There have always been disagreements about a woman’s place in American culture. With the rise of President Donald Trump, more conservative extremists are being given not only power, but a platform and means to shape our society.
It isn’t just the president saying he can “grab ‘em by the p—y” without consent or consequences, as seen in a video released by the LA Times. His rhetoric empowers misogynists that believe women are second-class citizens.
Trump didn’t invent the unjust oppression of women, but his presidency is strengthening it.
In reference to a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy, Republican Rep. Justin Humphrey said, “I understand that they feel like that is their body, when you’re the host and invited that in.”
Seizing on the era of Trump, the right wing is leading the assault to defund Planned Parenthood and undermine access to abortion and family planning. By denying women these services, they are seeking to control our bodies and even our future. Why should a man in the District of Columbia make such personal decisions concerning my body and my future?
For many years, Vice President Mike Pence has been an anti-abortion crusader. In 2011, Pence co-sponsored the ‘Ultrasound Informed Consent Act’ that requires abortion providers to perform a medically unnecessary ultrasound in order to give a detailed description of the embryo, according to the Huffington Post.
Pence, an evangelical Catholic, has many extreme ideas regarding the treatment and sexuality of women. Due to his religion, Pence has claimed that he will never dine alone with a woman, according to ABC News. Clearly he doesn’t see women as equals, but as temptresses and sexual objects. How can a woman expect to excel professionally if her male boss or co-worker refuses to be alone with her?
The Pew Research Center, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, provides statistics regarding the gender pay inequality, revealing that the gap does, in fact, exist. Women still make around 83 cents to the men’s earned dollar, Pew reports.
Pay inequality is often written off as a myth; the implication is that women simply gravitate to lower-paying jobs. Even if women do select lower-paying careers, is that purely free choice or is it part of a larger historical system skewed towards favoring men in positions of mathematics and science? Female-dominated careers like teaching are often devalued by our society. Should teachers really make less than other professionals?
The pay disparity is only one aspect of discrimination in the workplace. Women are sexually harassed and assaulted at an alarming rate. According to Aware Organization, 54 percent of workers experienced sexual harassment. And despite varying rape statistics, there is an overwhelming amount of aggressive behavior toward women. Nearly every woman I know has, at some point, been subjected to unwanted sexual comments, catcalls, groping or victim-blaming.
Right-wing politicians and their supporters often complain that American women should be thankful for what they’re given, since others in different parts of the world have it worse. Because people of color in California might experience less overt racism than those in Alabama, should they just shut up and deal with it? Should the LGBTQ community stop fighting for their rights because they have it better than their equivalent in North Carolina?
No young girl should have to grow up assuming this sort of bigotry and sexism is normal. No woman should fear for her rights or be afraid to report a crime in worry of being called a liar.
When women are treated as second-class citizens, no matter how much worse others may have it, they should fight for equality in the face of misogyny. We have benefited from feminism throughout history, and it is our responsibility to continue the fight. To allow this administration to take everyone a step back in the gains women have made would be catastrophic for future generations.