What exactly is Trump intending when he uses the word “nasty,” and why does he direct it most often toward women, especially women who have some measure of power and status in their profession or life’s work?
There was a time in America when “nasty” meant something disgusting in point of smell, taste, or even moral character and “not considered a proper word to be used in the presence of ladies.” [M. Schele De Vere, “Americanisms,” 1872] Historically, the word has always held the connotations of something that is foul, filthy, dirty, unclean, malicious, spiteful, bad, indecent, obscene, offensive, troublesome, and annoying.
It can be said fairly that calling someone “nasty” is not simply showing irritation — it is meant to vilify whoever is being described.
Okay — but why does Trump, a billionaire with a wife at his beck and call and by his own admission able to receive the attentions of any woman he wants, need to try to demean, denigrate, and malign the female species in particular?
One answer to this is easy, for it is a very old reason that still carries considerable weight in our culture. Women are seen as less important by virtue of gender alone. This is not a new concept. When someone is viewed as less important, the unfortunate but typical response is to either dismiss them or to bully them. Such tactics are used by many men toward women, though happily not by all. But what Trump does is magnify the sanctioning of seeing women as less important. It is definitely not hidden away or covered up by pretense — he is more than willing to use “nasty” to cover a whole array of traits in females, who he sees in general as being less worthy than men.
However, women are used to that behavior and outlook and have learned how to move, exponentially, away from accepting the opinion of the Trumps in the world, and increasingly refuse to be defined by the old rhetoric and cultural tropes.
It is the second reason Trump needs to use the word “nasty” that is more telling. It is a reason borne out of a deep-seated need that is not within his control. Women threaten his manhood, not physically, but at every other level. He is blind-sided constantly by women who dare to challenge him. He is bewildered by the fact they even want to challenge him, that his “natural” superiority is not instantly and completely acknowledged by all the women he encounters.
Trump needs women to worship him. When they don’t, they are “nasty.” They are foul, malicious, offensive, and reviled impediments to his sense of well-being and contentment.
The word “nasty” has existed since the 14th century. It has never been used lightly. It has always been used to hurt.
Which brings us to the final point herein. Trump feels hurt when women do not kowtow to him, do not praise him, do not see him as the true and total man of their dreams. It is the hurt of an adolescent, that piercing pain of not being wanted by the girl of his choice. And Trump lives inside this.
Calling women “nasty” gives him relief from that piercing pain. And since the word has such negative meanings, he knows he can return the pain — send it outward, and it doesn’t matter much who the target is, as long as it is a female. He lets out the bully.
For Trump, encountering a female with a sense of personal self-worth and the will and ability to experience official levels of power in the world is unbearable. He needs to put women in what he sees as their place. He needs it like breathing.
Fortunately, no matter what he says to them, women who feel self-worth are not going to buy into his wishful thinking and his version of the ideal world.
Women like Kamala Harris.