If You Ever Doubted Misogyny's Strong Hold On America, Donald Trump Will Change That
Hillary Clinton will not be the next president of the United States. The fact that we will not be swearing in our first woman president in 2016 is a blow to those millions of men and women who voted for her. Yet while it would be foolish to think that sexism is the only thing that cost Clinton the election, it would be delusional to think that misogyny — a hatred or strong prejudice against women — did not play a large role in her defeat. If you ever doubted what a strong force misogyny is, the 2016 election results should've change that.
Donald Trump ran a campaign that advocates against equal pay for women, that doesn't believe in a woman's right to control her own body, and that would consider punishing women for having an abortion. (Yeah, he said it, and we have not forgotten.) Trump himself is a textbook misogynist who has continuously proven to have no respect for women both in private ("Grab them by the pussy") and in public ("Nasty woman"). He is unqualified for the presidency, having never held public office in his life, and he ran against, objectively, one of the most qualified candidates in the history of the United States. Trump's win sends a message to women everywhere that misogyny is to be tolerated, accepted, and even celebrated. And many, including celebrities like Rose McGowan and Jessica Chastain, have taken to Twitter to call out this unfortunate reality.
According to CNN, Clinton only won 54 percent of the women's vote (Trump won 42 percent) despite the fact that 70 percent of those same voters took issue with Trump's treatment of women. In October, websites like Nate Silver's Five Thirty Eight were predicting a huge gender gap in the election, with Clinton earning a possible 20 point lead in female voters. Yet regardless of statistics, the treatment Clinton has received and the comments Trump has made prove that misogyny is so ingrained in America that it is normalized for both men and women.
It's not that every Trump voter is a violent misogynist. In fact, many people who voted for Trump do not consider themselves misogynists, and some don't believe that Trump hates women. But by voting for Trump, they have condoned this behavior, and with white women emerging as a key demographic this election, it's become painfully obvious how deeply the wounds of sexism go. According to the Wall Street Journal, white women made up an estimated 36 percent of the electorate in 2016, with 51 percent breaking for Trump and 43 percent voting Clinton (compared to 60 percent of white men for Trump and 31 percent for Clinton). In contrast, that same study estimates that minority voters of both sexes voted overwhelmingly for Clinton.
Clearly, there are many factors that contributed to Trump's victory, but the fact that a majority of white women voted for Trump should tell us something about the nature of our country's sexism. It's not always about men hating women — it's also sometime, about women not valuing themselves or each other. No matter what happens under a Trump presidency, this election has sent a message to women that we are less than. Trump's win is an undeniable sign that misogyny is still an active and thriving facet of our American identity.
But there is hope. Millions of women and men did vote for Clinton. A narrow majority of Americans are ready for a female president. And so many of us are also ready to fight — for the rights of women and the rights of others. In the wake of Clinton's concession, many have begun a campaign to support women's organizations, be it by volunteering or donation. Planned Parenthood, for instance, known as a pillar for women's rights and healthcare, is trending on Twitter, with many pledging their allegiance to the organization.
Despite the defeat at the top of the ticket, this election has been a step forward for women in the Senate. Four women of color, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Kamala Harris of California, and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada won seats in the Senate last night, increasing the number of non-white women in the Senate from one to four. And Clinton herself remained optimistic that, one day, the glass ceiling would be broken. In her concession speech, she made sure to address young girls who had hoped to see a woman in the Oval Office, leaving them with a message of hope, not defeat. "Never doubt that you are valuable, and powerful, and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams," she said. Let us try to remember her words and follow her lead.