Donald Trump grabs women by the vagina. He rates us on how we look. This is our only value. He puts us down by calling us pigs, or dogs. He defends himself against accusations of sexual assault by saying the claimant isn’t attractive enough for him to target.
And people voted for him.
Donald Trump called Hillary a nasty woman. He raged against Megyn Kelly. he called Rosie O’Donnell a “fat pig.” He said that women should be punished for undergoing abortions. Although he later retracted this statement, this is clearly his brand of pro-life politics.
And still people voted for him.
I have never agreed with the premise that women should vote for Clinton simply because they have the same XX chromosomes. But the fact the Donald Trump won the presidency says a lot about the status of women in the US.
Trump supporters didn’t seriously consider his attitude towards women, weighing it up against other policies that were so strong, so crucial that they had to vote for him in spite of his sexism. Rather, his sexism was dismissed out of hand. It was branded as “locker room banter” and swept away with a flick of the wrist. Women wore pink “Women for Trump” T-shirts. His behavior and sexual aggression towards women was unimportant. Or worse, the women were to blame. Trump, after all, was just doing what men do.
What message does his election send to women? We are still fighting for the right to be unmolested in every aspect of our everyday lives. We still have arseholes telling us to smile as we walk down the street, ordering us to flirt with them, lest we be called a dyke bitch. How many of us have giggled nervously, or frozen when a man of some stature has made unwanted advances, and we haven’t known how to exit the situation without bruising their ego, and potentially being punished for it? Male colleagues and bosses still dismiss our opinions, label us bossy, or pay more attention to our looks than the content of our characters. Other women do too.
But now the President of the United States is on record as believing a woman’s body is not her own. Not in policy, such as the right to abortion, nor in custom, such as the right to not be kissed by an orange reality TV “star.”
Hillary losing isn’t a blow to women in itself. Of course, it would have been historic if she had won, but she was a flawed candidate and any other Republican candidate would have been viewed by the commentariat as a serious contender from the beginning of the race for the White House. Women have held leadership positions in Australia and the UK, in Ireland and New Zealand. I don’t believe the US intrinsically views female leadership with more suspicion than these other Anglophone countries do.
Donald Trump’s election is devastating, because it says that a majority of Americans view his abusive attitude towards women as normal, as inconsequential, as nothing to be considered a defining—much less damning—character flaw.
What message does this send to our daughters? To ourselves?
Trump has a peculiar relationship with his own daughter, Ivanka, constantly commenting on her looks as if that were the only thing she has to offer.
What message does this send to other men? That the Commander in Chief approves of sexual assault? That he finds it funny? That it’s what “real men” do?
Think of the number of women in America who have been abused at some point in their lives. The statistic is one in three. Think of the incidence of sexual assault on college campuses. Think of the number of unreported rapes.
When the President of the United States, the (arguable) leader of the Free World, says it’s okay to lay his hands on a woman he has never spoken to, that it’s okay to force his tongue into her mouth because he just has to kiss her, it’s unlikely those numbers will decrease.