When Donald Trump won the presidential election in November, many women across the country understandably felt frightened. Trump is arguably one of the most controversial presidential candidates in American history, especially when it comes to his words about women. He has made numerous sexually suggestive comments to female co-stars, publicly fat-shamed high-profile women, and even seemed to brag about grabbing women by their genitals without consent, though he has denied ever acting on his statements. Unsurprisingly, Trump's first 100 days have been pretty horrible for women — and that is an important reminder for women and their allies to continue resisting his controversial policies and reminding the Trump administration that women's rights are human rights.
During the election, Trump declared that "nobody has more respect for women than I do," but many of the policies that he has enacted since taking office prove otherwise. In fact, he has spent much of his time in office actively working toward denying women their basic right to reproductive health care services and freedom from discrimination in the workplace. To say the least, this shows far less than "respect"; it shows a lack of awareness of the challenges that women across the globe face, and a lack of interest in addressing them.
For example, one of Trump's first official acts as president was to reinstate "the global gag rule," a policy that prevents the government from providing funding to global organizations if they provide abortion services, or even if they discuss abortion as an option in family planning services. This policy affects some of the world's most vulnerable women, many of whom can't afford a child or have only become pregnant as the result of sexual violence. It also affects health organizations like HIV-prevention agencies that rely on aid money to provide life-saving treatment.
Locally in the United States, Trump's policies on women's health haven't been much better. Trump has repeatedly threatened to defund Planned Parenthood, a women's health organization that provides cancer screenings, HIV-testing, and contraception to millions of women each year. His Obamacare replacement plan, if it had passed Congress, would have even blocked women who rely on Medicaid from accessing Planned Parenthood services. And on April 13, Trump also signed a piece of legislation allowing states to withhold federal family planning dollars from clinics that offer abortion.
Also in April, Trump also signed an executive order that revoked the "Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Act" instated by Obama in 2014, which ensured that companies found guilty of workplace discrimination based on gender or sex couldn't receive government contracts. Now that this policy is no longer in place, employers can essentially discriminate against women without fear of government punishment.
The hallmark of Donald Trump's first 100 days in office will be resistance. But we can't stop at the 100 day mark. #Resist— Women's March CT (@womensmarchct) April 28, 2017
Even aside from his policies, Trump's rhetoric has been equally alarming. When Fox News host Bill O'Reilly faced numerous sexual harassment allegations in April (he has denied these allegations), Trump went out of his way — during sexual assault awareness month, no less — to defend O'Reilly.
"I think he's a person I know well, he's a good person," Trump said. "I don't think Bill did anything wrong."
Whether or not O'Reilly did anything wrong, this statement, coming from the United States, perpetuates the myth that "good guys" can't possibly commit sexual assault, which can cause survivors of sexual assault not to be believed in the future. This is particularly troubling given Trump's previous comments about grabbing women without permission, which, again, he denies. But instead of weighing in on whether or not sexual assault actually occurred, Trump could have made a powerful statement about how sexual assault survivors should be treated with respect and trust and provided with resources — but didn't.
At 100 days into Trump's presidency, this is only the beginning. Trump has so far failed to include women's voices and concerns in his policy-making decisions, but America can't let this keep it from fighting for change. The Women's March on Washington in January happened for a reason. It was a reaction against sexism and oppression. It was a statement against Trump's demeaning rhetoric. And it was a symbol that no matter who is in charge, women will always persevere. One hundred days may have passed, but there are still many more to go, and, given Trump's policies so far, there is still so much to speak out about.