As Republican strategists employ impassioned op-eds and slut-shaming ads to rally voters against Donald Trump, two laypeople from Ohio are trying a different strategy: a sex strike. Early this month, 28-year-old Chandler Smith and her husband built a website to get women to pledge that they won’t “date, sleep with, or canoodle with” anyone who supports the candidate. They’re calling their nascent movement Vote Trump, Get Dumped.
The campaign’s primary problem with Trump is his abundant misogyny. “To cast a vote for Trump is to agree with his sexist, perverted, demeaning, backwards, offensive treatment of women,” the website reads. The couple has compiled a robust archive of Trump’s worst quotes about women, some of which have been slapped across beautiful scenic photographs in the style of a motivational poster. Viewers are asked to imagine a president musing, “You know, it really doesnt matter what [the media] write, as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.” Or, “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?”
There are also a series of Facebook-ready illustrations of a pair of naked legs, crossed, symbolizing political chastity. “The Greeks did it. Women during the temperance movement did it,” the website reads. “This is a tried and true method of getting men’s attention when they’re being dumb.” Of course, if Trump supporters cared about what women wanted, they wouldn’t be lifting an unapologetic chauvinist toward the presidency in the first place. As Ta-Nehisi Coates pointed out in response to Spike Lee’s take on Lysistrata, Chiraq, sex strikes do not work because of sex; they work because of the hubbub they raise. Liberian peace leader Leymah Gbowee has said of the sex strike she organized as one part of a successful political movement, “it had little or no practical effect, but it was extremely valuable in getting us media attention.” Vote Trump, Get Dumped probably won’t convince any horny dudes to vote for Ted Cruz, but it might enlighten some curious souls to Trump’s appalling attitudes toward the majority of the U.S. population.
But the whole concept of an anti-Trump sex strike raises an important question: Why in the world would anyone so turned off by Trump date anyone with the capacity to love him? For a Trump-hater to accept that a partner’s views align with Trump’s platform, she’d have to feel pretty ambivalent about a slew of issues that don’t really lend themselves to equivocation. “Do I think Muslim Americans should be kept under government surveillance? Not really, but it’s a totally reasonable policy for someone to advocate! Do I want my president to outsource Supreme Court justice nominations to the Heritage Foundation? Probably not, but it doesn’t really matter! Does the prospect of a president who gaslights the public and abuses the press frighten the bejesus out of me? Kind of, but that’s just one person’s opinion!”
Trump isn’t just any Republican candidate: He’s a nativist, authoritarian demagogue who doesn’t even attempt to camouflage his vulgar racist and misogynist worldview. Unless you share that worldview, you should have dumped your Islamophobe apologist of a significant other long before a Trump candidacy gave him an avenue to express his bigotry in the voting booth. Slate’s Dear Prudence, Mallory Ortberg, offered similar advice in a nicer way when a reader asked what she should do about her Trump-backing husband. The worried wife wrote that she found her beloved’s support for the candidate “disturbing.”
He’s never affiliated himself with either political party and his views have always been a bit of a mixed bag—he’s voted for both Republicans and Democrats in the past. While we’ve often disagreed on political issues, what I admired about him was his ability to think critically about issues and come to his own conclusions. … I just can’t get past this and can’t help to think this reveals something about my husband’s character that I didn’t know.
Ortberg confirmed the reader’s suspicions. “There are some instances where it’s not always best to be open-minded,” Prudie advised, “and this may be one of them.” She continued:
What specifically about Trump’s policies appeal to your husband? The prospect of mass deportations? Building a wall along the Mexican border? Restricting travel in the U.S. on the basis of religion? That’s more than a thorn in your side, I believe; those may be fundamental differences in how you think fellow human beings should be treated. This is not a grit-your-teeth-until-November situation; depending on how he answers [those questions], there may be fundamental differences in your marriage as well.
Mandy Stadtmiller offered a different perspective in the Cut, where she recounts some of her Trump-related disagreements with her husband.
To my husband, those who attack Trump consist of a “knee-jerk, ‘yes, and’-ing sewing circle of hypocritical snobs.” … He says if Trump is a liar, then he’s even more qualified to be POTUS.
“The more I read and hear about Trump,” my husband said, “the more I like him.” ...
“He's a misogynist,” I say. “He’s an entertainer,” Pat counters.
“The name-calling, the put-downs, the focus on appearance ...” I list Trump’s crimes against women, which are seemingly endless.
“Yeah,” Pat replies, “he says things. So what?”
Stadtmiller’s husband, who brushes off Trump’s misogyny with a very Trump-ian “so what?”, would be a prime target for the Vote Trump, Get Dumped movement: Someone who doesn’t care that much about sexism, but probably wants to get laid. Stadtmiller, for her part, has chosen to ignore the intellectual void her husband’s politics may reveal: “I endorse the independent-minded instincts that lead to my husband’s Trump support, and I definitely don’t want him to absentmindedly participate in groupthink,” she wrote. Whether it’s absentminded groupthink or indendent-minded analysis that’s given rise to Trump as a viable candidate, Vote Trump Get Dumped is unlikely to get Trump supporters to change their votes in droves. But for those of us still agog at his unabashed woman hate, it’s a fun outlet for our rage.