Trump's contempt for women is astonishing. Decades of progress are now at stakeby Diane Roberts / November 11, 2016 / Leave a comment
Published in December 2016 issue of Prospect Magazine
It was supposed to be a historic moment in American politics: the first woman elected to the presidency. Women took their daughters to visit the New York grave of 19th-century suffragist Susan B Anthony in anticipation of Hillary Clinton’s victory, placing their “I Voted” stickers on her headstone. The glass ceiling was surely about to shatter. The United States, a republic founded on slavery, had progressed so far that the people twice put a black man in the White House. Now we would choose a woman, and the long arc of the moral universe would bend still further towards justice.
Of course, it didn’t happen. Clinton lost; Donald Trump won. The pundits will spend months, perhaps years, working out how and why. Was it the relentless misogyny brought out by the long campaign, the absurd accusation that she was weak and lacked stamina? Was it a final rejection of the talented but scandal-prone Clinton family? Was it Hillary’s private email server, Benghazi, FBI Director James Comey’s theatrical proclamations on his stop-go-stop investigation of Clinton’s emails? Was it lower turnout among African-Americans, Latinos, young people and women? Or was it simply that Trump inspired all those angsty white folks who felt that the country was falling into the hands of the undeserving and coastal elites with contempt for “flyover country,” the so-called “American heartland,” where jobs have gotten scarce and God and guns rule.
Whatever the reason, the US is now a much worse place to be a woman. While Trump’s policies on issues such as reproductive rights and marriage equality have ranged over a very large map, his astonishing contempt for women is his most consistent characteristic. Unlike his shifts from Democrat to Republican—from wanting to ban all Muslims (unconstitutional) to maybe only some, from once being a pro-choice playboy to this year bemoaning the way “in the ninth month, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother” (which doesn’t happen)—his cold-blooded treatment of women has not changed. Remember, this is a man who discussed whether his grown daughter Ivanka had gotten breast implants, and told a shock jock to refer to her as “a piece of ass”; who picked a fight with a Venezuelan former Miss Universe, calling her “Miss Housekeeping” and insulted her weight; who cheated on at least two of his wives; and, who offered no convincing display of remorse, after being caught bragging about a career of groping and insulting women with impunity.