Donald Trump must have had some trouble sleeping last night. And like many of us who find ourselves lying awake in the pre-dawn darkness, he apparently picked up his phone.
Early this morning, Sept. 30, around 5 am, the Republican presidential candidate went on a Twitter rant against Hillary Clinton and former Miss Universe Alicia Machado.
Machado is a former Miss Universe and Miss Venezuela who his rival, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, brought up in the first presidential debate, Sept. 26, and featured in a campaign ad. Clinton and Machado say that as head of the Miss Universe Pageant, Trump insulted Machado. After she gained some weight following her crowning as Miss Universe, he allegedly called her “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping.”
Trump’s tweets are troubling for a few reasons.
Trump began by labeling Machado “my worst Miss U” and “a con.” He also questioned Machado’s morals, calling her “disgusting,” and referencing a “sex tape.”
Rumors that the beauty queen had starred in a pornographic films, first of all, do not appear to be true. Machado was part of a risqué encounter while a contestant on a Spanish reality TV show, and she posed topless in Playboy magazine.
And bringing up the rumor of a sex tape is reckless and dangerous. Such tapes—real and fictional—are often an instrument of revenge porn, used to shame and target women, and they have pushed women to extreme and sometimes tragic responses.
But beyond that, it’s particularly crass and disgraceful that he thinks it’s fine to call a woman ”disgusting” because of her sexual conduct or her involvement in adult films. It’s not. It’s also not fine to call a woman disgusting because she’s breastfeeding, or because she’s a political adversary—though that hasn’t stopped Trump doing so, time and again.
On Instagram, Machado replied to Trump with a post in Spanish, featuring a photo of herself draped in an American flag. She described his criticism of her as part of a pattern of denigrating women:
“Through his hate campaign, the Republican candidate insists on discrediting and demoralizing a woman, which is definitely one of the most terrifying features,” she writes, as translated by Esquire. “With this, he seeks to distract attention from his real problems and his inability to pretend to be the leader of this great country.”
She pledged to ”keep standing, sharing my story, my absolute support for Mrs. Clinton on behalf of women, my sisters, aunts, grandmothers, cousins, friends and female community.”