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Trump’s War on Women

Posted by Gail Barth on

Is it just me, or is Donald Trump a tad anti-woman? Naw, it’s not just me. In fact, Trump let us all in on this little secret way back. During the campaign. Before the underwhelming minority of voters elected him. And before those of us with our heads not up our asses were stuck with him. He made it very clear with his comments on pussy grabbing. And his treatment—often on the national debate stage, no less—of a variety of women, including Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz's wife, Megan Kelly, Katy Tur, and, of course, Hillary. And yet, despite all of that, not only was he elected, but women were actually part of that deluded group of voters. But he hasn’t disappointed; they elected a misogynist and they got a misogynist, with all the nastiness that comes with it. And America’s women, including those of us who knew better, will now pay the price, probably for some time to come.

The Los Angeles Times has reported that Trump’s cabinet is the least diverse in three decades, with only a handful of women and none of those in the more powerful positions. Sean Spicer said that Trump is dedicated to uniting us and ‘bringing the best and the brightest together.’ Apparently, the best and the brightest includes very few women and no Latinos, the country’s biggest minority. And, in the case of DeVos, Trump chose a woman, but one with no earthly clue how to do her job, who basically bought her way onto the cabinet.

Trump’s recently announced list of candidates for US attorneys is beyond lopsided, with 32 men and one token woman. In fact, all but three of the candidates are white males. Those in this position serve four-year terms and carry out Trump’s law enforcement agenda, no inconsequential responsibility. To put it more in perspective, President Obama had 24 women as US attorneys at the time he left office. When it comes to judges, Trump also shows what he’s made of—and it’s not pretty. So far, he has nominated 36 judges, 7 of whom are women. It’s still early and that could change, of course, but based on the history and Trump’s tendency to be a horse’s ass when it comes to women, it doesn’t look good for an improvement in those numbers.

Carter was, not surprisingly, the first president to really step it up in appointing female judges, with 16%. Reagan took a dip, again unsurprisingly, with 9% female appointees, but succeeding presidents have improved those percentages. President Obama set a very high bar, with 42% of his appointments being women. Trump, so far, is at 19%, but again, looking at his history so far, that percentage isn’t likely to increase much. Experts have said that women in key positions offer a whole other perspective on the issues and on human behavior. To limit the number of women is to deprive everyone of their unique insight. But the reality is that Trump doesn’t consider their insight, however valuable to the rest of us, to be worth anything. 

I can’t really say that Trump is consciously waging war on women because I doubt that he considers women worthy of such effort. That kind of effort, anyway. But he certainly moved to keep women in their place just as soon as he was gifted with the power to do so. He moved quickly to nullify the Fair Pay order, which included paycheck transparency, a provision that directly impacts women, and a ban on forced arbitration in claims of sexual harassment, sexual discrimination, and sexual assault. Forced arbitration sometimes keeps such cases out of the courts and thus, keeps them secret. It’s also more intimidating for women who might hesitate to come forward out of fear. 

Through his proposed budget cuts, women stand to take numerous hits, many of them financial.

Trump has done nothing to advance equal pay for equal work. He has cut funding to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. He has cut violence against women programs and put people into key positions who will not stand up for women's rights, such as Sessions and Price. He made Stephen Miller, Mr. Anti-Equal Pay and Anti-Paid Family Leave, his advisor on women’s issues. He has cut various childcare services, which could affect some women’s ability to work. He has gone after abortion rights and women’s reproductive rights.

To be fair, Trump has used women repeatedly in one capacity, beyond the physical actions he’s detailed for us, and that’s as spokespersons. That begs the question: why? My theory is that Trump has women in positions where all they are called upon to do is parrot what he tells them. He has control over them, and control, however slippery sometimes, is what Trump is all about. They don’t have to actually think (and if you’ve seen Kellyanne in action, you’ve seen this firsthand); they just repeat. And with these women in high profile, albeit powerless positions, Trump can say, “See, I have women in the forefront of my administration.” But they’re pretty much window dressing, and they’ve sold their souls just as surely as the entire staff of Fox News has sold theirs.

The reality is that we have in office a man who clearly has never read the Bible, but relegates women to the lowly status he’s heard they hold in the Bible. A man who has been married three times to increasingly younger women but still has no respect for women. A man who joked about dating his daughter and objectifies women. A man who believes he could have nailed Princess Diana. A man who got defensive about his penis size on national television. A man who seems focused exclusively on a woman’s face and figure, and doesn’t hesitate to publicly belittle women based on that. The bottom line, and it really is at the bottom, is that Trump has no respect whatsoever for women beyond those parts he has bragged that he can freely grab.

It’s a given that any US president is elected on the assumption that he or she will represent the entire US population. Unfortunately, we’ve already seen that minorities and various ethnic groups do not actually have a president in Donald Trump. But apparently, neither do American women, and that’s the biggest chunk of the citizenry. And if the voices of the many millions of women who marched in Washington back in January tell us anything, they tell us that this is a group who won’t sit idly by while Trump and his Trumpettes walk all over them. But they have their work cut out for them; Trump is on a mission, and it’s to make sure that women remain second class citizens. And he’s doing a hell of a job so far.

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