Yesterday, the United States of America elected its 45th president. After a historic election filled with mudslinging, negativity and record low disapproval ratings, Donald J. Trump emerged victorious. Women were predicted to be the deciding vote in this election, but data collected from last night shows that Hillary Clinton’s rhetoric did not have quite the impact on this demographic that she was hoping for. Instead of shattering the glass ceiling, she realized the polarizing effect her campaign rhetoric actually had on women voters, sending many over to Trump’s camp.
Despite her loss, she still made sure to address women in her concession speech. She thanked the women that had supported her saying that nothing made her prouder “than being their champion.” She also addressed young girls, empowering them to live in the confidence that they are “deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your dreams.” Her tone of the entire was much more approachable than it had been during any part of the campaign. Donald Trump’s acceptance speech was also much softer spoken than any previous speech he had given. Now that the election is over, it is interesting to look at the shifts in the campaign.
This battle began with the argument of one candidate being unstable and one candidate being untrustworthy. Surrogates like Michelle Obama shifted that argument to being good vs. evil. Finally, the campaign rhetoric created two groups, the deplorables and the nasty women, as Ana Navarro would say, who hashed it out in the polls. Both of these rhetorically created groups were depending on women, but in the end, Trump’s campaign for change to pulled enough women to his side despite the misogynist language he used.
Ana Navarro said today on The View that the U.S. has stepped through the looking glass to enter Wonderland, and that we are now sitting across from Alice herself. I’d have to agree with her. This election has been nothing short of crazy, and the response from women voters has ranged from celebration to heartbreak. I think the media’s involvement in this election combined with the gloom and doom rhetoric of the campaign has resulted in a frenzied electorate of women voters. I think that the group will become more polarized in the future as a result of the divisive language in this campaign. However, I also think that the rhetoric could result in a major feminist movement similar to the one Susan B. Anthony led many years ago. The women of America are strong willed and powerful, always fighting for what they believe in, and regardless of political affiliation, I think that this election has spurred them on to keep fighting for the future they want in America.
Politics are dominated by men. Out of the 535 members of Congress, 445 are men. Similar men to women ratios can be found in a variety of fields like finance, business and technology services. With equality movements and modern feminist thought permeating our society more than ever, these ratios may seem like they should be antiquated statistics, so what is holding women back from having more power in government or higher positions in the business world? A 2015 study would say that it’s because women seeking power are held to much higher standards than men seeking power. Being just a week away from a new president that may be a woman, this notion has been proven over and over throughout the 2016 campaign for the presidency.
Hillary Clinton has been a politician for decades. She has connections, an established presence, foreign affairs experience, served as Secretary of State, and has been a First Lady; the list could go on and on. Donald Trump has never held political office, divided his own party, and used some of the foulest and derogatory language that has ever been used in a campaign, and yet he has held his own in the polls. The argument can be made that this is because Trump’s success is because he represents a constituency that has legitimate concerns and fears for our country that they feel Trump can fix, which is a completely valid. However, I think is also largely a gender issue.
Trump has structured his argument against Clinton to pit all of her vast experience against her. Despite her accomplishments, Trump has been able to turn Hillary into what one report calls “the single most scrutinized, parsed, vetted, investigated, attacked and plaudited non-incumbent to ever seek the presidency.” Trump has had even more advantage in constructing his argument because of Clinton’s email scandal. This incident has allowed Trump to press the rhetorical argument that Clinton is untrustworthy, but rhetorically this holds more weight because Clinton is a woman. Trump has demonstrated that for a man running as president to stand in front of the camera and lie to the American electorate is an acceptable occurrence, expected even, but for a woman to do the same is seemingly despicable and even bad enough to keep her from holding political office.
Clinton’s surrogates have been trying to reverse Trump’s rhetoric with their own. President Obama recently gave a speech where he implied that men that don’t vote for Clinton are sexist, which is a strong use of rhetorical implication that is not based on any concern for political policy. Regardless of how successful her surrogates are, I think that these gendered expectations will be reflected in the results of the election. I think that it is fair to say that if Hillary loses it will very likely be because as a woman she is held to a higher standard than Donald Trump ever will be. I don’t think he would have come so far if that weren’t the case.
At first glance, the role of the first lady has drastically changed over time. Until women like Eleanor Roosevelt and Lady Bird Johnson, the role was ceremonial at best, but when examined closely, has that role really changed even with the rise of gender equality and feminism? For the last eight years, even Michelle Obama, the poster child of the “modern woman” and brilliant lawyer that was a superior to the future president of the United States, has not been able to expand that role. When Hillary Clinton attempted to expand the role of the first lady as a political advisor to her husband in the late 1990s, she faced backlash, and over time she backed down from such an active role. It is not until now that the United States may have its very first First Gentleman that the role may be forever changed for all future first ladies.
Hillary Clinton has already had a difficult enough time creating and navigating the rhetorical script a female presidential candidate of a major political party should use, and Donald Trump has had an equally difficult time responding to that script in appropriate ways. In this election, the gendered scripts and roles of not only the president may change, but now the role of first lady/gentleman may change as well. If the genders of these roles are reversed then how does that change the expectations of that office? If Donald Trump were to win the election, surely Melania would do everything previous first ladies have done: host state dinners, run charities, appear ever faithful to her husband. However, if Hillary Clinton wins, Bill Clinton will not be found picking out entrees for guests and new drapes for his bedroom. He will be right alongside his wife working on economic policy. Having a first gentleman could very well remove many of the expectations that belong to the spouse of the president of the United States.
Rhetorically speaking, I think that a first gentleman will change the gendered language that is used in presidential elections in the years to come, and I think the media will play a big role in that. Especially since this election has focused on sexism and gender equality so much, I think that many media outlets are desperate to appear more egalitarian and I think that four years of a woman president and a first gentleman would allow them to do just that. Though the actual jobs will still be the exact same, the change in rhetorical scripts and expectations will change so dramatically that I think the roles have the potential of being gender neutral, especially if the liberal media encourages that. I think that if that happens, every first lady in the 21st century and beyond will have more power and opportunity to work and be a policy maker in a way no previous first lady has been able to do so.
In a blistering speech given last week in New Hampshire, Michelle Obama gave the best surrogate speech the Hillary Clinton campaign has seen to date. The First Lady spoke for 25 minutes, and did not utter the name “Donald Trump” a single time. Instead, she just referred to him as “Hillary’s opponent” and let her audience fill in the blanks. Despite not using his name, Obama structured her argument to specifically pit women against Trump by shifting the entire narrative of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. For Michelle Obama this is no longer an election for change or consistency. This is an election between good and evil.
Obama alluded to the comments Trump made about sexually assaulting women and then juxtaposed them with the past successes of women in American history, saying that again it is time to “roll up our sleeves, and get to work.” She begged her audience to again become women warriors, fighting for decency and morality by voting for Clinton on November 8th. She made it clearly known that women in states like New Hampshire were the deciding vote for her husband in 2012, and further empowered her audience saying “women have all the power they need this election,” to win the election.
Obama gave her audience an outline of a picture of Donald Trump and let her audience color in damning traits like weak, degrading, and morally indecent without once using one of those terms. In doing this, took a note right out of Trump’s playbook. Obama “otherized” him by pointing out characteristics that portray him as a candidate that cannot be both for America and for women. Trump has done this countless times in the campaign talking about Muslims and other minorities that he excludes with his rhetoric.
The day after Obama’s speech, Hillary Clinton appeared on The Ellen Degeneres Show supported her most effective surrogate. Her appearance confirmed what Obama said, again restructuring the argument to be Trump versus women instead of new leadership versus change. I think the implications of this partnership between Obama and Clinton are devastating for the Trump campaign. Trump is still floundering for women supporters, and without women surrogates, he is not likely to recover. It is incredibly apparent that women will decide this election, and women surrogates are more important for both campaigns now more than ever. They will be the ones that influence the most women electorate, and they will be the ones to decide this election.
Since tapes of Donald Trump making predatory comments about women were released over the weekend, the businessman turned politician has faced crippling backlash. Trump has been on the defense in an attempt to control the damage and repair his image, largely in the eyes of women voters. Though Hillary Clinton has not made many comments on the tapes, these events have largely played to her favor, and she has taken the opportunity to use Trump’s biggest weakness against him with more force than ever.
-Image from The Star
Trump has utilized multiple strategies to try to reconcile with woman voters. Almost immediately after the tapes were released, he offered an apologia, choosing to differentiate between what most people are calling “sexual assault” from “locker room talk.” This stance has received massive push back as men, especially athletes, have used social media to point out to Trump that his comments were not permissible.
Women have also used social media to make known how Trump’s apology meant nothing to them, and how his “locker room talk” sounds a lot more like rape culture to them. Internet personality, Kelly Oxford, tweeted about her experience with sexual assault and encouraged other women to tweet her their experiences using the hashtag #NotOkay. Thousands of tweets poured in recounting horrific accounts of women being sexually assaulted, which for Trump equates thousands of lost votes to his opponent.
Other women, like actress America Ferrera, have also taken a stance to donounce “locker room talk” spearheading the twitter movement #pussygrabsback. The actress also tweeted a picture of a map projection created by Nate Silver that showed what the electoral college would look like if Trump received no support from women. The result? 100% blue states which again proves just how important women will be in determining this election.
Trump is still trying to recover from this devastating blunder since his attempts at apologizing and differentiating sexual assault from locker room talk have been largely ineffectual. As the leaked tapes were the dominating topic of the first portion of the debate, Trump was forced to use the debate to rally his home base, especially Republican women, as opposed to expanding his voter pool. During the debate, Trump relied heavily on the women who claim to be sexual assault victims of Bill Clinton to restore credibility among women voters. This has not seemed to have had much of an impact for a majority of voters, conservatives included. Though Hillary Clinton has not made many comments on the tapes, these events have worked in her favor. She has recently released ads that portray Trump as misogynistic and womanizing, which in light of the leaked tapes, have been even more powerful.
Moving forward, I think this will have a devastating impact on Trump’s campaign. I’m sure that a percentage of Republican women will vote for him no matter what he says or does, but I think that the majority of the demographic as well as independents will be driven to vote for Clinton. I don’t think Nate Silver’s projection will come true because I don’t think Clinton is capable of winning all 50 states, however I think that the role of women in this election will be to decide the vote, as well as to take a stand in renouncing rape culture.
One thing that both avid supporters and outspoken critics of Donald Trump can agree on is that he has a knack for saying things average politicians do not, or should not say. Supporters see this is as a good thing, saying that this effectively portrays the narrative of a trustworthy outsider giving him fresh perspective on how things should be run in Washington. Critics say this anti-politician, off-the-cuff language makes him appear incompetent and unfit for the presidency. Wherever your opinions lie on the matter, it is interesting to analyze some of these remarks especially in regard to what he has to say about women.
– image from Salon
Trump has constantly been referred to as womanizing and misogynistic from the outset of his campaign, which has had a profound negative impact in the polls since women will be incredibly important in determining this election. The argument could be made that they may be the most crucial demographic in this election. Hillary Clinton has driven millions of women, both Democrat and Republican, to her side with her careful rhetoric; Trump’s less restrained rhetoric has driven women away by the masses, which is something Trump campaigners have desperately tried to rectify.
I googled the word “sexism,” and, unsurprisingly, the first thing to come up was the definition. More interestingly though, the second thing to come up was an image and an article about Trump. Maybe this was coincidence, or because the author used really great key words for search engines, but regardless, it is shocking for a presidential candidate to be so closely linked to such a huge societal problem that he be the first thing to follow the definition. In light of this, I think that this election has major implications for how sexism will be handled after the election. I do not think that either candidate will effectively be able to end sexism in one term; I don’t think anyone could. However, I do think that when women go to the polls, the candidate they vote for will reflect whether they want the issue to be dealt with proactively or reactively.
While some women are appalled by the language Trump uses, others couldn’t care less. One source reported a woman saying “He’s all-inclusive. He will offend everybody equally,” which she seemed to find endearing, which offers an interesting perspective into the mind of the demographic that will largely decide the vote. For those that do not find such qualities appealing, Trump’s staff has been working damage control, largely spear-headed by Ivanka Trump who has appeared in several ads advocating for her father’s character and his view toward women. Moving forward, I think we can expect to see many more attempts cater Trump’s rhetoric to not marginalize women.