Why Trump’s Tweets About Mika Brzezinski Are a ‘Threat’ to All Women

Mika Brzezinski was the subject of a Trump tweet attack on Thursday. (Photo: Getty Images)

President Trump was at it again on Thursday morning, turning to Twitter to lash out against those whom he feels have been critical of him in some way.

Today, the subject of his ire was Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski.

Even for Trump, the tweets seemed extreme, as they somehow managed to combine his intense obsession with women’s appearances, his sense of entitlement over women’s bodies, and his repeated expressions of disgust with women’s bodily fluids.

Some Republicans quickly took to Twitter to respond:

And in a press conference, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said he didn’t see the president’s tweet “as an appropriate comment.”

But others say that’s the least of the problem.

Melanie Brewster, an assistant professor of psychology and the co-founder of the Sexuality, Women, and Gender Project at Columbia University in New York, tells Yahoo Beauty that she sees Trump’s comment as much more damaging. “I think it was a threat,” she says.

“I would never diagnose someone without meeting them, but [Trump] seems like every stereotypical example of exerting power and control over women,” she continues. “Here’s someone [i.e., Brzezinski] who wanted to meet with him to ask questions, and he’s sending a warning about women: If you want to ask me anything or get in my presence, you will be subject to ridicule and shaming, and that is fair game because you are a woman. Even though he says he doesn’t like Joe Scarborough [either], he didn’t attack him in this way.”

She adds, “This is a clear message for any other woman who wants to meet with him: If you ruffle feathers in any way, he will hit back with any low blow he can dream of, and he will tweet about it to millions.”

Brewster also explains that Trump’s comment supports the fundamental, patriarchal sexism inherent in our society.

“In our society, women are told to do everything in their power to be youthful, and the second it goes wrong, they’re subject to extreme ridicule, being told they are ridiculous and vain and should be ashamed of themselves for caring so much about their appearances,” she explains. “He’s highlighted the bind all women are in — we’re told to look one way, and when we fail or show any sign that we’ve done the thing we’re expected to do, it’s disgraceful.”

And much like many of Trump’s past comments about women — their bodies, specifically — Trump’s remark about Brzezinski, Brewster says, is a clear attempt to shame and exert control over a body that’s not in his control. And in this way, it’s not at all dissimilar to the infamous Access Hollywood comments from 2005. 

Furthermore, Brewster adds, the tweet about Brzezinski is made worse because it claims knowledge of something that Brzezinski herself has not publicly disclosed. “It says he can make decisions at a high level regardless of if he has the information that something actually happened or something did not,” she says regarding Trump’s assertion. Further, Brewster explains, it plays into “heterosexual patriarchal culture — Joe will now feel very inclined to defend her, which is exactly what Trump would want. It sends a message to men, ‘You better control your women or I will shame them and also make you look weak.’”

Indeed, Brewster says, Trump’s comments about women are a “microcosm of how women are treated and valued in American society” — that is, when unable to be sexually objectified by men, women are somehow seen as “less credible.” Trump, she adds, “has a megaphone for what many men, and women, believe about success: that you have to look a certain way to be successful, and if you don’t, then there’s something wrong with you. It’s what a lot of people think, but it’s really bad that our president can say that and isn’t working to change things.”

Meanwhile, Melania Trump — who has said that her platform as first lady would be to address the issue of cyberbullying — said on Thursday through her communications director that “when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder.”

Interestingly, CNN’s Brian Stelter has shared on Twitter a photo from the time of the Brzezinski-Scarborough trip to Mar-a-Lago in question, and it appears to tell a different story than the president’s.

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