Just after Trump was elected, I went to a meeting where concerned citizens met to discuss what might be done to rescue a country that seemed to be sinking in hate. There were already Indivisible groups forming around the country; a representative told us how to get involved. There were instructions about how and when to call your Congressman. Too few ideas, none of which seemed likely to be very effective.
At one point, a young man stood up, opening his contribution with these words: “I realize that most of the people in this room will not be affected by the bigotry that will come from Trump and his base, but. . . .” I don’t even remember what his suggested action step was. I froze at the tone-deaf opening. At least two-thirds of the people in that room were female. And this guy actually thought that Trump’s haters were not going to aim at women.
To anyone with a whisper of political sensitivity, it has been clear from the beginning that women were going to be in the cross-hairs of Trump and his most vicious followers. But their vendetta is picking up at a frightening speed.
The Washington Post has posted a story today by Steve Hendrix about the shooting at the Hot Yoga Tallahassee studio last November. Hendrix writes an extended description of the shooting and the shooter, but frames it as a hate crime committed by a man who, though women were his primary object of rage, was also part of the web of white supremacy online. Indeed, the article is titled: “HE ALWAYS HATED WOMEN. THEN HE DECIDED TO KILL THEM. Scott Paul Beierle’s attack on a Florida yoga studio was fueled by male supremacy, a movement with ties to other hate groups.” Hendrix tells the story of the yoga studio attack in excellent reportage, but he also analyzes the growing importance of hate crimes against women as a core factor in the growth in hate attacks since Trump’s election.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has now identified “male supremacy”—a term used as an analogy to “white supremacy—as part of the raging epidemic engulfing America. There is a separate page on their website dedicated to it, with profiles and quotes from the extremists who represent this wing of the hate movement. SPLC introduces the phenomenon on their website as: “Male supremacy is a hateful ideology advocating for the subjugation of women.” The SPLC argues that male supremacy is the “gateway drug” to the rest of the hate movement and that it “was fundamental to the foundation of the racist ‘alt-right.'” In other words, woman-hating is not an add-on to hate groups, but is a core organizing concept—the place these creeps find their common ground.
Nobody knows whether hate crimes against women are rising, according to Hendrix, because those charged with tracking them have (1) only recently begun counting them and (2) realize that the people reporting violent attacks are unlikely to recognize violence against women as “a hate crime.” And where would you draw the line between “hate crimes against women” and “just regular violent crime against women”? Shall we add rape and domestic violence, as well as the never-ending stream of stories about men killing women—very often in particularly weird, brutish, and sick ways—that march across the news every day? Aren’t all those crimes hate crimes? Domestic violence is also a hate crime. Consider the source of this extremist comment posted on SPLC’s website along with other astonishingly hateful examples:
“Women should be terrorized by their men; it’s the only thing that makes them behave better than chimps.”
— Matt Forney under the pseudonym Ferdinand Bardamu, “The Necessity of Domestic Violence,” In Mala Fide blog, 2012.
If you counted all the “ordinary” violence against women, the sum would be the largest category of hate crime in the country. Female hate crimes would dwarf all other types. And that would be true in every country in the world.
In the past few weeks, the sudden rush in several US states to outlaw abortion has also drawn well-warranted attention. I sense, though, in the expressions and inflections of women talking about the issue, that we all know, this time, that these men are not just after our reproductive rights. This sudden, determined, and unabashed push from right-wing legislators is certainly not about “women’s health care”—as if any of these guys ever saw abortion as “health care” and as if they gave a flip about women’s health care, anyway.
This push on reproductive rights must be recognized as a hate attack on women. Everyone needs to stand up. I know there are already thousands of women up in arms about this. I just want to add my voice. I want to appeal to any reader—even if you are pro-life—to realize the true enormity of this moment. Please, everyone, make the time and effort to support the women’s uprising against these horrible legislators. Rage against women is not just part of the vast web of hate groups, it is at the very center.