It’s hard to know where to start with Republican candidate Donald J. Trump. I identify as a liberal Democrat, but I do my best to be consciously respectful of our country’s other half. Their views may differ from mine, but we’re all just trying to live in peace. They like blueberries out of the box, I only like mine in muffins, it’s cool. For me, this doesn’t dismantle their humanity.
This election, however, is unlike any other. I don’t believe that the views, inappropriate comments, grotesque behavior and assaulting slander that has come out of Trump’s mouth is representative of the Republican party, or of my friends and family who have supported it in the past. At this point, in October of an election year, I am livid, I am pissed out of my mind, I am devastated, I am sad and I am deeply shaken and disappointed.
The following is my analysis of Trump and Hillary Clinton’s campaigns in the context of women’s rights. These are the issues nearest and dearest to my heart; issues which I expected to see enormous improvement on in the years to come and issues which I don’t intend on my daughter, or anyone’s daughter, to face in their lifetime.
These are the facts, followed by my own opinion; my goal is not to impede on your own, but to explain why I feel so saliently sure I am voting for Clinton. This is a vote that I will be proudly casting with all of my heart, and the entirety of my vagina.
Among the issues clearly outlined by the Clinton campaign, at least two are in direct relation to women’s issues. On Trump’s campaign site, there are none. None of his positions include anything regarding women, at least not explicitly.
I therefore had to fish through the pages to try to get an understanding of how Trump intends to support, or not to support, women during his presidency, if elected. Before casting your vote in November, I urge you to acknowledge the following information.
Under Child Care Trump outlines his vision to “[rewrite] tax code to allow working parents to deduct from their income taxes child care expenses,” “[create] a new, dynamic market for family-based and community-based solutions,” “[incentivize] employers to provide childcare at the workplace,” and “[p]rovide six weeks of paid leave to new mothers before returning to work.” Okay, we sort of get a mention of women in that last one there about paid leave. If you scroll down a tad on that page, Trump’s campaign has been so kind as to include contrast with Clinton where it states, “Hillary Clinton has not proposed any specific solutions for childcare.”
Moving over to Clinton’s issues page, there is a tab titled “Paid family and medical leave,” where up to 12 paid weeks to care for a new child or ill family member is guaranteed. The page goes on to outline Clinton’s historic efforts in fighting for policies that benefit family. After graduating from Yale Law School, Clinton worked at the Children’s Defense Fund to expand access to education for disabled children. Other accomplishments include the fight for the Family Medical Leave Act when she was First Lady, and the expansion of the law for wounded soldiers and their families as New York senator. At the bottom of Clinton’s campaign pages is a section of related articles praising her historical successes.
“Women’s rights and opportunity: We need to break down barriers that hold women back” reads the title of Clinton’s next issue-tab. The first bullet on the page is dedicated Clinton’s promise to “work to close the pay gap.” The importance of this position is unquestionable. In our severely gendered and systemically racist country, women earn roughly 80 cents to the male dollar—even though women make up nearly half of the workforce and are the primary breadwinners for four in 10 families across the United States.
Trump’s official campaign site fails to mention anything about equal pay, but he has spoken out regarding his disinterest. For example, at a rally in New Hampshire last October, he said, “You’re gonna make the same if you do as good a job.”
Clinton’s campaign homepage displays a historical slideshow of what each candidate was up to at certain points in time; in 1995, the year I was born, Clinton made a speech at the UN insisting that “human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights.”At the same point in time, Trump was owner of the Miss Universe Organization, and stated plans to “make contestant’s ‘bathing suits. . .smaller’ and ‘heels. . .higher.’” I’ll lose it in just a few moments. Until then, I’ll say this much—he’s certainly consistent.
More promises are made on Clinton’s “Women’s rights and opportunity” page. They include confronting violence against women, maintaining a pro-Planned Parenthood stance, insisting protection of women’s health and reproductive rights and promoting women’s rights around the world.
On Clinton’s third page dedicated to women, she addresses sexual assault on campuses. One in five women report having been sexually assaulted in college. This statistic does not include unreported cases, which account for two in three assaults. Clinton’s platform provides three steps in addressing this issue: provide comprehensive support to survivors, ensure a fair process for all and increase prevention efforts. The page also includes some of Clinton’s previous involvement in combatting sexual assault, including the co-sponsorship of the reauthorization of the 2005 Violence Against Women Act.
Okay, are you still with me? That is the basic outline of what goes down on both Clinton’s and Trump’s official campaign pages in regards to women’s rights. Neither should come as a surprise, given what is known about the candidates; one has a historical record of supporting and pursuing the importance of women’s rights, and the other doesn’t feel that the female half of the population is important enough to draw mention to.
While Trump neglects to address women’s issues in his plans for presidency, he certainly illustrates his feelings toward us with his actions—particularly his statements alluding to sexual assault. If you’re not yet in the loop, or are caught in denial of the Donald, allow me to bring you up to speed.
Last week The Washington Post released a tape of Trump from 2005 talking to talk show host Billy Bush with a mouth full of diarrhea. Among the repulsive, harmful, triggering language heard in the recording, “grab her by the pussy” is perhaps the highlight.
Trump’s language throughout the tape is crude and offensive, but that is not why I am angry. Misogynistic, entitled, rich, white-pieces-of-trash are nothing new to our world. Women are hit by slanderous language daily; some hear this language from strangers as they walk to work, some from their spouses while getting beaten and some while they’re getting raped. Scum-of-the-earth men scare me to the bone, but they don’t surprise me.
However, this particular piece of shit brings this issue to a new level. If Trump wins the election it would bring these words into the White House, giving them authority that, as a citizen of this nation, women are required to abide by. This man of immense pseudo-power is attempting to take over the highest political position in the world, and he is doing so while excusing sexual assault as “locker-room talk.”
Yes, if you missed the punchline, Trump wrote the whole tape off as “locker-room talk.” At the start of the second presidential debate Monday night, moderator Anderson Cooper wasted no time in addressing what the Internet had already exploded over.
“You described kissing women without their consent and grabbing their genitals,” Cooper said. “That is sexual assault. You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?”
To which Trump, in a reiteration of a tweet, answered “No, I didn’t say that at all. I don’t think you understood what was—this was locker-room talk.”
Unfortunately for Trump’s devout supporters who wrote this event off as a one-time, “not a big deal, all is forgiven,” slip up, further evidence that Trump committed sexual assault does in fact exist.
On Oct. 7, The New York Times reported the story of Jill Harth, a makeup artist who worked with Trump. In 1993, Harth accused Trump of attempting to rape her. The Times explains how it all went down–starting with a business partnership and contract-signing party at Trump’s Florida home. Harth recalls Trump pushing her against a wall, and then touching and kissing her while telling her to “just calm down.” At a second business interaction, the advances persisted. Harth recalls her experience as being so traumatic that at one point she threw up as a defense mechanism.
“He thinks he’s god’s gift to women,” Harth said, thinking back on the events. Trump left the business deal after two lawsuits were filed against him, one for breach of contract and a second for sexual harassment including attempted rape.
“How can people not believe me now?” Harth said in a separate interview with The Huffington Post, now optimistic that her story will not go unheard.
This Wednesday, The Times reported that two more women have accused Trump of sexual assault. One of these women is Jessica Leeds, who, 30 years ago, found herself next to Trump in a first-class flight cabin. She claims that during this flight, Trump was touching her breasts and was even trying to reach up her skirt. Leeds says she felt as though Trump was lying straight to her face in Monday night’s debate, making her want “to punch the screen.”
“I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that,” recalls Rachel Crooks, the second woman in the report. Crooks was 22 years old when she had her experience with Trump; she encountered him in an elevator, where he the proceeded to kiss her lips without consent.
In the midst of this madness, a Twitter-storm took form after FiveThirtyEight released maps showing what the election would look like if only women, or only men, voted. If the latter were to take place, Trump would celebrate an overwhelming win–in other words, Trump could win the presidency if women did not vote. His supporters quickly took to Twitter, addressing the issue with the expected cruelty with a trending hashtag that reads “Repeal the 19th,” referencing the 19th Amendment which allowed women the right to vote in 1920.
This brings us to the present. Moving forward, I have come to some conclusions of my own.
I cannot speak for all women. No one woman is the same; we don’t experience everything the same way, nor is it possible for us to. Our unique multiplicity of identities intersect to define our individualism. We must work to instill this feeling of individuality, while still acknowledging where our paths cross over. I believe that the common path meets between the thighs and smack between the lips of the labia: the vagina.
We differ across identities and beliefs regarding our genitals, but still, we inhabit the same complicated organ that is constantly interrogated by people who really, really need not have a say. Whatever your beliefs are regarding your vagina, you’re entitled to them. This election, we have one candidate who supports not only that right, but the insistence and furthering of that right. The other, however, thinks that your vagina is one of his privileges. And regardless of party preference, race, gender, orientation, class, ability, eye color, supplementary milk preference or whatever, you should be pretty fucking angry about that.
It’s 2016 and we have a real-life man, not a fictional character or reality television star, who literally wants to storm the white house and assert his misogynistic, hegemonic, sexist, racist, xenophobic bullshit over your body. Over your right to decide for yourself. Over your autonomous power to choose. Over your education. Your child’s opportunities. Your position in the workplace. Your designated income. Your breasts. Your legs. Your heels. Your pussy.
It is impossible to turn a blind eye to Trump—his words are too scornful for that. You should care. You should really care. You should care as if your life depends on it. Because it does.
Fortunately, we have an alternative, and she’s hardly second rate.
Not only is Clinton fabulously educated with a consistent political track record, she has been an unchanging activist for women’s right and opportunities. She is on her way to achieving the greatest position of power across the entire world, something that no other woman has ever come close to doing.
Since the year 1776, the white American male has known, without a shadow of a doubt, that he can attain anything. Absolutely anything. He can build skyscrapers, he can move mountains, he can punt a football farther and harder than anyone else. He can be a father, a teacher, a CEO. He can burn everything to the ground, he can take whatever he wants, he can step on anyone else to get there. And he can serve the country in the greatest form of leadership, with the greatest worldview, as its President.
In 2008—over two hundred years after the white man established his presidential power—black men began to understand that they too had the chance to succeed at the top.
It is 2016. Women have been left behind. They are being dragged by their heels by the Donald Trumps of the world. And really, this is no surprise. Women are not treated with the respect that men are inherently granted, just because they’re men. There is no realm in a woman’s life that is prioritized to the same level as men. Not even in the stereotypical female realms of cleaning, motherhood or making her man a sandwich. Because if she doesn’t do it up to the male standard set by her male dictator, she is immediately at risk to verbal and physical abuse. She is never good enough. She will never amount to what he can, because he says so.
When is this going to change? Aren’t you tired? I haven’t been around all that long and I’m exhausted.
There has been some backlash to throwing Clinton the “women’s vote.” For these critics, voting for Clinton simply because you are a woman takes away the substance and validity of your vote. Sure, if that isn’t reason enough for you, if your descriptive identification isn’t enough, take a look back at what we’re up against. It looks like it’s true! Clinton is the women’s vote. She is the vote for women. For women’s rights. Gender aside, there are two candidates, and only one has a vision that includes women.
Furthermore, she is indeed a women and there is no denying it. Not the kind of woman you’re attracted to? A “ball buster” for you dudes that prefer internet porn? You don’t like how she dresses, maybe? Pantsuit and pearls doesn’t represent your wardrobe? I thought we were looking back at the substance here.
And finally, think about what it will mean, symbolically, to actually have a woman in the oval office. To have a leader who exercises her intelligence, experience, vision and feminist pride in running our great country. Who better to further America than the woman who has the plan to do so? What does it mean for women to finally enter this exclusive realm?
If you vote for Trump, you condone his words and his actions. You validate slanderous remarks and sexual assault. You accept his version of a “locker-room talk” apology that boys will always be boys. This is not the candidate that represents me or the world I want to live in. The incredible men in my life hold themselves accountable and act with the sole intention of respect.
Get on the right side of history and vote left. For the love of whatever god you believe in let’s get a woman in the white house and paint it pink.
I love my vagina. If you love your vagina, if there is a vagina that you love, if you give half of a shit about any one of the vaginas walking around this Earth, I beg you to vote for it in this election. My heart is broken over the possibility of this presidency. But the hate in my heart that has inspired because of Trump’s actions melts at the mere opportunity of a woman finally succeeding in a way that no woman has before. My life and the lives of the women I love and the women to come are about to be forever impacted and changed. This November, I will be voting with my vagina.
You are entitled to your voice. Entitled to your opinions and your feelings. And you can exercise that privilege this November, when you choose to cast a vote for vaginas, or a vote that says it’s okay to grab them without consent.
Contact CU Independent Opinion Columnist Dani Pinkus at firstname.lastname@example.org.