Donald Trump’s preferred method of ingratiating himself with women infamously involved grabbing them by their private parts .
Women preferred to grab him by the ballot. Women, especially black women, were instrumental in his defeat, with early exit polls indicating just 42pc of women, versus 53pc of men, voted for Trump.
Always a fan of hurling insults, Trump derided women as “fat pigs”, “dogs”, “slobs” and “disgusting animals”, but women turned Trump into what he detests the most – a loser. Worse than that, a bad loser who refuses to admit defeat, even if that failure foments a violent insurrection.
Four years of his presidency did incalculable harm to women’s rights. A further four would have been catastrophic.
The most glaring example of Trump’s erosion of women’s rights has been his efforts to curtail and diminish reproductive rights. Throughout the 2016 election campaign, Trump promised to appoint federal judges to do just this, but not even he could have anticipated how successful he would be in this regard.
In just four years, Trump managed to appoint three justices to the Supreme Court, the latest of whom, Amy Coney Barret, was installed just days before the election. His legacy is a conservative supermajority on the court, which has huge implications for women’s reproductive rights for decades.
There has already been a judgment from the newly constituted court to whittle away those rights. Last week it ruled women could no longer have the abortion pill posted to them by their medical practitioners, a measure that was introduced last May in response to the pandemic and the risks entailed from travelling.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who will swear in Kamala Harris as vice-president today, in her dissent, noted the FDA regulates 20,000 drugs in America, but just one is required to be picked up in person. The one that’s exclusively used by women.
Not content to attack reproductive rights in the United States, one of Trump’s first acts as president was to block all foreign aid for international healthcare organisations unless they agreed not to promote abortion – a measure every Republican president since Reagan signed into law and every Democrat rescinded.
However, Trump significantly expanded the reach of this ban, so NGOs that even discussed abortion, or advocated for abortion rights generally, would be denied funding. This draconian diktat applied to all of the United States’ $10bn (€8.2bn) in global health assistance, multiples of the €495m in funding that fell under the ban in previous years.
The implications of this “global gag rule” did not just extend to abortion services in some of the world’s poorest countries. It impacted HIV testing, cancer screening, maternal health services and educational programmes on child marriage and human trafficking.
Not content with attacking women’s reproductive health, Trump’s Department of Justice published new guidance in 2018 which diluted the legal definition of domestic violence. Under Obama, the definition had expanded to include forms of non-physical violence like psychological abuse and coercive control. Trump’s administration excised these forms of abuse from the definition, thereby reducing the protections available to women.
Similarly, Trump’s administration also introduced new regulations, governing the manner in which universities investigated sexual assault complaints, which redefined sexual harassment in the narrowest way possible. Not only was the definition of sexual harassment itself gutted, the onus on colleges to investigate complaints was also reduced.
The purpose of these revised guidelines was not to ensure a comprehensive complaints process, but rather to reduce the number of complaints. The administration boasted that the revised guidelines would save universities between €270m and €337m over the next decade – a saving accrued due to an inevitable reduction in the number of investigations.
When Trump signed a Covid relief package into law in March 2020, it included a requirement for employers to provide paid leave to employees impacted by the crisis. The measure would have provided 12 weeks paid leave if an employee’s child’s school was closed. It didn’t last long. Within a few weeks, new guidance was published which afforded employers so many exemptions that the mandate became virtually useless.
Perhaps that is partly the reason that, in December, of the 140,000 jobs that were lost to the economy, all of the jobs were lost to women. Every single one. In total that month, the first time in eight months there was a dip in jobs, women lost 156,000 jobs while men gained 14,000.
The most despicable of Trump’s attacks on women have been those on immigrants and women of colour, many of whom have been victims of the barbaric immigration policy of family separation at the border. More than 3,000 children were separated from their parents at Trump’s insistence in 2017 and 2018. Today, hundreds of those children have still not been reunited with their parents – as the Trump administration has no idea where they are. In many cases, they deported them without their children.
It is unsurprising that a man who speaks about women in such coarse terms, and was himself accused of sexual assault by scores of women, would not be a champion of women’s rights. But his determination to dismantle rights that were hard won, under previous administrations, was galling to witness.
Trump, for all his braggadocio, revealed himself over the course of his four-year term to be a pathetic little man with a glass ego, that shattered at the mildest provocation.
It is with great satisfaction that we can all now say: “Trump, you’re fired.”