How The Rise Of Donald Trump Has Shown Us Why We Need Feminism More Than Ever

women's march
roya ann miller

I’d like to start off by saying that nothing good this man has done has been intentional. Just because we’re able to extract some positive outcomes from this man’s toxic behavior does not mean that he has been vindicated. It only means that we are stronger than he is; that we’re able to see the big picture and are actively using this as a catalyst for progress. We’re learning to stand up and defend ourselves and, while he may have helped to set this movement forward, he is in no way deserving of our thanks.

People have taken to hiding their biases for a long time now. It’s been considered socially unacceptable to make openly racist or sexist comments. This means that though people have still held morally reprehensible beliefs, they knew to keep them within the confines of their own heads or, at most, share them only with a few people they felt close to. Most of them, anyway.

Collectively, we had no problem denouncing that we’ve considered apparent injustices. You know, the black and white things. The basics. For a while there, we’d never have to openly ask anyone to do so because it was just assumed that our society had grown out of these unfounded and toxic ways of thinking that others were somehow inferior based on biological factors like skin color or gender.

The world was a better place back then, with “back then” in this context meaning just a few years ago.

After many years of struggling and fighting to earn basic human rights, women were finally allowed to vote; to study what they chose and secure a career in a field that they were genuinely interested in. It was no longer assumed by nearly every man in this country that all women were put on this planet by a mythological being for the sole purpose of reproducing. Women were no longer expected to be seen and not heard or to spend all their time in the kitchen. What more could we ask for?

We’ve spent so much time assuming that holding the same legal rights meant that women and men are truly regarded as equals and it’s because of Donald Trump that the majority of us can call this assumption out for what it really is- complete bullshit.

The right to choose our own careers does not mean much when we’re paid significantly less than men who work in the same position and hold the same experience. It means even less when, despite concrete statistical evidence from countless sources, people continue to deny that this fact is true. Republican representatives have even voted no on motions to make equal pay mandatory and yes, some of these representatives were actually women.

The fact that we’re backed by legal protections in the workplace does not mean much either when nearly every reported sexual harassment case is dismissed. When women are afraid to speak up about abuse they’re facing each day because evidence shows that they’re more likely to lose their job or, at the very least, face retaliation than they are to actually be granted justice, we cannot claim that these legal protections are legitimate solutions to the problems we face.

We are told to be flattered by catcalling. Reporting rape or sexual assault results in shaming and interrogating victims and dismissing cases and rarely in convictions, so we don’t report that either. And when we do, we get to watch the man who assaulted us walk off sentence-free with a smirk on his face, free to seek his next victim. And if we are raped, which about a staggering 1 out of every 6 American women have been, and happen to fall pregnant? These same people tell us that we must keep the unwanted baby no matter our age or how ready we are simply because they think their god would think that we should. It doesn’t matter if we’ll be unable to foster any sort of healthy relationship with that baby since, you know, its father raped us. It doesn’t matter if we’ll be able to provide for it or if it means losing everything that we have or that it’ll make our goals unattainable. In their eyes, anything with the potential for life is worth more than that of an actual living, breathing woman.

We are denied access to necessary gender-specific health care. They shut down clinics that provide cancer screenings and contraceptives because they also provide those abortions that middle-aged white men think we shouldn’t be entitled to. After all, why should we have the right to choose what to do with our own bodies?

We’ve spent so much time ignoring these facts and most of it has been because openly discussing women’s issues has been considered distasteful. Essentially, we’re told that asking for common decency and equal consideration isn’t ladylike so we should shut up. Men have already given us so much, so we should just quit while we’re ahead.

We’re told that the issues we face are made up; that the movement for equal pay is nothing but a hoax and that women who come forward about an assault or other abuse that they’ve endured aren’t brave but are just attention whores. We’re told that Jesus thinks it’s okay for men to make choices for us so we must allow them to.

And you know what? For a while, some of us believed this. Collectively, we fell into a toxic pattern of complacency.

That is until Donald Trump came along.

After he says a woman will not be elected for president over him because of “her face” and that another “could not possibly satisfy a country if she could not satisfy her husband” as if there is an actual equivalency in there somewhere, circled and mansplained to his female opponent, called women bimbos and said a 12-year old was attractive…

After he says that women who choose to have abortions should be punished, after he joked that he would date his own daughter, after he said that he “goes through the roof” when his wife does not have dinner ready for him when he gets home, after he said that successful women are boring, rated women he wanted to sleep with, joked about having sex with Princess Diana and commented on the figure of the First Lady of France, after he pitched an idea for a reality TV show called “Lady or Tramp” where women would literally be taught obedience and manners…

After he said breastfeeding is “disgusting”, spoke about his own penis during a presidential debate, blamed sexual assault on cohabitation, after he publicly stated that women “should be treated like shit” …

It is then that we are forced to confront the fact that not only did millions of people vote for him anyway but that it was enough to let him win the election.

What does that say about the way that our society views women? In the same respect, what does this suggest we think about men? Do we really believe that they’re all loose cannons who are utterly incapable of forcing themselves on women; that no man sees women as more than a trophy or sex object or that they determine our worth based strictly on our looks and willingness to please them? Do we honestly believe that they can’t control themselves; that all men are just like this and we should just learn to deal with it?

When women refused to go out and vote because of Hillary’s e-mails or, even worse, actually voted for this man, can it really be argued that we aren’t condoning his behavior? Does this not open the door for more men to come forward with the same rhetoric, to behave the same way? Have women really bought the idea that this is how they deserve to be treated?

How can we make excuses for his rhetoric and state that he “just didn’t mean it” and dismiss it as “locker room talk”, especially when there are just so many instances in which he’s exhibited this misogynistic behavior?

When we say that we can agree that he’s unprofessional but that we’re confident that he’ll do what’s best for our country, who do we really believe he’ll stand by? Whose interests do we consider worth protecting?

You cannot tell us that there isn’t a problem with the way society reacts to women’s issues when the same man who is on the record stating that he simply walks up to women and grabs them by the pussy, who said that he’s allowed to do it simply because he was a celebrity, was elected to represent our nation.

You cannot tell us that we aren’t at a disadvantage professionally when the President of the United States blatantly states that a pretty little Korean woman should be negotiating with other countries for us.

You can’t tell us that we’re not seen as inferior to men when the president is free to attack any woman he wants based solely on her weight or the way that she looks rather than provide an actual, relevant argument.

When a man can openly dismiss a strong woman who he feels has defied him by saying that it must be her time of the month and we elect him president anyway, you cannot attempt to maintain this delusion that nothing is wrong.

When we dismiss all 19 women who have spoken out publicly about the assault they’ve endured at his hand when we threaten their lives for being brave, we’re really dismissing every single woman who has been in their shoes and, as I mentioned before, there are a fucking lot of them.

The same men who elected Donald Trump are the men who have hidden their superiority complexes in the dark for all this time, only occasionally taking subtle gabs in public settings. Sure, they’ve made sure their wives understood their outlandish expectations, but that’s been about it. Republican lawmakers with these beliefs have worked mainly behind closed doors to further restrict women but have remained hesitant to vocalize their most misogynistic thoughts.

But Donald Trump clearly has not. His lack of filter, or a brain for that matter, and history on reality TV rather than in politics has allowed us to collect years’ worth of evidence of how he feels about women. Not only this, but he continues to stand by all that he’s said, adding to this collection on nearly a daily basis.

The oppression that women face, the same oppression that these men work increasingly hard to convince us is a façade, is no longer hiding in the shadows. It’s not just “there” either- it’s not something that we have to go digging for, and it’s certainly not debatable. It’s shoved in our face nearly every second. If you open Facebook or walk into a business that happens to have the news on, it’s there. He’s right there on your screen doing something awful. Reversing progress.

We as a society are being forced to confront this and the results have been astounding.

Think about it. Have you ever seen us stand together this closely? Have we ever provided such loving, unwavering support to other women? We’ve spent so much time competing with one another, oftentimes vying for the affections of men, that we forgot how to love and accept each other. They used this divide to their advantage. As much as I hate to admit it, we were part of the problem. I was part of the problem.

Have you ever seen so many women so pissed off? Not just striving for change, but demanding it. Taking action. Standing up for not only each other but for themselves.

I mean, look at us. The MeToo movement, the Women’s’ March. The steps we’ve taken. The fact that more and more of us have bothered to show up and vote against this man and others with the same reprehensible mindset as Donald Trump. Fuck, even the hashtags we’ve made on social media to represent our solidarity. We no longer carry our pain alone but are emboldened by our fellow women, working together to make the world a better place for our own daughters. We will make the world safe and sound for them.

We are filled with fire and fury and where there is anger, there is resistance. Where there is resistance, there is change. It’s okay to be angry. We deserve better and we are not wrong for fighting against our mistreatment.

As for those who stand against us, who try to convince us that their desire for unity outweighs our cry for true equality? It’s important to recognize the false equivalency on which they continue to base their arguments. Our response to injustices we face is not equal to the acts of those who oppress us and we absolutely should not pretend that it does.

Thanks to Donald Trump, we finally have a uniting force; something that not only brought us together in the first place but reminds us constantly what it is that we are fighting for.

As a wise woman once said, “You can call me a snowflake if you want to, but I am one of millions and together we make a goddamn blizzard.” TC mark

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Image Credit: roya ann miller