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Rebecca Traister On Trump, Patriarchy, And Men's Fear Of Women's Rage

"He's saying the quiet part out loud," she said. "There we go, I think President Trump has really summed it up.
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Chris Hayes had Rebecca Traister on last night to talk about her new book, "Good And Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger."

"I love the book, it is phenomenal. I felt lucky to have read it before that hearing on Thursday, which was just an object lesson in everything you write about in the book," Hayes said.

"Well, it's funny you say that, I'm glad that you say that, and it's also, I, of course, could never in a million years have predicted this to be the week before this book got published. I couldn't have predicted this is where we were going to be a month ago as far as the actual material reality of the Kavanaugh hearings," Traister said.

"One of the things I wanted to do with this book, I wanted it to be a tool. Because I think that there's so much that we don't -- that happens unconsciously in terms of how we hear women's anger, how we -- how women modulate their own anger, how they temper it, how they change how they speak or express themselves in order to fall into a narrow window of acceptability. I thought especially with so much mass anger happening, the anger of protesters, the anger of candidates, the anger of teacher strikers, McDonald's workers who went on strike last week in response to sexual harassment, I think that there's so much that we need to really think about the political consequence of women's anger in a way that we're not trained to.

"And one of the reasons, one of the things i sought to do with this book was to sort of outline what some of these systems and ways of hearing and ways of expressing and ways of dismissing women's anger are so to help us make better sense of the world. And so I would hope that that's part of what it did. And changing the way, perhaps, that you heard the hearings last week," she said.

"Well, and partly because it was such an amazing counterpoint between the way that she was talking to the committee, and, you know, trying to be helpful and accommodating and sort of a quivering voice and his rage, his rage on display," Hayes said.


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"I feel like, you know, there's two halves here, the way that women's anger is suppressed by society as the book talks about, the way it can be marshalled collectively for political action. and the way that male rage, in which we are getting a full display of -- the rage of the powerful whose power is being challenged or questioned, in part, by, you know, descent, stems from an angry movement, like #MeToo, that lays the groundwork for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford to be able to come forward with this story to begin with, to how that was the openly admitted source of the rage. I mean --

"How dare you?"

"Orrin Hatch says in two instances over the past few weeks, first when it was just the protesters about abortion and health care, when there was women in the hearing in the original hearing room and Orrin Hatch said 'we shouldn't have to put up with this.' He used that exact same language this week with regard to the accusers of Brett Kavanaugh. Powerful men saying we shouldn't have to put up with this. We shouldn't have to, you know, listen to, absorb and in any way have our power diminished, impeded by the angry -- of these people that have less power than we do," Traister said.

Hayes said he wanted to play what the president said today. "The other half of this, too, is that there's a kind of backlash to the backlash of sort of threatened or challenged male power. This is what the president had to say this morning about it being a scary time for men."

While I say it's a very scary time for young men in America when you can be guilty of something that you may not be guilty of. This is a very, very -- this is a very difficult time. What's happening here has much more to do than even the appointment of the Supreme Court Justice. It really does. You could be somebody that was perfect your entire life and somebody could accuse you of something, doesn't necessarily have to be a woman, as everybody said, but somebody could accuse you of something, and you're automatically guilty. but in this realm you are truly guilty until proven innocent. That's one of the very, very bad things that's taking place right now.

"He's saying the quiet part out loud," she said. "There we go, I think President Trump has really summed it up.

"I think that the idea that women might find furious voices that would challenge powerful men and the systems that have oppressed or subjugated them is very scary for powerful men. He said it. That's what he's saying."

"What's interesting to me, too-- they think of powerful men as a subcategory of men when there's a certain way the patriarchy gives all men an amount of power. They think that's a politically winning argument. That's not just the way he feels, which it is, it's a political lay winning argument more broadly," Hayes said.

"How you view, for example, the 2016 election, there is a very valid argument that it is a politically winning argument. This 'make America great again' is a version of what he just said, right, the callbacks to the good ole days, if you watched, you know, the clips of him talking about protesters being taken out and beaten, the idea that any kind of angry protest could be quashed with actual violence and, you know --

"And now we can't do that anymore."

"It's a very scary time for men, we're not allowed to do just what we want to do and quash the complainants and have them go away and proceed with our power, this is very scary for us, this is the message and it is being sent beyond the realms of the most powerful, and being sent to men and white Americans."

"And women," Hayes said.

"The 53% of white women who voted for Donald Trump and who are very much at stake in some of this push/pull, which side are you going to be on? This is -- Donald Trump's political career is rooted in birtherism, which is in itself, we have to delegitimize the president who came and took away a piece of power that was previously reserved for white men. This is the roots of this, and his compelling narrative for the nation. And it's, you know, right now it's sort of circling on gender. He says it's not just women. No, it's not just women," she said

"It's anyone who hasn't previously had a claim on the kinds of political economic public power that powerful white men have within a white capitalist patriarchy."

"All those worthless schlubs who didn't get $400 million from dad," Hayes agreed.

More discussion with Rebecca Traister on Chris Hayes' podcast Why Is This Happening here.

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