Who’s the Boss?

Donald Trump’s latest foray into social media is either dense or designed to infuriate. This morning, an add for the Trump campaign with the slogan “Teach Hillary Who’s Boss” appeared in the Facebook news feeds of women who identify as feminists, who support Hillary Clinton, or who are otherwise identified somehow by the Trump Cheesewhiz Industrial Complex.

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The ad also ran with a merely repetitive tagline of “Help Me Defeat Hillary” and a red button rather than a green one, so maybe the social media Trumpies are testing out their color schemes and response rates:

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But in any case it wasn’t a mistake that I saw it, as it’s appeared at least 3 times on my feed today, and a search for the ad revealed other women asking each other WTF. My first guess was that the Trump camp had its search terms terribly awry. 

Sure, it might just be a reference to Trump’s online CEO/Boss persona. But the slogan itself is built on a disturbing layer of misogyny, as it’s clear that showing or teaching someone “who’s boss” is often code for bullying, intimidation, or outright violence. The graphic of Hillary mostly shrouded in darkness is a little disturbing, as she looks almost afraid rather than ghoulishly threatening.

In this way the ad seems to target Hillary but also implicitly targets her supporters or, by extension, all women. Since the Trump campaign hearkens back to a mythic time when white men ruled the world unchallenged, the slogan also evokes a domestic era in which men were allowed to enforce dominion over women in their household with impunity.

So why target this ad to the exact wrong audience? Either Trump is just throwing money into Facebook willy-nilly, or the ad is designed to get a reaction out of women, who will then share it on their own pages and react—all for the benefit of silent male spectators who will, presumably, be secretly applauding both the sentiment and the idea that it is getting so much attention.

The ad is more than just a gimmick; it’s a clear implied threat in language designed to roll back women’s rights or to goose a predominantly male voting block with the excitement of power exercised with threats of violence.

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For a more nuanced and grounded view of Hillary (and yes, that means it’s critical too), women’s issues, international stuff, and the presidential election, check out my new book, The Evolution of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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