The New York Times has published an article that tells a perplexing tale of Donald Trump’s private dealings with women. Trump, of course, has fired back at the newspaper and threatened a lawsuit for the negative and “inaccurate” portrayal. This isn’t a surprise. What’s shocking—and revealing—is the backlash from the women themselves. Those cited in the article have come out saying they were misquoted, misrepresented, and that they don’t have a problem with how Trump treated them.
This has left many scratching their heads as the narrative that Trump is an abusive misogynist isn’t holding up. How can you accuse a man of abusing women when the women themselves say he hasn’t mistreated them? In fact, there’s a lot of proof that Trump creates lucrative opportunities for women, a point emphasized by his own daughter.
The authors of The New York Times’ article couldn’t quite explain the nature of Trump’s relationship with women (is it abusive or not?) and came to the conclusion that this “contradictory portrait of a wealthy, well-known and provocative man . . . defies simple categorization.”
Donald Trump Uses Women for Power
But the explanation for Trump is rather straightforward if you understand what kind of “ladies’ man” he is. He is the same as another New Yorker who shares his name: Donald Draper from “Mad Men,” the quintessential self-interested user (particularly at the beginning of the show before his journey to redemption).
He doesn’t abuse women; he uses them. He isn’t concerned about love or even respect (those are incidentals to use as needed). He’s primarily interested in power. Whether Americans find this trait unacceptable in a president, I can’t say, but it’s hardly the smoking gun of unforgiveable misogyny that Trump’s opponents are looking for.
Before I continue, in all fairness to Trump we can only paint a portrait by what we perceive from the outside looking in. In this comparison, Trump is not unique—a point that will be helpful to women who read this, so they can be on the lookout for this slippery, well-polished, often charming character. Many men, employers of one variety or another, bear the same traits as “the Donalds.”
Such men have much in common: they are self-made men who describe themselves as “champions of women”; who hire—just as Draper did—women (most of whom are smart and beautiful) because of their work ethic and talent; who take pride in women’s contributions and advance them in their companies; and who admire attractive, powerful, and ambitious women and sometimes hit on them (although not always). Some men do this more aggressively than others—the subtlety of the smooth operator must not be dismissed as being any different from his more boorish brethren.
These men brag about their sexual prowess and desirability, going so far as to imagine that everyone wants to have sex with them and that they’re the best lovers ever (most of the time they’re not); live for those “fleeting, unimportant” moments and quickly abandon the women they’ve seduced; turn on women who don’t toe the line, often inflicting “lasting damage on their lives”; and can’t stay married because their sexual appetites to conquer and control beautiful, strong women must be fed—though never satisfied. They don’t hate women. They love to use them.
They Don’t Hate Women, They Trade In Women
Of course, such a trait can work well in big business where love and even personal respect isn’t the goal—productivity is; but in just about every other area of life, especially in personal relationships, this kind of man is as much a dog as any other who isn’t so skilled in building empires.
This is the simple categorization of these men; They are users. They manipulate, manage, and maneuver women for their own purposes. This is where the confusion sets in as others observe apparent contradictions in their behavior. We want to classify these men as “misogynists”—haters of women, but that fails to hold when they do so much for women. They buy them wonderful gifts, give them the “good life,” create opportunities for them, advance them professionally, and love them passionately (for the moment). In response, the women are fiercely loyal—especially the ambitious ones who have benefited from the Donalds’ “generosity.”
This is a huge value in the life of the Donalds: you must be grateful to them for all they have done for you. These men fancy themselves quite the connoisseurs of women, recognizing beauty, talent, and brains and employing them in whatever sphere will help them develop and grow. Hence, they expect gratitude.
To the woman who is self-interested and bent on feeding her own ambitions, this is a mutually beneficial arrangement—as long as feelings don’t get in the way (and the woman remains grateful). If she goes off on her own, challenges the user, defies him in any way, or is deemed as no longer “useful,” she will pay the price.
This Is How Trump Treated Alicia Machado
The more powerful the user, the more damage he can inflict. This, however, is relative. The user doesn’t need Trump’s wealth and power to inflict damage. The degree that a woman is dependent on or connected to the user is the degree to which he can damage her. And he will—if she defies him. That damage can be loss of a job, reputation, or simply her own sense of self-worth. Sometimes the “punishment” simply involves degrading the woman so she loses credibility. In other words, he neutralizes her.
This was the experience of Alicia Machado who won the 1996 Miss Universe title. After she gained weight, she said Trump publicly shamed her. When she confronted him about it, he was unapologetic. The damage he inflicted on her, she said, lasted for years.
The women who become entangled in the user’s web have three choices to make: First, they can use him back, benefiting from the mutual exchange of material advantages as best they can. We see this with ambitious women all the time—they work with the user, managing him as much as he manages her, and keeping in balance his ambitions with her own. If you talk to such women, they will insist he is the “greatest ever.”
To be fair, some of these women aren’t necessarily driven by heartless ambition. They’re practical and know exactly the kind of man they’re dealing with. They see him as a sensible, even brilliant, employer who wants the best out of his employees. They oblige. They’re wise enough to know that if they don’t, they could be hurt, so they choose to make the best out of the relationship.
Second, if they can’t stomach the truth of who he is (i.e., a man who doesn’t really care about them personally but is only concerned about what he can get out of them), they can simply slip away, remaining silent, keeping a healthy distance from him. When you ask these women about the user, they will say only good things, but most of the time you don’t hear anything from them at all.
Finally, there are women he has angered by his unwanted advances, his cruel use of them (particularly regarding sex), and his abandonment when they are no longer “useful.” They retaliate, fight him, and expose him. Women who choose to do this will need to be very powerful to defeat him—because it will take an all-out war. Most women don’t have the power or the stamina to make such a stand. As a result, the woman who opposes him will either fall back to being silent, comply and be useful again, learn how to play the shrewd game of self-interested survival, or live her life damaged by his cruelty, licking her wounds in the shadows.
To Stomach Themselves, Users Lie
This is the dark underbelly of the Donalds’ treatment of women. These men are, in essence, narcissists who can’t bear the truth of who they really are. They create fantasies about themselves to survive, because if they ever saw their real reflection in the mirror they would be undone.
So they tell themselves they are the champions of women, white knights coming to their defense and empowering the ladies they’ve brought into their fold. They imagine they are superheroes saving the helpless and employing the needy. They are usually the first to defend a woman who is in the “sphere of their confidence.”
But it is a lie. They use women. They use men, too, but woman are a particular interest to them because they are fascinated by them, their sexuality, and their unique contributions to whatever project the user is trying to build. They need women like a hungry man needs food, and it’s just as utilitarian. If you notice, such men are rarely alone, and if they are, they feel unsettled. They need women to sustain them, and they use them accordingly. The Draper man is distracted by women because he is a little obsessed with them. He collects them like things, and often sees them as sexual creatures.
There are layers to his treatment of women, of course. It’s not always sexual or even overtly inappropriate, but that core is there, and its dark essence oozes out at times in the comments he makes and the expectations he has for women in his sphere of influence.
This Is Worst Inside Marriage
This is particularly sad in marriage—a point made clear when Ivana described her marriage to Trump as declining to the point that she felt “violated, as the love and tenderness, which he normally exhibited toward me, was absent.” Trump has denied that he ever “violated” Ivana, which is probably true as far as the physical facts go—a point Ivana has made recently. But when the man you’re married to is distant and cold, being with him physically does feel like a violation. Any woman who has been in a loveless marriage knows exactly what I’m talking about.
When in love with a user, there is only pain in the end, unless the woman has figured out how to make the arrangement beneficial to her in an emotionally detached way. This is the kind of marriage these men want anyway—for a woman to be there for him when he comes home and serve his needs without complaint. If she demands too much, she becomes a drain.
Of course, he won’t look at it that way. He tells himself he’s the great provider of his home and that she should be grateful. He has worked hard all day, doing whatever he does with whomever he wills (even if that means sleeping with other women). He comes home, prepares an amazing dish of pasta, opens an expensive bottle of wine, enjoys a delightful evening with his wife, makes love to her until her toes curl, and then closes his eyes to a day well spent. He’s satisfied because his needs are met, and he tells himself he has met her needs too.
Little does he care that treating a woman well involves more than such materialistic and shallow exchanges. He is self-interested to the core. It’s not about human connection for him; it’s about using others to advance whatever goal he has. For Trump, it’s building a business and now governing a country. For others, it might be something else.
What A Real Man Looks Like Instead
So, you see, the mystery that is Trump isn’t really a mystery at all—if, indeed, he truly fits these characteristics. He might be more loving, more connective, more loyal, and less self-interested than he appears. He is a public figure, after all, and we only see a tiny portion of the man’s real life. However, I’ve lived long enough to know how this kind of man operates and what motivates him.
Such users—the pretenders—know nothing of what it means to be a real man, to be a true white knight. While they might be able to boast of material successes, they fall far short of other men who sacrifice, love, and truly respect women.
Real white knights remain faithful to their wives and don’t eye beautiful, powerful women for their own personal gain. Real white knights sacrifice even their own ambitions to care for their families. Real white knights aren’t self-interested; they’re humble, selfless, and truly gallant.
Real white knights don’t inject themselves into situations that don’t involve them—they let other men take the lead instead of shining the light of glory on themselves. Real white knights don’t seduce women with lies of love or threaten women by wielding professional power over them. Finally, real white knights don’t demand gratitude—they are the ones who are grateful!
Women Deserve Better than a Donald
Women don’t need men who hit on us, who measure us by the relationship of our brains to our beauty. We don’t need bosses who demand gratefulness even as they seduce us and use us to advance their own goals and swell their already-bloated egos. And we certainly don’t need lovers who live for fleeting moments of which we are never truly a part.
Self-respecting women, as imperfect as we are, want men who honor us as human beings, who value our spirits as well as our minds and our bodies. We want men who are faithful, trustworthy, and truly gracious. We want men who will fall on the sword for us, not use us as tools in their own personal battles and conquests.
We want men who show us dignity because they have dignity of their own. These are the real men, the real champions of women. They might not have crowns of gold on their heads. They might not boast of great material successes. But they are men of great worth—the kind that earn the true and lasting loyalty of a woman. The gratitude she shows such a man is given to him out of love, not fear—and it lasts forever.