While watching the election results come in on Tuesday night, I couldn’t avoid a sinking feeling. It went beyond disappointment to genuine fear for what the next years will hold. Not only is America not getting its first female president—but the president-elect is someone who instead is an active enemy to women, despite his braggadocious and laughable claim “nobody has more respect for women than I do.”
Clearly not every woman feels this way: According the exit polls, 42 percent of women nationwide cast their ballots for Donald Trump, the man who made no true apology for bragging about sexual assault. As Caitlin Phillips wrote in Paste, “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.”
That weighs on my heart as I begin to come out of my post-election reclusion and look around. Is that who the majority of the people in this country really are? Mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters and friends who believe that kind of sexism has a place in the highest office of this country?
Although the moral (or immoral) statement of Trump’s election is devastating, the sad truth is that things may very well get worse for women when real power is granted to him in January.
Under the Affordable Care Act, all FDA-approved birth control methods are covered for women without a copay. That coverage is among the benefits that Trump vowed to terminate by asking Congress to repeal Obamacare “on day one of the Trump administration.” Before then, women should seriously consider getting a long-term IUD that could (thankfully) last longer than Trump’s presidency.
Trump’s proposed plan for maternity leave is to cover six weeks after the birth or adoption of a baby with unemployment benefits provided by the states. So, although he said it would be “paid” leave for moms, the average woman would likely only make a fraction of her standard salary before rushing back to work when the infant is little more than one month old. (And that’s not to mention that Trump’s plan didn’t extend to fathers, including those in gay couples.)
Even though Trump’s term is only four years, the repercussions of it will be felt for years to come due to his role in nominating a justice for the Supreme Court. What’s more, three of the current justices are 78 or older. If Trump has the power to nominate even one or two more justices during his presidency, the Supreme Court will be decidedly unbalanced with the kind of “pro-life justices” Trump swore to exclusively nominate during the final debate. As Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, told Bloomberg today, “Our country now stands perilously close to a return to the dark days when women were forced to put their own lives at risk to get safe and legal abortion care.”
Despite conceding that Planned Parenthood has helped “millions and millions of women,” Trump said he plans to defund it as long as the organization offers abortion services. That means STD screenings, cancer screenings, well-woman check-ups and more vital services may no longer get federal funding. Thankfully, Planned Parenthood says they aren’t going anywhere, no matter the state of their federal funding.
What can we expect when the president uses terms such as fat, pig, disgusting animal and slob to describe women? That impressionable men (of whom there are many) will believe that is tolerable. As Jill Filipovic wrote in The Washington Post, “Anecdotally, it seemed that sexist abuse was worse online and off during this election—I saw it for myself on social media and heard story after story of female friends being grabbed or called misogynist slurs for wearing pro-Clinton T-shirts or simply being at election-related events, often in tandem with a declaration from the grabber that Trump would win. These attacks large and small may very well ramp up now that Trump has normalized it and voters have supported him.”
While Trump, Vice-President Elect Mike Pence and their cohorts threaten to dismantle and obstruct the more important of women’s service, there is at least one reason to take heart after this election: With 21 due to be in office come January, there will soon be more female United States senators than ever before. Although that is still far from representative of the whole population, us women are used to being down—now let’s just make sure the Trump administration knows we aren’t out.