Yesterday afternoon, on Twitter, Jamil Smith flagged something notable about Donald Trump's latest attack ad:
This is the final slate on Trump’s new attack ad. He is more cult leader than candidate. pic.twitter.com/UBrMTb1qfk— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) October 11, 2016
The screen cap, one of the final frames of the ad, shows Trump, wearing his red "Make America Great Again" baseball cap and giving the thumbs up, with text along the bottom of the screen reading: "Donald Trump will protect you. He is the only one who can."
Smith observed: "Saying 'Donald Trump will protect you; he is the only one who can' will remind many women of what they've heard from their abusive partners." Indeed.
.@JamilSmith Literally every time a man has promised to protect me, in my entire life, the person from whom I needed protection was him.— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) October 11, 2016
.@JamilSmith Truly, one of the primary reasons I feel safe with my husband is that he does not view himself as my "protector."— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) October 11, 2016
This is not an exaggeration. Any man who has put himself in the role of my "protector" (which has always been unsolicited) has inevitably distorted that "protection" into the exertion of control. Because, ultimately, I had to be "protected" from myself. As much as, if not more than, anyone else.
Caring about someone, even so intimately that you would risk your own safety to preserve theirs, is not the same as viewing oneself as a fixed-state "protector." I want people in my life who care about me and my well-being; who would try to shield me from harm if I needed it. I want people in my life for whom I would do the same.
But those relationships must always be centered in the shared agreement that we are each competent governors of our own lives; that we each know what's best for ourselves; that there will be other people in our lives whom we trust, too.
"I'm the only one who protect you" is not an offer of safety. It's a threat of control.