The US presidential election is still three weeks away, but nobody doubts that Hillary Clinton will thrash Donald Trump. Opinion polls put Hillary ahead by 5 to 11%, which is huge. Many US elections are won on margins of less than 2%.
Trump has been sunk by the leak of a 2005 video showing his prowess in what he calls “locker-room talk”. He says, “You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful women…I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
That must be the most memorable quote in US campaign history. Earlier, some opinion polls put Trump ahead, but after the video went viral, his poll numbers crashed.
Does this represent a fitting popular verdict on a vulgar male chauvinist pig? No, top US poll analyst Nate Silver has come up with a sensational finding: there is a huge gender divide after Trump’s video. If males alone could vote, Trump would beat Hillary by a humungous 11%! He would win all the key battleground states that swing elections — Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Colorado. He would win 350 Electoral College votes to her 180.
However, if women alone could vote, Hillary would thrash Trump by a whopping 33% margin. She would beat him in Republican strongholds, including Texas, ending up with 450 Electoral College votes to Trump’s 80.
So, Trump’s downfall is entirely due to scandalised female voters. Male voters are astonishingly empathetic. Internet reactions to his video confirm that he has strong male support, even envy…
“I laughed because that’s how almost every guy acts! Ladies I’m sorry but that’s just an average guy at the end of the day talking some shop.”
“An 11 years old video… how cute… what’s gonna be next? something he said in showers after P.E. when he was 14?”
“I hope I’m cool enough to talk like this at 59.”
“If not for unnatural laws, men would grab a girl by her pussy as it was some centuries ago, and it’s natural.”
“Oh please. This is how guys talk about women when women aren’t around. It doesn’t make us all rapists.”
Trump is right in thinking that political and showbiz stars get away with a lot. Bill Clinton and John Kennedy are obvious examples. Filmstar Arnold Schwarzenegger was accused of groping by several women when he ran for governor of California, earning the nickname Gropen-Fuhrer. Yet he won two successive elections with big margins. But for the fact that foreign-born politicians cannot run for president, he would have been a strong Republican candidate.
The Republican Party is supposed to be the party of family values, of the Bible Belt. Clearly even men professing strong family values and faith in the Bible are secretly with Trump in viewing women as sex objects. In open voting, I doubt if a majority of men would raise their hands in favour of Trump. But in a secret ballot, they would support him overwhelmingly.
Things are probably worse in India. Here we have female infanticide, dowry burnings, routine wife beating, and the treatment of women as commodities and the property of males. The rich and powerful believe they are above the law and can misbehave with impunity in a hundred ways, not just groping. The public widely believes actor Salman Khan killed a man with rash driving, and shot protected black bucks for entertainment, even though he eventually managed to get acquitted. Did the charges dent Salman’s popularity or box-office stature? Not at all. Shiney Ahuja, a character actor, was convicted of rape. Did that ruin his career? Absolutely not.
So, the appalling truth is that Trump is right in saying that stars can get away with almost anything, certainly with groping. The casting couch is a standard institution in Bollywood and Hollywood, viewed more as a form of frolic rather than an outrage.
In sum, beneath a thin veneer of political correctness and gender equality, most males across the world remain chauvinist pigs, and powerful males believe they have the right to grope. Women could not vote till the 20th century in most democracies. Their inclusion in electoral rolls has helped civilise society and democracy in ways that are not evident. They are saving the US from President Trump.