What Trump interrupting Clinton says about our culture at large
During the final presidential debate last week, Hillary Clinton demonstrated yet again how difficult it is for a woman — or any marginalized group, for that matter — to have a conversation with an ignorant, white, cisgender man without being interrupted.
Donald Trump managed to interrupt Clinton a total of 37 times, according to Vox. Compare this to Clinton, who interrupted Trump nine times. Most of the interruptions Trump made were to oppose Clinton or to try and correct her, but there were a few comments that stood out above the rest.
Among the usual “wrong,” which he often repeats at least twice, and “I never said that,” Trump also employed classic verbal-assault strategies typically used by a neighborhood bully.
This debate, he decided to taunt Clinton: “You have bad judgement,” he said. “You do.” He then went on to say Bernie Sanders has also accused Clinton of poor judgement, an insult he recycled from previous debates.
These are all examples of what’s being called “Trumpsplaining.” It’s a form of mansplaining that also emcompasses other strategies used by Trump during the last three debates, including but not limited to verbal assaults, nonsensical explanations and a general avoidance of answering questions. Trumpsplaining most frequently occurs when he interrupts people.
Trump’s habitual interrupting and bullying reflects what we already knew to be true about gender and interruption. A 2014 study concluded that women are interrupted more frequently in conversation than men are. Not only that, but men also tend to interrupt people in general more than women do.
There are many factors behind these findings. For one, women are traditionally considered submissive to men, so they are the perfect targets. But it’s not just about gender roles. It’s the fact that, in society, the dominant person is white, straight and male. Dominance ultimately means power, and power means being able to oppress other groups of people. This force is what causes people to subconsciously interrupt and silence others.
Boston University lecturer Susan Lee told the Boston Globe that perceived status and sense of entitlement are why men interrupt women more often. Women are not the only group who are perceived as non-dominant to straight, white men. One dominant group in society means that many other groups are unaccounted for, though other groups may experience similar workplace interruptions.
And like Clinton, other non-dominant individuals must put up with incessant interruptions; for some people, their careers and sometimes even their safety are on the line.
In Trump’s case, it’s not just that he constantly interrupts Clinton — it’s what he actually says. In the most recent debate, he interrupted Clinton by calling her “such a nasty woman” on live, national television. This is just another example of Trump’s misogyny. Despite multiple allegations of sexual assault against him and the release of a tape exposing Trump’s sexual assault rhetoric, he remains steady in the race for the presidency.
Trump continually uses his very powerful platform as a presidential candidate to spew hateful rhetoric about all groups of people, and this is precisely what makes him horrendous.
Trump has more power, visibility and exposure than the average working man, yet his blatant disregard for others, degradation, name-calling and acts of oppression go mostly dismissed. He may get backlash, but what good is that if he’s still considered a presidential candidate?
What type of message is that sending to people who harbor these same hateful prejudices? And when a presidential candidate has been allowed to progress this far, in spite of all he’s said and done, we have to wonder how much social progress we’ve actually made as a country.
At this point in the race, everything Trump does and says only reaffirms what many people already know: that he is unfit to be president.
Written by: Jeanette Yue — firstname.lastname@example.org
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