By Yumi Abe, GOOD.is
The 2016 election season has been a crazy political circus with Donald Trump as the ringleader. Jaw-dropping, eye-widening words that have been violently discharged from his filter-less mouth have left many in shock and disbelief. Trump has labeled Mexicans as rapists, mocked a disabled reporter, suggested that a federal judge could not fairly hear a trial because of his Mexican heritage, called for a total ban on Muslims, and attacked the parents of a slain Muslim U.S. Army officer.
Trump has even bragged about being able to grope any woman as a result of his celebrity status. This was revealed in a leaked 2005 Access Hollywood tape, where Trump made other extremely vulgar and predatory statements about women.
This video shook the election and may prove to be the final straw to break the back of his campaign.
The leaked footage led many women and Grand Old Party leaders to reconsider their support for the Republican nominee: Idaho Senator Mike Crapo; New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte; Arizona Senator John McCain; Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski; West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito; Maine Senator Susan Collins; and Alabama Governor Robert Bentley are some of the party representatives who withdrew their endorsement for Trump.
On top of that, eleven women have come forward to accuse Trump of sexual assault. He has vehemently denied their claims, accusing them of lying for attention, threatening to sue the accusers, and attacking their appearances.
The obscene language and behavior from Trump and his most fervent supporters perpetuates rape culture and normalizes sexual assault and violence. Trump has an excessively long and consistent history of disrespecting women both publicly and privately—and it never seems to end. The lack of sensibility is reflected in his remarks; he tries to justify his lewd comments with phrases such as “locker room talk” and “boys will be boys.” Meanwhile, his supporters sport blatantly misogynistic t-shirts emblazoned with bold text such as “TRUMP THAT BITCH” and “HILLARY SUCKS, BUT NOT LIKE MONICA.”
Shirt being sold outside the Trump rally in Buffalo. An entire block of vendors. pic.twitter.com/XFq2d4oL9O
— Amanda Terkel (@aterkel) April 18, 2016
Trump’s campaign speaks to men who feel like their place in the upper rungs of society is being yanked out from under their feet and handed out to women and people of color.
According to a 2016 American National Election Study—conducted by Stanford University and the University of Michigan—nearly 18 percent of Republican men reported having to deal with “a great deal” or “a lot” of gender discrimination in their day-to-day lives. This is a substantial increase—double to be exact—from the last presidential election. The percentage of Independent men who stated they have dealt with discrimination also rose—from 10 percent in 2012 to 14 percent in 2016. These beliefs are reflected in their political preferences: The the more likely these men report feelings of victimization, the more likely they will support Donald Trump.
Many of these men, according to a 2011 study, are more likely to view this as zero-sum discrimination, which means when one party benefits from an action or policy (say, women) it comes at the expense of the other party—men. This logic is the driving force behind the reasoning that affirmative action is “racist against white people” and a form of “reverse discrimination.”
Through that logic, it’s possible to see why men feel discriminated against. From the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, which gave women the right to vote; to the advent of birth control in 1960s, which expanded economic and sexual freedom for women; to the Combat Exclusion Policy being overturned in 2013, which allows women to finally serve in front line combat, women have been paving the road to equality and have made their way into traditionally male roles along the way.
Still, social and economic ascent does not come without consequences.
Women are still a highly underprivileged minority—even more disproportionately for women of color—compared to men. Don’t believe us? Check the stats:
- To be clear, men are also victims of rape and are statistically less likely to report instances of abuse; however, women are still far more vulnerable to being rape victims, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. As the coalition reports, 1 in 5 (20 percent) women fall victim to rape, while 1 in 71 (1.4 percent) men have been raped in their lifetime.
- “Femicide” is a term used to describe the murder of women for being women. In the United States, fives lives are lost to gun violence every single day. In most cases, victims are murdered by people they know—usually intimate partners. According to the Center for American Progress, between 2003-2012, 34 percent of women who were murdered were killed by an intimate male partner, while 2.5 percent of men who were murdered were killed by an intimate female partner.
- In some professions, women actually receive equal or better pay than men due to gender differences among specific occupations. For example, women who are social workers, merchandisers, and research assistants on average make $1.07 to $1.08 for their male counterpart’s dollar. However, women only make 72 to 73 cents for every man’s dollar in other higher paying industries. In 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor statistics noted, overall, white women still only make 75.4 percent of a man’s wage. This number drops to 60.5 percent and 54.6 percent for black and Hispanic women, respectively.
- Women are almost invisible in Fortune 500 companies; in 2016, there were just 21 women at the helm of Fortune 500 companies—that’s 4.2 percent. This number fell from 2014 and 2015 statistics, when there were 24 women in CEO positions. A Harvard Business Review study reveals that the rise to the top is especially difficult for women, as women worked a median of 23 years at a single company before becoming CEO, compared to men who worked a median of 15 years.
- Men account for over half of sexual abuse victims in the military. As reported by Frontline, in 2012, there were 13,900 and 12,100 reports of unwanted sexual contact from men and women, respectively. But, when you compare it to the 1.2 million men and 200,000 women in the military, the numbers reveal that women are disproportionately susceptible to sexual abuse.
- Hillary Clinton is the first female presidential candidate for a major political party and has been the target of sexist remarks— elements such as her hair, smile, makeup, and outfit selection—and she is consistently attacked for her physical appearance. Her sexuality has been questioned and she has even been criticized by Donald Trump for not possessing a “presidential look.” Her appearance has been the topic of many headlines and have nothing to do with Clinton’s, or frankly anyone’s, performance. Men too have been scrutinized for their appearance, but as Ben Shapiro, author of Project President: Bad Hair and Botox on the Road to the White House puts it, “In past elections, male contenders have been critiqued for their appearances, but not to the same degree as Clinton.”
The United States government is undoubtedly a man’s world. When policies concerning women’s rights are at hand, it is unsettling to know they are being dealt with in an environment saturated with men.
There is a common thread linking these instances together: yes, men can face discrimination; men can be raped; men can be killed by women; and men can earn less money than women. However, we live under a system that regularly benefits men—white men in particular—and men don’t simply evade these unfortunate circumstances solely because they are men. It’s that women are more likely to find themselves in these situations through systemic and blatant sexism. We should never discredit instances such as the raping and killing of men, but instead, work together to address issues concerning both sides and decrease the differences between men and women.
The only positive outcome from Trump’s campaign is that extremely contentious issues were placed front and center and given a platform for serious conversation. Sexism is broad and complex and governs the lives of many women. It doesn’t solely exist in the house, but is entrenched in institutions such as the workforce, the military, corporations, and the government. The 2016 election has, undoubtedly, been a rollercoaster with many dips, twists, and turns and as it’s coming to a slow halt, it’s important to remember to elect leaders who will forge change, who will promote equality, and who will not overturn the progress that many men and women have fought for.