High Heels & Small Bathing Suits*


* Donald Trump in 1997 when he bought the Miss USA pageant: “They said, ‘How are you going to change the pageant?’ I said ‘I’m going to get the bathing suits to be smaller and the heels to be higher’.” 

The United States was a country 144 years before women could vote for president; the 19th Amendment was ratified just months before the 1920 election. Those who fought against women’s suffrage made their case by demeaning women as mentally and physically unfit. A 1912 New York Times editorial warned that if women were granted the vote, they would next make “preposterous” demands to serve as “soldiers and sailors, police patrolmen or firemen … they would serve on juries and elect themselves if they could to executive offices and judgeships.”

Fast forward 100 years, and we see the race tightening for Tuesday’s presidential election. That means many Americans have somehow gotten comfortable with quotes like these from Republican candidate Donald Trump:

Regarding beautiful women: “I just start kissing them. … 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.”

Regarding a young actress: “She’s probably deeply troubled and therefore great in bed. How come the deeply troubled women, you know, deeply, deeply troubled, they’re always the best in bed? … It’s just unbelievable. You don’t want to be with them for long term, but for the short term there’s nothing like it.”

The first quote can be translated this way: I don’t ask a woman whether or not she wants me to touch her intimately. I do what I want to women. That is a privilege of men who are powerful.

And the second quote this way: I like sex with deeply troubled women because their self-esteem is so low and their vulnerability so high. Women in this state have almost no personal boundaries and are more likely to let me do anything I want to them, no matter how degrading, and then I move on.

rather-kiss-herI know there are Americans who don’t think this behavior is OK but have somehow managed to get comfortable enough with it to vote for Mr. Trump, and to them I say, please don’t.

If you are a man or a woman, please don’t devalue all women and girls by choosing a leader who sets this example. The quotes above are two of dozens, as Mr. Trump has called women pigs, dogs, losers and bimbos, while he has defined them by their body parts and joked about whether he wanted to have sex with them. Perhaps you think Mr. Trump has enough else to offer that you can live with this “minor” issue. But it’s not minor; misogyny, sexism and gender inequality remain strong in the United States, and Mr. Trump’s behavior shows he is clearly a leader in making that OK.

The bottom line is this: Any American who casts a vote for Donald Trump is putting something else above respect for women and girls. Please don’t. Smaller bathing suits and higher heels just sounds like a slutty version of barefoot and pregnant.


  1. Hello again, Deborah, thanks for using your words so powerfully to address the horrifying example our men and boys now have sitting in the most powerful seat in the country. Your statement, “I know there are Americans who don’t think this behavior is OK but have somehow managed to get comfortable enough with it to vote for Mr. Trump, and to them I say, please don’t,” really gets to me because I think we were all saying that, and yet “good Christians” still voted this man into office. I am heartened by your words and by the sheer volume of women, men, and children who turned out to march last weekend. If only more had been willing to say “this is not okay,” rather than normalizing this language and behavior by endorsing it with their votes.


  2. Thank you again for your wonderful insights. I have wondered throughout this election cycle how woman could have voted for Trump but then I had to realize that for many women his behavior is their “normal”. If they have never known men to behave any differently then they do not see anything wrong and in fact may want a man to act in such as way as a show of desire.
    I know many women who have encountered such behavior in the corporate world and while they may find it distasteful they easily chalk it up to “men behaving as men”. Unless women themselves work to change the norm of what is acceptable and speak out against this behavior it will never change.


  3. Yeah, on this one I’m with Lisa. What was going on with women? I just don’t get it??! But I think Lisa offers a valuable clue when she says “…women are still thinking like men..” I remember a critique of radical feminism that baffled me at the time but makes much more sense now. The speaker said that radical feminists were pushing for more power for women and were, in the process, visioning women in business suits who talked tough and played rough. The critic said that was merely “taking on the persona of the enemy,” and that women should express their unique way of being in the world, not try to prove they could dress/act/talk like men.

    As the election returns came in and state after state went red, a colleague of mine said, “I’ve lost trust in the people.” But the more I think about it, the more I think about the comment of a Trump supporter: “I didn’t like him at first. He was a pompous, arrogant ass. But he promised middle aged white guys would have a voice in the country again. I want that. As it is, I don’t think the country has much use for middle-aged white guys.”

    So as I’m trying hard to understand what happen, I have to take that into account. Our brave new world has to include everyone. I don’t want to demonize anyone.

    But I’m going to have to work at that one. As Deborah noted, we now have a president-elect who feels he can do anything he wants to any woman he wants – especially the most troubled ones. Hard not to demonize that guy.


  4. Deborah
    As usual great post. Its so sad that 53% of women voted for Trump. This is unbelievable and I can’t understand why except to think that women are still thinking like men, that women are not capable leaders. The events of this last week speak volumes about our country and the growth and development necessary to take us to where we thought we already were: a nation of faithful Christians. Clearly, Trump’s election has demonstrated that we have a long way to go.


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