How Life Has Changed For American Women One Year After Hillary Lost
Wednesday, Nov. 8 marks exactly one year since Hillary Clinton lost the presidency — and one year since Donald Trump won the role of commander-in-chief. And while there's no getting around the fact that women have less rights than they did before Trump took office, grassroots women's activism seems more fired up than ever.
Since Trump moved into the White House in January, legislation has been passed to undermine women's rights in the United States and around the world. Moreover, dangerous and misogynistic rhetoric and policy proposals have been suggested and perpetuated. However, Trump's presidency, and Clinton's loss, have also inspired a seemingly revitalized women's movement, with women around the country increasingly taking a stand to protect and promote women's rights. This kicked off with the Women's March on Washington and its sister marches. The momentum has continued throughout Trump's presidency, with advocacy initiatives via the Women's March organization and beyond.
Thus, Trump's presidency has perhaps had some very expected, but also unexpected, consequences for American women. While his administration's policies and rhetoric have undermined women's rights, women and men are not letting this behavior go unnoticed — and are increasingly taking unified and concerted action to counter the injustices perpetuated by the administration. This list reflects both the negative legislative implications the Trump presidency has had for women, but also the many positive ways in which American women and men have come together to counter the administration's actions.
Rolling Back Obamacare's Birth Control Mandate
In early October, the Trump administration announced that it was rolling back the Obamacare contraception mandate, which required employers to provide no-cost birth control to their employees (with the exception of some religious employers).
The Trump administration's decision now allows nearly any employer to claim a religious or moral exemption to providing birth control for women. This means that thousands of American women are now at risk of losing insurance coverage for contraception. Diminished access to birth control could, among other things, increase unplanned pregnancies, which has negative implications for women and children. Decreased access is also indicative of an attempt to diminish women's agency.
Ending The Equal Pay Rule
In August, the Trump administration announced that it was ending an Obama administration initiative to help women and minorities more easily identify whether they are being under compensated for their work. The Obama-era rule would have required private employers with over 100 employees to disclose pay data to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, something which would have raised pay transparency.
Tracy Sturdivant, the cofounder of the Make It Work campaign, described the decision as one that marked a substantial setback for women's rights, telling Forbes, "To suspend a crucial Obama-era initiative aimed at increasing pay transparency and reducing the gender and racial pay gap is an unacceptable and deliberate attack on women in the workplace, especially black and Hispanic women who are currently paid only 63 cents and 54 cents to the dollar white men are paid, respectively."
Reversing Campus Sexual Assault Guidelines
In August, Trump's Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, announced that the administration was rolling back Obama-era guidelines regarding sexual assault on college campuses. The guidelines instructed schools to use a less-stringent "preponderance of evidence" standard, rather than a stricter "clear and convincing evidence standard," to prove sexual assault. The Trump administration's news guidelines now allow schools to choose which standard they use, but mandate that the standard is "consistent with the standard the school applies in other student misconduct cases."
The decision to reverse the guidelines was condemned by women's rights advocates, who noted that it would likely make it more difficult for sexual assault to be prosecuted and resultantly discourage women from reporting assaults. The National Women's Law Center referred to the decision as "devastating" and noted, "It will discourage students from reporting assaults ... [it is] a huge step back to a time when sexual assault was a secret that was swept under the rug."
Limiting Planned Parenthood Funding
Back in April, Trump signed a law that allows states to withhold federal funding from organizations like Planned Parenthood, which provide abortion services in addition to many other reproductive health services.
Federal funding for abortion services was already prohibited by law, but Trump's new law allows states to withhold federal funding from organizations that merely provide these services, even if federal funds are not being used for abortion. The law puts many women's lives at risk, as thousands of women rely on clinics like Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings, contraception, and STD treatment and diagnosis, among other services.
Activism & Advocacy
The day after Trump's presidency, women and men around the United States participated in marches to stand up for women's rights. These marches were unprecedented, as they constituted the largest day of protest in U.S. history. Moreover, the marches also kicked off a reinvigorated and revitalized women's movement. Indeed, as a July CNN article described, Trump (and his anti-women policies) have seemingly brought women together like no other president before him.
The president of EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock, also commented to CNN that Trump's presidency has marked a dramatic shift for the modern women's movement, saying, “It’s like a whole new shift .... almost a rebirth [of the women’s movement] ... This is an extraordinary moment.”
Women around the country have not only taken a stand in the form of protests, but also through a variety of other advocacy initiatives. For example, the Women's March organization created a list of 10 actions for women to engage in following the march, some of which included voter registration drives and the "day without a woman" advocacy campaign, among others.
On Oct. 27-29, the Women's March hosted its first annual Women's Convention, in which women and men came together to plan out next steps for advocacy, particularly in light of the upcoming 2018 midterm elections.
Trump's presidency has also inspired many American women to run for office to ensure that their voices are better represented in the future. Emily’s List, an organization which helps elect pro-choice Democratic women, said in September that it had been contacted by more than 16,000 women since the election who are interested in running for office. During the 2016 election cycle, the organization was only contacted by 920 women — something which evidently marks a very substantial increase.
Schriock, the president of Emily's List, also spoke with Fortune in May about women's increased interest in running for office, saying that, post-Trump, women are taking every measure to ensure that their voices are heard: “[T]hese thousands of women are fighting to ensure their voices are heard at decision-making tables in communities across the country ... this is only the beginning.”
In the wake of Trump's presidency, more women have seemingly decided to speak out publicly to condemn misogyny in its many forms, including sexual assault and harassment.
The sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein (and the 17 and counting prominent men who have been accused of misconduct toward women since these Weinstein allegations emerged) constitute one example of people saying enough is enough and recognizing that speaking out is imperative to stopping unacceptable behavior toward women. In response to these allegations, Weinstein released a lengthy statement to the New York Times on Oct. 5, saying "I appreciate the way I've behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain and I sincerely apologize for it." He has also denied any allegations of non-consensual sex.
In an interview with Vox last week, Novelist Cheryl Strayed addressed this "silver lining" aspect of Trump's election, espousing the benefits of people deciding to use their voice in the public forum:
But the silver lining is that a lot of people have connected to others who are like-minded. A lot of people have had awakenings about their responsibilities as citizens. A lot of people have decided to use their voice in the public forum. In so many ways, there’s a positive force in response to Trump’s negative force.
Overall, as America recognizes the one-year mark of Clinton's loss, it is clear that Trump's presidency has had negative legislative and societal implications for women. But it's also evident that women and men are absolutely unwilling to accept these implications. Indeed, they are coming together more resolutely than ever to take a stand for women's rights.