As a soon-to-be sexagenarian white male from the deepest, reddest, state in the country, I’m totally convinced that the future of our country depends on the most discriminated against class of people throughout the world, regardless of country, region, or hemisphere…WOMEN. And the thing that makes it so damned infuriating is that as the so-called “leaders of the free world”, we should be proceeding in exactly the opposite direction.
When Donald Trump got elected president with 3 million fewer votes than his female counterpart, he was unprepared, childishly thin-skinned, lazy, blatantly dishonest, petty, and ignorant of government’s role or the economic differences between a country and a business. Worse, to this day cannot accept that a woman beat him, and the adjectives I used to describe him have deepened and become more embedded by the mostly white male GOP members of Congress.
Not only that, but despite, or perhaps because of, Trump’s litany of blatantly misogynistic, childish tantrums, women turned out by the millions worldwide to protest the ascent of a man who was literally caught red handed bragging about being able to use his fame to sexually abuse women with impunity.
When Trump made one Cabinet appointment after another who are opposed to some or all of the legal protections women’s groups have fought to achieve for years, they got angrier. When trump rolled back protections for women in the workplace behind closed doors and away from his normal public braggadocio and cameras flashing that he craves like a heroin addict craves the next fix, they got angrier still. He loves the limelight like a fat baby loves cake.
Now that it’s done, if America is to ever not only recover the rights and opportunities men have stripped from women and join the rest of the civilized world where opportunities and power-sharing between men and women are equivalent, it’s obviously going to be up to the women in America to wrench it from the hands of the patriarchal Republicans and their brainwashed male and female voters. After the shock wave of Trump’s election subsided, and amid the glow of the immediate and overwhelming success of the Women’s March on Washington, the women and girls who participated in the marches are mounting what Noreen Farrell, executive director of Equal Rights Advocates, defines as “an epic and historic battle”.
“I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that President Trump presents the biggest threat to women’s progress we’ve seen in the last 50 years,” states Ms Farrell, whose group works for equal protection for women in law, in the workplace, and in schools. “Some of it is under the radar, and some of it is right in front of us. But what’s happening at the federal level is not only terrifying. It’s an outrage,” she says.
“It’s hard to think of an agenda more dangerous to women than the one this administration is pushing through,” adds Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List, which raises awareness and money for Democratic, pro women’s rights candidates. “Trump has made his top priority as president crystal clear – rolling back…women’s rights.”
In the less than three months Trump has been president, he has made policies and comments that have agitated (and motivated) not only female activists, but women heretofore unconcerned politically. Trump’s latest slap to jaw of women everywhere was in a New York Times interview, in which he made his latest unforced error by stating that Fox News host Bill O’Reilly should not have settled not one, but multiple cases that totaled $13 million going to women who accused O’Reilly of sexual harassment.
“I don’t think Bill did anything wrong,” (he could as easily been talking about Bill Cosby) Trump told the paper – brazenly inviting links to his own comments during the campaign; that he can “grab ‘em [women] by the pussy” with no fear of retaliation because he is a TV star.
Trump re-imposed the covert global gag rule, as have previous Republican presidents, requiring that any overseas organization receiving U. S. aid dare not engage in any abortion-related activities – including even discussing any available options in countries where the procedure is legal…even if a woman asks about it.
Naturally, not all women favor abortion rights, and that’s fine. Nobody is trying to take away any of their rights nor their right to believe however they wish. But the GOP, who claims to want government out of people’s personal lives, continually seek to impose more rules and laws upon women that is none of their business nor, according to their own creed, the federal governments. But family planning groups argue that the gag rule intentionally weakens organizations that don’t perform abortions, but do provide essential reproductive and women’s health services. President Ronald Reagan installed the rule in 1984, (would someone please help George Orwell turn over in his grave?) and since then, it has been lifted by Democratic presidents and re-imposed by every GOP Oval Office occupant.
Domestically, Trump has already been more extreme than all previous modern day GOP presidents, working with congressional Republicans to defund Planned Parenthood, which receives about $500 million in federal funds annually to provide gynecological and reproductive care for women and girls. In its annual reports, PP substantiates that approximately three percent of its services are abortion-related in any way. And this despite dishonest claims from bogus film and tapes to lies from certain Republican women in Congress, millions of American women, from victims of rape to essential medical treatment not available elsewhere, depend on Planned Parenthood.
Despite Congress being totally controlled by his Party (the GOP or Russian Communism, take your pick), Trump has been unable thus far to win legislative changes. But he has personally rolled back protections though executive regulation. In late March, Trump revoked the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order.
The obvious conclusion that nobody is talking about, is that ANYTHING that benefits middle-class or poor Americans is subject to immediate dismantling by Trump and the GOP from consumer protections to women’s rights, despite every single utterance from Trump’s campaign was skewed to just the opposite.
Trump’s cabinet has drawn anger from female equality proponents. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, in her confirmation hearings, showed little commitment to protections for transgender students in schools, and made no commitment to continuing Obama-era rules meant to increase reporting of sexual assault at educational institutions, notes Fatima Goss Graves, president-elect of the National Women’s Law Center.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price opposes abortion, as well as a contraception coverage mandate under Obamacare and vehemently opposed a 2015 District of Columbia law that would have prevented employers from firing women for using birth control or having an abortion.
Of course Congressional Republicans are still trying to come up with a replacement for the Affordable Care Act, and some are arguing that the new law should get rid of “essential benefits,” including maternity care and emergency room visits. Even Vice President Mike Pence (who is even more radically anti-women’s rights) tweeted out a White House photo of Trump negotiating the health care legislation with Capitol Hill lawmakers…all male.
The official HHS website has removed language noting that the ACA bans sex discrimination, and several women’s groups have filed a Freedom of Information Act request to learn why. I strongly suspect the Freedom of Information Act itself will disappear just as clandestinely as did the above.
A number of cases involving insurance coverage for contraception or other reproductive rights matters are likely to reach the Supreme Court, and the presence of the beneficiary of the stolen Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland, Justice Neil Gorsuch, means such mandates are obviously endangered.
It’s only a matter of time before there will be a high court outright challenging the 1973 Roe v Wade decision with Gorsuch’s addition to the Court.
Susan Platt, a longtime political aide and business leader, turned her disappointment into action, marching in the Women’s March the day after Trump’s inauguration. And the following day, she announced her candidacy for lieutenant governor in Virginia, a state that has never had a female in either the governor’s or lieutenant governor’s role.
“Suddenly, we were looking at the bullier-in-chief,” says Platt. And “it’s not just women who are concerned about their rights. It’s everyone who’s not a billionaire. Who will be the next victim of his ire?” she asks. And her actions have spun off to others. She has been approached by women running for state legislative offices in Virginia, and “a number of them said [Platt’s candidacy] gave them the courage to run for delegate.”
EMILY’s List has observed this trend to be playing out nationwide. While at this point in the 2016 campaign, fewer than 1,000 women approached the group asking for guidance and support running for office, more than ten times that number of women in all 50 states and the District of Columbia have inquired about running for office…mostly spurred by Trump’s victory. Nearly two-thirds of the 500 women who attended a “Getting Ready to Run” training session in Washington D.C. the day after the women’s march were under 45.
The demand for a greater female voice and gender equality is increasing in state legislatures, as well. Lawmakers in 40 states (all outside of the Deep South) have introduced fair pay legislation, according to Carolyn Fiddler of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committe.
At the grassroots level, women are turning their anger into action – and starting young. Throughout the crowds across the United States that went to the Washington, D. C. women’s march, mothers and daughters have kept up the activism since returning home. They are volunteering more and thinking of running for office in a couple of years.
Some daughters, as young as seven years old, wearing pink, knit women’s march hats, the girls attend organizing sessions with her mothers, where residents talk about maintaining civil rights and equal rights in the era of Trump. The girls are reading children’s books about the civil rights movement and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. One woman with a seven year old daughter said, “She calls herself a feminist,” “The word ‘dissent’ is in her vocabulary. ‘Resist’ is in her vocabulary. ”
Men have had their chances throughout United States’ history to correct the wrongs being committed daily against women and have done nothing that didn’t benefit their own status…but none as much as Donald Trump.
So women ready themselves for battle against the ways of Trump and his GOP, sexist, racist, patriarchal minions from the Cabinet to Capitol Hill, while Trump bolsters his personal and family fortunes, including spending all but one weekend since being elected President golfing at his members-only Mar-a-Lago retreat at taxpayers’ expense, (He’s on course to spend more taxpayer money on his personal travels in 3 months than President Obama spent in his entire eight-year presidency). Oh those cost-conscious Republicans huh?
It’s obvious to this white male that the salvation of the United States, if it manages to survive at all, will be due largely to the efforts of the women in the United States; not the white males who cannot even recognize their own chauvinistic, scared-little-boy cowardice.