More than 130,000 people have died as a result of the Trump administration’s inadequate response to the coronavirus pandemic. Unemployment rates are surging with little assistance in sight. People are angry and have taken to the streets as endless police violence against Black people continues. For these reasons and then some, Trump is trailing former VP Joe Biden in the polls — and he has responded by firing campaign manager Brad Parscale on Wednesday night.
For some reason, though, it’s Hope Hicks, a counselor to the president and former White House Communications Director, who is taking a great deal of the heat for this latest reelection staff shakeup. Hicks became the misogynistic social media punchline of Parscale’s firing after Rick Wilson, the founder of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, quote-tweeted an apparent joke that Hicks and Parscale were “spotted canoodling at Comet Pizza,” the D.C. pizza joint at the center of the bizarre 2016 Pizzagate fiasco. The discredited far-right conspiracy theory alleged that high-ranking Democratic officials ran a sex trafficking ring out of the restaurant.
Hicks started trending on Twitter following the comments, as thousands of people began to joke that the president fired Parscale because he was jealous of their rumored sexual relationship. Some tweets were even less nuanced, and just overtly sexist. “It seems that Hope Hicks has been passed around the Oval Office more than the CDC COVID guidelines,” one person wrote. “Seems the only thing that can get you fired in Trumplandia is dating Hope Hicks. She should use her powers for good, go out one time with Bill Barr then Stephen Miller,” another commented.
For the record, Parscale has been in Trump’s hot seat for some time now. The president reportedly lashed out at his former campaign manager for being the bearer of bad news after seeing polling data that his campaign was lagging behind Biden’s in several states. Parscale later bragged on Twitter about 800,000 people requesting tickets to Trump’s Tulsa, OK, rally last month, only to embarrassingly learn that a large number of those tickets were claimed by TikTokers who had no intention of attending the event.
Still, people turned to Hicks, calling her derogatory names for her alleged involvement with Parscale, who is married, while many demanded she help take down other staffers in the same way. Despite the person behind the initial rumor saying it was a joke, people continued to hurl misogynistic attacks at Hicks.
While Twitter is busy slut-shaming Hicks, her boss has a well-reported history of alleged sexual abuse. At least 25 women have come forward with accusations of sexual misconduct against the president since the 1970s, including groping, assault, and rape. But jokes that arguably the most powerful man in the world would fire a staffer out of jealousy make light of Trump’s alleged transgressions by using his misogynistic and violent behavior against women as a punchline.
It’s easy for people to make the assertion that Trump would be “jealous” of Parscale precisely because he has boasted about how he loves “beautiful women” and can’t help himself when he’s around them. “You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet,” he said in a 2005 recording obtained by The Washington Post before the 2016 presidential.
There were some who joked that Hicks should initiate sexual relationships with more male staffers — including Trump’s senior advisor Stephen Miller and U.S. Attorney General William Barr — and “take one for the team,” so to speak. At the heart of many of these comments are Hicks’ alleged romantic entanglements with former Trump White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
But Hicks’ sexual past or present should have no role in the conversation about the circumstances of Trump firing Parscale. Making Hicks the center of a man’s firing — thus shifting the blame onto a woman — is a product of our collective misogyny. Besides, there are plenty of other things to criticize her about — like the very fact that she’s complicit with Trump and his various evils. Hicks can only be accountable for her own role in enabling Trump and his violent administration. He’s responsible for the rest.
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