The most visible and massively well-attended street demonstration in recent years has been the Women March. Taking place on January 20, 2017 and amazingly repeated on January 20 and 21, 2018, the Women Marches were loosely organized around protests over Donald J. Trump’s misogyny, anti-woman policies, and political ascension. As a participant in the marches, it was difficult not to feel resurgence of hope that women could help change the course, as well as the dialogue in the country. One headline in the Economist recently read, “Women could be the undoing of Donald Trump.” While I would like to believe that women have the solutions and the answers, so many yet untapped, we must be aware of oversimplification: looking to women alone to right our ship of state.
As much as I want to believe in the power of women as some kind of positive and unified force for truth and right, we must reckon with reality and how Donald J. Trump rose to prominence, was elected, and is able to stay in power. Although Trump made clear his anti-woman agenda during his campaign and through his early presidency, there have been more than a handful of women supporting him every step of the way.
Even in the face of Trump’s election-eve revelation of, “I did try and fuck her. She was married…I moved on her very heavily…I moved on her like a bitch… I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything… Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything,” Trump was elected. The nation watched the Access Hollywood video as those words tumbled out of Trump’s mouth, and he was rewarded with the office of President of the United States. Forty-four percent of college-educated, white women voted for Trump, and 61% of non-college-educated white women went for Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Roughly half of all voting American women chose Trump—the grab ‘em by the pussy Trump—over a uniquely well-qualified, former First Lady, Secretary of State, New York State Senator, and life-long fighter for children and health care—a woman. To add insult to injury, there is also the infamous, but still anonymous, woman who wore a handprinted slogan on her tee-shirt at a Trump campaign rally that read, “Trump can grab my” with an arrow pointing to her crotch.
Powerful women have been firmly in Trump’s corner, shamelessly lying for him from lay pulpits. The evidence is everywhere. Dana Loesch, NRA spokesperson, recently referred to the student survivors of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida as, “tragedy-dry humping whores.” We could do an entire essay on the awful work of Loesch who is also known to have stated, “Trump critics will perish in the political flames of their own fires,” and advocated for NRA members to “fight Liberals with the clenched fist.” Loesch is well known to have called gun control advocates “infidels” and her political opposition “the Godless Left.” Loesch is joined by plenty of NRA women, among them, the powerful Marion Hammer, who has ruled over the Florida Legislature from her NRA Florida lobbyist position for years. In Florida where the Parkland and Orlando massacres occurred, 91% of Florida legislators have an A- or better rating from the NRA. Many credit Hammer with this “accomplishment.”
Republican/Conservative women leaders who have supported Trump, lied for him, sold their integrity, include Ivanka Trump, President Trump’s daughter and “advisor” who was listed near the top of the Forbes “Most Powerful Women” index; Kellyann Conway, Trump advisor and originator of the infamous “alternative facts” theory of lying while governing; spin masters Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House Press Secretary; Katrina Pierson, Trump national spokesperson; and New York State Congresswomen Claudia Tenney, who never misses an opportunity to stand at Trump’s side and demean their opposition, as well as reason. Her recent comments on a WGDJ radio interview startle: “It’s interesting that so many of these people that commit the mass murders end up being Democrats. The media doesn’t talk about that either.” Tenney, of course, received an A+ rating from the NRA. Trying to address her comments seems to give them more credence than they deserve, but in all likelihood, the media does not address the “mass murders end up being Democrats” is simply because it is not true. It is also noteworthy to mention that her heinous, false statements came after the Parkland High School murders.
Although it may be unfair to include Melania Trump with the rest of these women, as far as we know, she did choose to marry Donald J. Trump. We also have perpetual hanger-on Sarah Palin, the ex-governor from Alaska, whose family antics and penchant for unhinged rhetoric likely shortened her political career. Women columnists such as Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal, and pundits (or partisan hacks) Ann Coulter, Tomi Lahren, Laura Ingraham, Michelle Malkin, and Mollie Hemingway are among those who would not make humankind, let alone womankind, particularly proud. Their disgusting statements involving lies and manipulation are simply too numerous to print here.
There is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife Virginia Lamp Thomas, of course, who founded Liberty Central and Liberty Consulting, right-wing groups that helped foster the rise of the Tea Party and their stranglehold on the GOP Congress. Thomas, who is also a columnist for the Daily Caller and served on The Heritage Foundation, once admitted that she was well versed in “mind-control techniques.”
Although there are few women in Trump’s White House or administration, the Donald seems to think he personally employs (as of this writing) White House Communications Director Hope Hicks and Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. There is also Pam Bondi, Florida’s Attorney General, also has some shady deals with Trump, campaigns, and the unethical exchange of money.
Sometime legislators Joni Ernst, Liz Cheney, Michele Bachmann, presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, and entertainer Stacey Dash have all regularly produced cringe-inducing statements and actions on behalf of Trump and the GOP. Cleta Mitchell, President of the American Conservative Union Foundation; Marji Ross, who was responsible for publishing the deceptive Swift Boat narrative and sinking of John Kerry’s presidential campaign; Star Parker, the author of Pimps, Whores, and Welfare Brats; Diana Reimer, Tea Party Patriots; and Amy Kremer, Tea Party Express, are a few other names our list of women in power who subvert democracy, conversations about women’s equal rights, equal pay, reproductive rights, and the right to be free from physical and mental abuse. These Republican women all help to make it harder for women in general.
Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute, the ShesConservative social media platform, the Twitter page “Babes for Trump” (although it turns out “Babes for Trump” is actually run by four anonymous men) involve women working against women’s interests. There is a website called “Chicks on the Right.” Fighting misogyny, sexism, or racism is not as simple as putting women in power.
While it would behoove all American women to take a closer look at the policies the GOP and Trump are proposing or have enacted, large numbers of women will be unwilling to do so, even though those policies hurt their self-interests and the interests of children. “Trump’s Labor Department refused to defend an Obama-era rule that would have given 3.2 million women the right to overtime pay,” wrote Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett in an article for the Los Angeles Times on February 20, 2018. “He [Trump] canceled a rule that banned federal contractors from forcing women to settle sexual harassment and assault cases by arbitration. And he blocked a requirement that large companies report how much they pay workers by race and gender, which was meant to help identify and close persistent wage gaps,” according to Barnett and Rivers. Trump has left a pretty clear track record that is largely anti-woman, and certainly anti-equal rights.
Yet the LA Times article ended with a cautionary, “White women helped elected Trump; next time they may help defeat him.” It is difficult to tell at this point in time if Barnett’s and Rivers’ cautionary is wishful thinking or prescient.
A simple reminder to women out there who want to change America for the better and create opportunities for all Americans: there were men who stood beside us at the Women Marches, carried signs, brought us water. There were men who tirelessly and selflessly worked with us to gain the right to vote a century ago. The great fights for equality around both gender and race have been and will continue to be long and protracted. Those who wield power and act oppressively do not give it up easily. Women, these are critically important battles in a democracy for which we need to engage with our brothers and sons, not simply battle them.
Nancy Avery Dafoe