By Bob Gaydos
Perhaps you missed it, what with the holidays and all that Ukraine and Iran stuff coming out of Washington, but two young women, Megan Rapinoe and Greta Thunberg, graced the covers of two influential magazines to close out 2019. They were named, respectively, Sports Illustrated's "Sportsperson of the Year" and Time Magazine's "Person of the Year."
The Deep State strikes again.
On the scale of events guaranteed to stir the bile in the presidential twitter pot and bring the blood pressure to boil among untold numbers of aging, white Republican men this double-barreled salute to emerging young female voices ranked just below that of impeachment of the chosen one. To him, maybe it was equal. After all, an outspoken, equality-minded lesbian soccer player and a charismatic, 16-year-old climate activist with Asperger's are not supposed to upstage the dotard-in-chief.
But they did. And the insults, yelling, lying and bullying the basic political weapons of today's Republican Party followed. Trump took to twitter to tell Thunberg to get some "anger management" assistance and "chill." Irony is not one of his strong suits. Trump's toadies on Fox News and other conservative news outlets called the Norwegian teenager "mentally ill" and part of a Democratic Party plot to make the Donald look bad or stupid or callous or insensitive or crass or self-absorbed or cruel or totally inept. Pick one. All apply.
The reactions from the Party of Trump to the magazine covers were mostly focused on Thunberg, perhaps because even Trump who had a fake Time cover naming him person of the year printed and hung at his Mar-a-Largo country club knew he couldn't sell anyone on a cover of SI with him waddling around a golf course as sportsperson of the year.
Also, Rapinoe, a leader in the push to sue for pay for U.S. women soccer players equal to that of the less-successful men's team, had already given Trump plenty of grief by saying she wouldn't come to the White House before the U.S. women's soccer team had even won the World Cup. (For the second time in a row.) Trump advised her to win before spouting off. She wasn't waiting. Afterwards, having scored the goal that won it, she struck the pose. As she told SI, "It was kind of like a 'F--- you,' but with a big smile and a s--- eating grin. You are not going to steal any of our joy."
That's the kind of in-your-face, you-don't-scare-me-old-white-man talk that the old, white Republican men, most of the younger, white Republican men and, apparently, the women in their lives find rude and unacceptable and, I'm guessing, disrespectful to their elders. Because, and again I'm guessing, they've been taught that their elders know better and, besides, young people especially female young people should be seen and not heard (and straight and not, you know, difficult.)
I find it hard to believe I just typed that last sentence, this being 2020, but it certainly seems to fit with what passes for a philosophy in the world of Trump and the Republican Party. It's almost as if a whole category of people has devolved over the past half century. More likely, failed to evolve. In fact, we do have a vice president who doesn't believe in evolution. Or having lunch alone with a female who is not his wife. Trump would have lunch alone with anyone's wife.
At first glance, this Trump/Pence odd couple pairing and the two men's seemingly opposite views towards women may seem strange. But they are really both sides of the same coin. To them, women are merely objects of sexual desire. Either they can be easily seduced by a charming or powerful or wealthy man, or the women themselves are sexual predators, ever on the prowl for a charming, powerful, wealthy man. They are not, however, to be considered as equals, contemporaries, colleagues, persons with ideas, principles, beliefs that may differ from those of the male in the room. And above all, they are not expected to express their thoughts unless they agree with those of the male in the room. (Welcome, Betsy DeVos. It helps that you're filthy rich.)
Greta Thunberg is a smart, witty, outspoken mix of ideas and courage. She uses being "different" to her advantage by not letting it hold her back. She calls it a "superpower." As for knowing her place, it was leading a worldwide school strike to save the planet. And it was speaking in front of the U.N. General Assembly a room dominated by males challenging them on the need to change the way we live if we hope to save the planet from destroying itself. A proud moment for a (non-Republican only) parent to witness.
Trump also addressed that body. He drew loud laughs (not sought). Greta famously stared Trump down at that session. She also drew applause and admiration. Whether she prompted action is yet to be seen, but no one doubted her right to be on the podium.
No one except for Trump and most Republicans who unfortunately still think that women's place their daughters' place is in the home, in the kitchen, in the bedroom, on the arm or in the service of some "important" man, but not leading movements to better the world. Also, as we've seen, not in a meeting of national political leaders discussing women's health issues. And definitely not on the coveted covers of popular national magazines.