric except when it’s hinged on ridiculing someone’s looks.
Trump’s brashness and bravado and his zealous early morning cyber bullying has long been accented by his derisive comments about the physical appearance of, mostly, women. Calling them fat, accusing them of being pigs or, one of his favourites, dogs. Of bleeding from their wherever. How do we in all good conscience chastise his scumbaggery if we’re using the very same sewer tactics to malign him?
I don’t want us to keep talking about his appearance or to keep giggling about what his penis perhaps looks like. I don’t care if he cheats on his partners, if he’s an ‘unimpressive’ lover, if he enjoys urine play or likes a little light spanking. Good for him. These are not the reasons we should ride at dawn.
The Left hate him, and rightfully so. I spend far too much time lamenting just how masterfully he hoodwinked Americans into electing him. And it’s effortless—particularly so as evermore lurid details are revealed through insider tomes—to keep adding to our list of reasons to abhor him.
It’s essential we stop falling into this trap. Not only does keeping his name between our lips play into Trump’s ego, but he profits by keeping us focused on the tawdry trivia transpiring at the edges of his terrorism. If we’re distracted by the salacious scuttlebutt, we’re not focusing on the things that should rightfully bring about his downfall.
There’s something terribly hypocritical about the Left’s fixation on the sex stuff and on the many ways to emasculate him. Not only does doing this mean we’re not talking about Russia/separated children/neo-Nazi dog-whistles/obstructed justice, but we’re doing what the bloody Conservatives have always done and are condemning someone for the consensual stuff they’ve done with their genitals in the privacy of their own home/hotel/gilded tower. As though we’ve somehow got a right to know what’s happening under a doona and judge it accordingly.
Unless he’s broken the law I’m not interested in anything to do with his personal passion projects or the body parts he uses to partake in them.There’s a case for calling Trump out for being a hypocrite—his explicit desire to overturn Roe vs Wade and his yen to defund Planned Parenthood are ultimately about restricting the sexual freedoms of others: unquestionably it’s wretched that a self-styled pantsman is threatening women into chastity else feel the Republican wrath. But shaming Trump isn’t the way to do this. Doing so only legitimises the gutter politics we’re all slowly drowning in. Making low-hanging fruit, ad hominem attacks is the lazy censure. Proving that he’s a criminal and derelict in his duties as a public servant are where our attention needs to focus.
Trump is a heinous president so, unsurprisingly, I’m eagerly awaiting his comeuppance. Such comeuppance however, needs to come from Americans acting with both their conscience and their civic duty and voting. I don’t not want him shamed out of office based on one too many Mario Kart memes. Best he exits in handcuffs. The steel—not fluffy—kind.
Lauren Rosewarne is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Melbourne and the author of nine books on gender, sexuality, politics and pop culture. She co-hosts Radio National’s ‘Stop Everything!’ pop culture show and Mamamia’s ‘Sealed Section’ podcast and can be found at: www.laurenrosewarne.com