What Is It Like To Be A Woman In Trump’s America?
On July 4, I chatted with Dena Ryness on her radio show Divas Up North which is based out of Manchester, England. The topic of my segment was on what it’s like to be a woman in Trump’s America.
This is probably going to come as a surprise but the word I would use to describe what it’s like to be a woman in Trump’s America is “inspiring.” There are other words—terrifying, infuriating, frustrating, etc—but these words, these feelings, are secondary. First and foremost I feel inspired. Emily’s List, which tracks Democratic pro-choice female candidates in the United States reports that in 2017 over 15,000 women are ready to run and more than 7,000 people have signed up to help. By comparison, Emily’s list reports 900 women were running for office in the 2016 election cycle. There are hundreds of Indivisible huddles going on in homes across America—mostly organized by women. Female politicians like Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris have publically pushed back against some of the most powerful men in the country. Stacey Abrams became the Georgia’s first female governor. So while there are a lot of scary things going on, there is also a lot of organizing and push back. That should give us all reason to hope.
But of course there are some issues particularly relevant to women that I’ve been keeping an eye on…
The House Healthcare Bill, American Health Care Act (ACHA) which passed through the House went to the Senate for approval. The Senate is now working on their version of the bill to present for a vote after the July 4th recess. Women in America are justifiably nervous about this bill—which hasn’t been written yet. The scariest part is the lack of women involved in writing it. The House version, and likely the Senate version, removes federal protections for people (mostly women) and leaves room for states or insurance companies to write in rules that limit coverage. These rules could make rape a pre-existing condition, not include maternity coverage, or limit prescription drug coverage. The new bill could also cut federal funding for Medicaid which would impact who is eligible for Medicaid. This would disproportionately affect women as there are many more women than men on Medicaid. There have also been threats that the bill would cut funding to Planned Parenthood where a lot of women get basic healthcare including well-woman visits, cervical cancer screenings, STI testing, and contraceptives. While we don’t know what the Senate bill will look like yet, it is terrifying that these discussions are even happening—and happening largely without the input of women.
The fear of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) hasn’t been as high as it is now in decades. Entire cities are rebelling against the blatant racism of Trump’s immigration efforts by developing “sanctuary” policies. These policies vary by municipality but generally state that local law enforcement won’t engage in immigration enforcement. Despite these effort people are being rounded up and deported in appalling situations. Mothers who have children who were born in America are being deported after living here for years, sometimes decades. They are faced with the choice to leave their children in someone’s care in the US (as their children are US citizens) or taking them back to a country they have no network in and may not be safe. Fathers who are financially supporting an entire family are being deported leaving single mothers here in the US struggling to support and raise their children. Children live in fear of going to school because ICE might be waiting to pick up their parents as they drop their child off.
Ivanka as a working mom is incredibly misleading and minimizes the struggles of working moms who are not billionaires. Mom’s in America aren’t guaranteed paid maternity leave. They are often asked how they juggle being a mom and their career—a question rarely posed to fathers. Daycare is unbelievably expensive and often costs as much as a mom making minimum wage brings home.
Police violence has continued (as it has since the establishment of our country). Charleena Lyles, a 30 year old pregnant black woman in Seattle, Washington called 911 when she thought her home was being burglarized. When the police arrived she was holding a knife (as many of us would if we thought our home was being invaded) and the police shot and killed her. A jury failed to convict Bill Cosby of sexual assault and he is now planning to hold trainings for young and married men to teach them how to avoid sexual assault allegations. I’d prefer he hold trainings on how not to commit sexual assault. Our president continues to make sexist and cruel remarks about women’s looks. Hate crimes are on the rise and of course sexual assault is rampant and goes largely unchecked.
That being said…
So obviously there are some terrifying things going on right now in America but I have to be really honest… many of these things were going on long before Trump came into the picture. The favor that he has done us is that because he is not able to finesse his bigotry, it is impossible to ignore. The anger at his openly supremacist, nationalistic, and misogynistic agenda has mobilized a lot of people. The left, especially the privileged left, are being forced to have conversations we have needed to have for a long time. These conversations are about who we are standing up for and supporting and why.
“Women’s Issues” are no longer exclusively healthcare, paid family leave, or abortion issues. Women are slowly but surely taking on a variety of issues that affect some women even if the issue doesn’t immediately affect them. Immigration for example is an issue that women who are not immigrants are paying more attention to. The idea that we should not fight oppression because we are not direct victims of it is a dangerous notion. “First they came for the immigrants and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t an immigrant” is a good way to repeat history. It’s why I care about immigrants even though I’m a citizen and it’s why women listening to a radio show in Manchester, England care about women in the United States even though they’re in England.
Article by Claire E. Ryder
Director of Refugee and Immigration Affairs
Women's March PA