It was perhaps inevitable that Trump’s use of a vulgar Yiddish word for penis would lead to the rise of schlong revisionism. Esteemed liberal and centrist journalists like Frank Rich, Jeff Greenfield and Joshua Micah Marshall are now arguing that “getting schlonged” is a regional New York (or Long Island) synonym for “screwed” and hence not necessarily a targeted sexual insult aimed at Hillary Clinton.
There are many problems with schlong revisionism. Firstly, whatever the local dialect of Long Island might be, the word schlong has a clear genital reference, evident in any dictionary definition.
Context matters. Tellingly, the earlier occasion Trump used schlong was in reference to a female politician. Trump has a history of using derogatory words to belittle women and refer to their allegedly icky biology (see Trump’s comments on Megyn Kelly, Rosie O’Donnell, and Carly Fiorina). In the “schlonged” speech Trump also refered to Hillary Clinton’s “disgusting” bathroom break. Given Trump’s history of using sexism as rhetorical tactic, it’s hard to see Trump’s use of “schlonged” as innocent.
Finally, the word “schlonged” carries with it all sorts of implicit ideas about gender and sexual relations. It assumes that sex is something that men do to women, a form of conquest in which the woman is beaten. Sex, by this view, is not a mutual activity that people do together: is is something done, not something shared. This latest brouhaha can’t be seen in isolation. It’s part of a schlong history of misogyny.