Showing posts with label abuse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label abuse. Show all posts

May 22, 2023

How many women supporting Trump are like Margaret Anderson from "Father Knows Best?"

 My perspective as a therapist who helped women break free from abusive husbands on women condoning Trump's abuse

By Hal Brown, MSW, Retired psychotherapist. More about me.

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In my 40 years as a psychotherapist I had many women in therapy who were married to men who were abusive. That's why these two articles piqued my interest this morning:

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The salacious and tawdry nature of what Trump did made the coverage of the recent E. Jean Carroll trial more compelling to many viewers. Let's face it, if there were reports of Trump emotionally abusing a wife or girlfriend it wouldn't have received the media attention it did, although Ivana's serious accusations made the news.

Since I worked in a community mental health center I not only counseled many women myself, but all of our clinicians also did.  Our program was in Mason, a rural suburb of Lansing, Michigan and most of our clients were blue collar with many of them working in auto factories. The area was mostly Republican. 

Rarely did we have female clients who were physically abused. By far the majority who came because of marital problems were emotionally abused by spouses who demeaned them, bullied them, had no empathy for their feelings or in the worst cases relished controlling and demeaning them. 

There is one case I can write about since our therapy was referred to in "The Burning Bed" The True Story Of An Abused Wife" which is a book about her. The book is about Francine Hughes. She became famous because she set her husband's bed on fire when he was sleeping and he died. Subsequently she was acquitted of murdering him by reason of temporary insanity. 

Although her husband did psychically abuse her, he also attempted to thwart all of the gains in self-esteem she made in therapy.  We talked about her wanting to advance her education. Then when she started at the  local community college he burned all her books. He did things to her that were much worse, but this act was symbolic and in retrospect his demise could be seen as karma.

If you search "abuse of women" on Barnes and Noble's website you come up with not merely 260 books, but 260 pages of books. If you go to the library or a bookstore you will see a large portion of the self-help section devoted to these books.

As far as I know, what hasn't been the subject of studies is how many of the women who support Trump who believe that he has physically abused women or has publicly demeaned and disrespected them would put up with the same behavior in their spouses or boyfriends. 

I think it would be enlightening to determine what percentage of these women have been or are in relationships with men who abused them, whether physically, emotionally, or both. 

We can speculate that there is a segment of society where women end up putting up with husbands who while not really at the extreme on a scale of abusiveness are still misogynistic. The 2018 NBC News article "Misogyny has become central to the Republican mission — and the GOP is dying as a result: Women are recoiling from the GOP because of Trump, but the problem is not just Trump, and it never was" says that this may hurt the GOP. 

Excerpt:

You cannot pivot from your core identity. You cannot reshape a Republican party that likes or helps women, because it would no longer be the Republican party as we know it. The GOP is right to worry about its woman problem, because no party can survive if it loses women. But the Republicans’ best hope, at this point, is that women who have been shocked into new political awareness will become more complacent once Trump has left the picture.

For the rest of us, we can only hope that those women realize their problems go deeper than one bad president — and that their collective anger continues to erode the foundations of the GOP until the whole rotten structure tumbles to the ground.

The political problem with women who will vote for Trump no matter what his behavior with was, or his attitude about women all his adult life has been, is a psychological and societal problem. It is rooted in women's beliefs about themselves and is a combination of their accepting outdated views that women should be subservient to men and low self-esteem. 

A segment of society is stuck in the 1950's when "Father Knows Best" began on radio in 1949, and then aired as a television show for six seasons and 203 episodes.


  • Parents need to know that the classic series Father Knows Best is pretty mild when it comes to iffy topics, but reflects overtly sexist and subtly racist attitudes by today's standards.
  • Everyone gets along and tries to do the right thing. Dad is recognized as the head of the household. "Good" women are characterized as being feminine and not "like men"; the Anderson children are raised according to this standard. 

 Check out the expressions on the stars faces:

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I may be reading my own bias into this but it seems to me that Jim is far happier than Margaret. She can't fairly be called "a long suffering wife" because she was depicted as being satisfied with her marriage. Today if she came to me for therapy for depression I would work on how this was related to her self-esteem and how her husband might be holding her back from pursuing endeavors to build her feeling better about herself.

Today no show would be named "Father Knows Best" unless it was a parody.

There is no way that Jim Anderson would abuse Margaret. However, he was a husband of his times and in subtle ways he treated her as his inferior and she accepted this. 

How many Republican women are living their lives as if they are in a re-boot of "Father Knows Best"  is impossible to determine.

Somewhat related:

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If you watch a Sinclair Broadcast Group owned local station you need to know just how right wing their reporting is. By Hal Brown, MSW

  "Morning Joe" covered this today with clips of local Sinclair owned station anchors reading the exact same script about the Wall...