The Privilege of the ‘Ladies Who Lunch’

First, a couple of bits of anecdotal evidence.

On the Anthony Cumia podcast, Ann Coulter says that several women whom she’s met socially—presumably privileged urbanites—are voting for Biden because they find Trump “icky.”

A pro-Trump friend of mine receives a post-debate e-mail from his sister, a rich Stanford Business School graduate, who asks: “I truly hope you are still not thinking of voting for this imbecile. If you are, I honestly can’t imagine why. If you can explain it to me, I’m listening.” 

Yes, just two bits of evidence. But as any Trump supporter knows, Coulter’s female interlocutors are legion. As is my friend’s sister. In fact they’re part of a huge cohort of high-income but low-information ideologues who tend to live in enclaves of coastal or urban or college-town privilege in which pretty much everyone they know—or, at least, every one of their female friends—hates Trump. 

Because he’s “icky.” And an “imbecile.”

Note that these appraisals make no reference to policy positions or past achievements. There’s no mention of NATO, ISIS, the VA, job numbers, criminal-justice reform, peace in the Middle East and Balkans, or any of the rest of it. 

Because these are women who are well enough off, and removed enough from concerns about the military or terrorism, that their lives, at least as far as they can see, are unaffected by such matters.  

(Coulter reported that she asked one of those anti-Trump women: “What about the riots?” The reply: “What riots?”)

Visceral Responses

No, these women—call them the ladies who lunch—know nothing. Nothing about politics, anyway. Their reactions to Trump are entirely aesthetic. Even when they react to him with explosions of irrational rage—as is often the case—that rage has nothing whatsoever to do with his presidential record. Indeed, the more visibly crazed they are by him, the more likely it is that they’re voicing a response that’s totally visceral. 

One thing you can be sure of about these women is that they think of themselves as smart. Very smart. Incredibly smart. The ease with which they dismiss as an idiot this man who has succeeded spectacularly in multiple fields—and, against all odds, incidentally, become the leader of the free world—is a reflection of their absolute confidence in their own superior intelligence. They definitely consider themselves smarter than Trump’s supporters, upon whom, with Hillary Clinton, they look down as “deplorables.”

And yet despite their high view of their own intellectual gifts, they’re prepared to cast a presidential vote based entirely on a visceral response to a superficial trait. On personality.  

When they’re not calling Trump dumb, and thereby proclaiming their own wisdom, they’re couching their responses to Trump in moral terms, the implication being that they themselves as pillars of virtue. But virtue has nothing to do with it either. 

No, none of this is about intelligence or virtue. It’s about snobbery in regard to the shallowest of personal attributes—a profound and powerful snobbery of the kind that, as we’ve all seen, can trigger years’ worth of rage in the kind of woman who believes that her country’s head of state is, in the most superficial of ways, her inferior.  

Election Day 2016

For virtually all of these women, needless to say, Trump-hatred has its roots in the trauma of Election Day 2016, when they fully expected America’s first black president to be succeeded by its first woman president. Doubtless they were unaware that Obama had, in fact, been a horrible president, but that didn’t matter either. Their love of Obama was all about melanin, just as their enthusiasm for Hillary was all about genitalia. In short, purely superficial considerations. 

Going beyond the sheer shock of November 8, 2016, you could probe further into the specific psychological origins of these women’s condescending attitudes toward Trump. Some of them are originally from modest backgrounds, and, like the first-generation Denver nobs who are undone by the brash, exuberant vulgarity of the newly rich Molly Brown in “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” they recoil at the sight of Trump precisely because he reminds them of their humble origins. 

Or else they’re lesbians who hate Trump for the same reason that they hate any Alpha male. Of course, it’s not just lesbians who recoil from the sight of an Alpha male. These days such repulsion is bred into all women of a certain stamp.  

(And it’s not just women, either, who shrink from Trump’s Alpha-maleness. Among those who are uncomfortable with it are suburban Beta males—the Betas who brunch?—whose delicate childhood upbringings and pricey college brainwashing have taught them to view a man like Trump as nothing more or less than an ever-flowing fountain of unsettling microaggressions.)

Then there are the many women who come from ethnic and regional backgrounds which make Trump seem to them frighteningly alien. Do you remember the famous split-screen dinner scene in “Annie Hall”? On the left, a tranquil, decorous meal at the Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, home of Annie’s WASP family, who are making low-key conversation about swap meets and boat basins; on the right, a flashback memory to a typically raucous supper at Alvy’s (Woody Allen) childhood home, where the adults are yelling at each other about nonsense. 

To the family on the left, Donald Trump’s personality would doubtless seem utterly gauche, outrageous, repulsive. Who would ever hire such a man? Or let him marry their daughter? (Never mind that he’s a business genius and a billionaire.) Meanwhile, such a family would view Biden as, yes, perhaps a bit dim and daffy and past his prime, but otherwise a thoroughly recognizable and essentially presentable type, like some beloved uncle who’s started to lose it. And presentability is, of course, what counts in such milieus.  

And Alvy’s family? They’d just consider Trump a regular guy and Biden a sad spectacle. (Note that two out of three Latinos who watched the debate on Telemundo reportedly felt that Trump had won. No surprise, given the higher Latino level of comfort with red-blooded males.)

Voters from Authoritarian Countries

You can be pretty sure of one thing about these ladies who consider Trump’s Alpha status a liability: they’re not immigrants from China or Russia or Vietnam or Cuba. People who have come to America from authoritarian countries know what the world is, and they know that the United States needs a strong leader to go head to head with the likes of Xi and Putin. 

A strong leader, mind you—not a tyrant. Americans who have lived under tyrants know that Trump isn’t one. This too distinguishes them from the ladies who lunch, who love nothing more than to call Trump a dictator. They seem not to grasp that if he really were a dictator, they’d be lunching in a gulag. 

To be sure, these ladies are fully entitled to their condescending attitudes. They’re entitled to wear their snobbery like a badge of honor. But they have no right whatsoever to anyone’s respect. Because they happen to enjoy a degree of social and economic privilege, they think that they know something when they know nothing. Because of their privilege, they think they occupy the high moral ground when in fact there’s no moral dimension whatsoever to their attitude toward Trump. Because of their privilege, they think they’re entitled to demand from pro-Trump friends and relatives an explanation for their errant views. 

My above-mentioned friend who received that email from his Trump-hating sister was genuinely upset by it. That speaks well of him. He has feelings that are capable of being hurt. I know him well enough to be able to say that he, for his part, would never be so arrogant as to address his sister in the imperious way she addressed him. This is not how Trump supporters, by and large, think or behave. 

Still, every Trump supporter who has to deal with this kind of nonsense from loved ones should keep the following in mind: every time that one of us who supports Trump is called on the carpet for it by some arrogant soon-to-be-ex-friend or soon-to-be-estranged relative, we’re being reminded of one of the things we’re at war with in this election. 

We’re at war, namely, with the Left’s utter intolerance of dissent. A big part of the reason why it’s so important to defeat Biden and the Democrats is that they’re the party of cancel culture, of crushing dissent, of reining in free speech. 

They’re the party whose allies in Silicon Valley have banned conservatives from social media, whose allies in the academy have canceled appearances by conservative speakers, and whose allies in the fourth estate have turned America’s leading news media into propaganda outlets on a par with the Soviet-era Pravda

Biden’s Achievements

Just as the ladies who lunch know little or nothing of Trump’s actual accomplishments, they almost certainly couldn’t tell you what Biden has achieved during his half-century in politics or what he’s promised to do if elected president. 

But they’ll tell you that old lunch-bucket Joe is (usually) mild-mannered. In the absence of any other positive attribute, this one has been depicted by his supporters as a well-nigh saintly virtue and contrasted with Trump’s bumptiousness. Clueless but self-impressed Biden supporters take his mildness as an indication that he’s steady and sober, “presidential,” a man prepared to return America to “normalcy.” 

Of course, his mildness is a sign that he’s barely there. He’s wallpaper. He’s a faded career politician from central casting—and for voters who make voting decisions on aesthetic grounds, that makes him the electoral equivalent of comfort food. 

But look past the aesthetic and study the substance and it’s like opening the door to Dorian Gray’s attic. Because that mild-mannered exterior is a front for nothing less than evil—the evil of AOC and Bernie’s Communism, of Antifa and BLM’s Soros-funded violence. 

The evil of the Obama/Hillary coup attempt and of the Clinton and Biden family corruption. Of open borders and sanctuary cities. Of mass exportation of factory jobs and general passivity in the face of growing Chinese hegemony. Of government takeover of the health sector. Of drift toward a U.S. economy that looks more and more like feudalism. Of a Cultural Revolution-style obsession with alleged identity-group victimhood and a widespread institutionalization of a pernicious ideology of race that is guaranteed to destroy America’s social fabric.

When challenged by smug, superior “ladies who lunch” demanding that you explain your support for Trump, go on the offensive about all of this. Tell them to grow up. They’re not picking a date for a cotillion. They’re picking a president for a country that’s in danger of being dragged to hell by the enemies of freedom.   

About Bruce Bawer

Bruce Bawer is the author of While Europe Slept, Surrender, and The Victims' Revolution. His novel The Alhambra was published in 2017.

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

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33 responses to “The Privilege of the ‘Ladies Who Lunch’”

  1. They’ll be the ladies who lunch on dog food when America becomes more like Venezuela after 2 years of President Biden and 6 years of President Harris.

  2. As always, Mr. Bawer à brilliant and perceptive exposé full of wit and irony. Also it fits in with a recent experience involving a friend who had invited me to tea in her tour d Ivoire door man , protected building in her upper east side neighborhood. The Steinway had been recently tuned and the Miro on the wall was protected from the invading sunlight by a pair of window drapes. The tea service, Limoges for the occasion, steamed with the best Earl Grey and I knew that les petits fours came from some baker that looked like it had stepped out of an Offenbach opérette. My friend whose grand parents like my own had fled a Russian tzar’s pogroms, suddenly said with with the straightest of faces, Trump is Hitler.”I almost spilled my Earl Grey on to the Aubuisson and launched into a counter point of view but to no avail. “Trump is Hitler. “The beautiful parrot intoned. “Suppose we have a drop of Port.”

  3. Excellent article. Unfortunately, I know far too many of these women. One, a longtime Bernie supporter and PHD who repeatedly claims “the masks are working” without any data to support her finding, never ceases to amaze me. A friend for 40 years, but I still remember the days she claimed she was a libertarian, which just reinforces the notion that way back when she didn’t have a clue about her position, just what sounded good at the time.

    I know far too many of these ladies and they are all uninformed. They vote the way they have just because they have always voted that way.

    Let’s hope the blacks make up for the privileged ladies of lunch in November. We cannot lose our country because of these arrogant women.

  4. Rich, aged, well married, icky imbecile! I’ll take it.

  5. Remarkable article. I have four sisters who are exactly like this, I’ve even used some of the same phrases as in the article itself. The last conversation we had, which was a couple of months ago, was a video chat among all of us that I closed out of when one of them, while attempting to justify the rioting in Portland, starting comparing me to a rapist because of the George Floyd matter. Seriously. Last time I spoke with any of them, it’s just not worth it.

    None of them has an ounce of knowledge about what’s going on in the real world, but they’re convinced that they are intellectually and morally superior beings because the all inhale each other’s exhale and never have to deal with a contrary opinion.

    They’ll all vote a straight-line donkey party ticket. And be convinced that doing so is a moral act of noblesse oblige.

  6. None of these vacuous people voted for President Trump the first time around. They will make no difference this time.

  7. Being a fool myself, I understand perfectly the thinking of the “ladies who lunch.” Fortunately, I had to work for a living and learned eventually, that my foolishness came with a ruinous personal price. So I wised up, if only a little.

    Unfortunately, the price for foolishness is woe and ruin, but the “ladies who lunch” pass that price onto others not so privileged.

    Yes, that is correct. The living form of white privilege is the “ladies who lunch.”

  8. The Democratic Party has always been the party of affluent whites.

  9. If I didn’t know better I’d swear I was Bawer’s “friend” and the sister being referenced was MY sister…

  10. “As is my friend’s sister. In fact they’re part of a huge cohort of high-income but low-information ideologues who tend to live in enclaves of coastal or urban or college-town privilege in which pretty much everyone they know—or, at least, every one of their female friends—hates Trump. ”

    I know them all. :(

  11. How is it that you came to meet my mother and my oldest sister? You’ve described them to a T.

  12. Preach, Bruce! This only reinforces the need to repeal the 19th amendment

  13. One thing people need to prepare themselves for, is when the ladies who lunch back an AOC and her chavistas, you need to be prepared to kill this once relative or friend in a civil war. Ignorance is no excuse for stealing personal freedom and liberty, and tyranny cannot be tolerated.

  14. Old Laurel and Hardy had a good stab at sending up the type of person who recoils at the intrusion of a wayward or maverick person or member of the family into his or her life. In the 1935 feature-length film ‘Our Relations’, Ollie chokes and spits out the tea he’s drinking from a China cup at the moment Stan tells him he’s going to go upstairs to tell their wives about the letter they got from ‘mother’ who in it decries the shameful misfortunes of Stan and Ollie’s ‘bad lad’ twin brothers who had gone to sea. Ollie takes Stan aside to tell him that if they were both to tell their wives about their ‘low-life’ sailor brothers, they would lose their ‘prestige’ in the community, and they would be ‘ostracised’. They decide then to quickly burn the letter (in their not so straightforward fashion) in the dining area of Ollie’s home.
    Nowadays the bad lads are the ones in MAGA hats. And the ladies and their husbands who lunch look upon any intrusions by these MAGA types into their lives as if they were old Stan and Ollie dismissing their fleet-employed twin brothers, Bert and Alf. They must wash their hands of them!

    In ‘Our Relations’, however, poor old Bert and Alf had been unaware of the tall tales being told about them from land. And they had never mutinied or been hanged for it!

  15. Don’t forget that a vote for Biden is not just a vote for mediocrity and corruption, it is also a vote for decades of sexual predation.

  16. Three principles explain feminism in its entirety:
    1) Life must be nothing but uninterrupted bliss, and the government must step in to make it so.
    2) The truth is whatever I believe it to be.
    3) I have the right not to be offended (but note that such right is not universally held), and therefore to take offense at anything and have the offender silenced.

    Shut up, man.

  17. THIS article is what I’ve been feeling but unable to put into words. Bruce nailed it. Thank you!

  18. The hubris, the arrogance of these ‘ladies/gentlemen who lunch’ is astounding ! I have several in my life.

    When I mention the soft gloved pedophilia of Biden, they profess ignorance; when I mention the Ukrainian connections to Biden’s family/finances, they seem oblivious; when I ask about Biden’s declining mental capacities…ie…his dementia , they get defensive .

    Critical thinking, informed opinion, multi-sourced data seem to be cast aside in favor of ‘feelings’.
    God help us all ~~~

  19. BINGO! My wife’s sister to a tea; DJT is sooooo stupid …. an MD early 70’s and gets all her news from the today show and E tonight …. maybe some lester holt thrown in for good measure … says when the wife visits that Fox News doesn’t work on her TV … sad …

  20. Include George Will Bill Kristol, and Pierre Disgusting…they fit hand and glove

  21. “The Ladies Who Lunch” WOW! What a perfect depiction of all who limit their media to the lies and distortion of the likes of CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NYT, Washington Post etc.

  22. I read this somewhere yesterday. “A vote is not a valentine, you aren’t confessing your love for the candidate. It’s a chess move for the world you want to live in”.

  23. Geez oh man; I don’t know what to say except brilliant, sir. Thank you for essaying what I have long suspected is the psychology behind the obdurate, effeminate denial of what can only be objectively characterized as a near miraculous set of 1st term accomplishments by President Trump: in a word, superciliousness. God bless you and God bless America

  24. big fan of Bruce Bawer….his While Europe Slept is brilliant..and great read…my copy is dog eared…and I have bought several copies for family…

  25. Bruce Bawer, Really enjoyed this article. And I hope you’re right about the ladies who lunch. But I don’t think you entirely are. So what do I think is going on with them ?
    I think what’s going on is that, in different ways, Trump threatens a social order by which, in one way or another, the ladies who lunch gain income and status. I think the ladies who lunch more sense that than consciously know it. But I think it’s the real reason they’re threatened by Trump.

  26. Nailed it, except for one point. The very privileged ladies-who-lunch that I know in this mid-Atlantic college town never tire of patting themselves on the back for devotedly reading the NYT and the New Yorker and listening to NPR. To a person, they believe these vehicles qualify them as the most informed and sophisticated of political thinkers. Living in an echo chamber where they all sing from the same sheet of music, they are just clueless about the what’s really happening. Anything they hear that doesn’t conform to the dogma of the left-wing media is met with a blank stare or derision.

  27. It’s really amazing how Donald Trump was the darling and the envy of New York society until he actually got into politics. Joy Behar, David Letterman and others–all of them fawning over Trump on the talk shows. For decades he was questioned about whether he would run for mayor of NY. But then he had the nerve to actually run for President and win against Hilary; the feminist queen whose victory was so sure, bought and paid for in blood and sand, basement emails, and fake FISA warrants. (What is it about democrats and the fixation with basements?!?) How soon they forget what’s really going on the world. How easily they misjudge the majority of us. Stay in your basements on November 3. America will be just fine.

  28. « Of course, Trump is Hitler, » my significantly older friend, a widow, remarked, setting her teacup down. The « of course » was a bird call to mark out territory twixt « them » and « us », the refined, the knowledgeable against the crude. It came like a hand sweeping up chessmen of the same color, placed in battle on one side of the board. It was definitely an « us against them » trope.

    In front of us, on the table was a pattern of petits fours purchased from a bakery that could have been the décor in an Offenbach operetta. The newly tuned Steinway shone its licorice sheen in a playful light peeping out from curtains drawn to shade the Miro. We were tucked away in her upper east side doorman building, protected from the brutal covid-addled world by a staff whom my friend opening the conversation, praised for their loyalty. « Imagine trekking in from Queens, everyday… » Never did vulgar lucre and the need to feed a family enter into the well-coiffed, well-educated head which shook with infantile anger during a certain night in November 2016. Despite all my attempts, a feeling of inner rage took hold of me and something from another bourgeois revolutionary entered my mind, something about a useful idiot selling a rope. All argument was a loss; I had tried that before, declining in vivid terms the horrible restrictions of socialism which I weighed against our free society, but to no avail and I was reminded of how certain Holocaust deniers even when brought to the monument of Auschwitz, persist in saying that it never existed, because their Uncle Barney told them so. Then suddenly, my more evil angels got the better of me as I imagined a contingency of young « resisters » charge up to her floor, and take over her apartment as they brandished an order from a judge to evacuate since her habitation had become the people’s property. I timidly described that scene and tried to end it humorously by remarking that with a bit of luck, she might get to see the Miro in some museum if whoever was guarding her would let her out. How would she feel about that ? « Let them, » she remarked with the generosity of a person of great age, whose revolutionary fervors had been strictly parlor conversations. « And suppose they destroy the Miro, and the Steinway and all the authors in your library on the grounds of race or displeasing sentences ? » I asked. Of course the implication was that she had helped in their destruction, which had not entered into her line of thought, rang clearly. « Let’s not talk about it anymore. You and I are different. » I was happy for the respect she showed me, it sort of went with the tea.