Donald J. Trump is a man of many scandals. Allegations of corruption, white supremacy and several court cases have dominated his tenure as president.
They are the elephants in the room that are constantly talked about. Trump’s infamous comments on women have been broadcast globally and discussed during hundreds of hours of television. Each of these statements should have meant political suicide, his ‘grab them by the pussy’ remark emerging in the election campaign being the most obvious one. But they didn’t. 53% of white women voted for Donald Trump. Furthermore, 16 women accuse Trump of sexual assault. Even if, as the White House claims, these women are lying, it adds to an already gigantic picture of Mr Trump as a sexist. Just why did so many women vote for Trump, and what do his views mean for women in general?
Aside from the hateful rhetoric (which is harmful on its own), the Trump administration is actively engaging in the repression of women’s rights. In May, Trump signed an executive order promoting ‘religious liberty’. As ever, this was perhaps not the most liberal – politics tends to be that way (see the ‘Democratic’ Republic of North Korea). This order, among other things tries to loosen tax codes that stop religious organisations from funding political parties. This is something that the Donald complained about many times during his election campaign – much of his support comes from the Christian conservative right. But aside from being just self-serving and reducing secular democracy, this executive order is also extremely threatening to women’s basic rights. It allows any employers’ religious beliefs to legally allow them to refuse insurance coverage of birth control. Under the guise of tolerance and liberty, freedoms are being stripped away in favour of one particular belief.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for this violation of reproductive rights. A senior staff attorney at the Union described this executive order as ‘giv[ing]broad license to employers to discriminate against their employees and withhold a benefit (birth control) guaranteed by law’. The ACLU describe this order as ‘blatantly unconstitutional’. This type of undemocratic behaviour is typical of Mr Trump, it is behaviour we have come to expect. In a tweet, the Union declared:
Only you should have the power to make decisions about your birth control
This is what equality for women is all about: control. Women simply want to be able to have a choice. Sexual consent is a choice. What you wear is a choice. Having children is a choice.
1,200 members of the clergy and faith leaders wrote explicitly in an open letter to Donald Trump, opposing ‘discrimination in the name of religion’, stating that the order turns religious freedom into a ‘weapon to discriminate against broad swathes of the community, including women’. But it doesn’t seem like Mr Trump cares. His actions now as President prove that his endless rhetoric about women and the way he views them were not simply ‘locker room talk’. They may have been truthful.