‘It’s frustrating’: Women in Mo. bristle at Trump’s words on domestic violence, sexual abuse

When women living in the Kansas City suburbs discuss President Trump’s comments on issues such as domestic violence and sexual abuse, they keep using the same word: frustrating.

A 65-year-old Republican grandmother who hesitantly voted for Trump said she understands the president’s impulse to protect a loyal staffer accused of abusing his two ex-wives, but she’s frustrated it took him so many days to publicly condemn domestic violence.

A 47-year-old bookkeeper who had never voted for a Republican until she voted for Trump is frustrated that he doesn’t think before he tweets or speaks — and she worries that she’s setting the wrong example for her children by supporting a president accused of groping women without their consent.

And a 29-year-old recruiter who considers herself a Republican-leaning independent said she respects that voters selected Trump and has tried to give him credit at every opportunity, but she’s frustrated by his male-centric approach to nearly everything.

“It’s frustrating knowing that the person that’s leading our country doesn’t necessarily prioritize or have respect for women the way that I think that the president should,” said Audrey Smithe, the recruiter, as she worked at the Hammerhand Coffee shop in this suburban city’s historic downtown on a recent afternoon. “It’s frustrating.”

Although Missouri has become a reliably red state, Democrats are hopeful that the frustration felt by many women here — especially moderates living in the suburbs of Kansas City and St. Louis — will influence the way they vote in the midterm elections this fall, especially with Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) facing a tough reelection contest in a state that Trump won by more than 18 percentage points.

Trump isn’t the only Republican man frustrating Missouri women. Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) has admitted to having an extramarital affair and a St. Louis prosecutor is investigating allegations that Greitens threatened the woman not to tell anyone about their relationship or he would distribute a nude photo of her.

Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Senate candidate who is considered the front-runner in the GOP primary in August, recently blamed the problem of sex trafficking on the sexual revolution of the 1960s and ’70s. Courtland Sykes, another Republican Senate candidate and a former congressional aide, has called feminists “she devils” and accused them of changing gender norms “to suit their own nasty, snake-filled heads” — while saying that he expects his fiance to have dinner on the table when he gets home at 6 p.m. each day.

“For years and years and years and years, the American people have been complaining about regular old politicians who say stuff to be nice and say stuff because they know it will make you feel good and this and that,” said Johnson, who is the president of Kansas City Young Republicans. “And then you get what you’ve been saying for all of this time that you wanted, and it’s a little rougher and more abrasive than you thought it was going to be.”

She then puts it another way.

“Do you got a boyfriend?” Johnson asked a reporter during a recent interview. “Do you like everything that comes out of his mouth? But you’re with him, right? Even though he gets on your damn nerves? . . . Nobody’s going to be perfect, and he has not been, but I think he has done a good job. So I still stand by my boyfriend.”

(Excerpted from Washington Post 2/20/18)