Trump and perpetual sexism in the United States


By Alexandra Swanson

Last week, I was having dinner with a close friend, and I asked him for his definition of a feminist. He responded, “a complainer.” He went on to clarify that he believes that men and women have equal opportunities today in America.

That’s true, at least legally.

It might seem to some that since Hillary Clinton is favored to win the Democratic Presidential Nomination, sexism is not an issue in the United States.

A large portion of Americans even believe sexism is no longer a contemporary issue. performed a poll and reported that almost a fifth of respondents believe that gender bias does not exist in the United States.

While Clinton’s popularity in the polls and her commitment to gender equality may be indicative of a critical step towards a post-sexist America, it’s imperative to remember that Donald Trump is also running, and he’s doing quite well.

He is leading by as much as 13 points in recent polls for the 2016 Republican Presidential Nomination.

It would therefore be safe to assert that Trump’s ideologies are embraced to some extent or at the very least, tolerated by many Americans.

When we elect a person as President of the United States, we also put their ideas, biases and opinions in office. Those opinions affect the future legislation and culture of this country.

Therefore, disjunct from either support or opposition to Trump’s political platforms, his substantial following serves as damning evidence of sexism’s existence in the United States.

On August 6, Fox TV Host Megyn Kelly asked Trump to account for his numerous derogatory comments toward women in the Republican debate.

As marked by Kelly, Trump has made several remarks disapproving of women’s body weights. On his reality show, The Apprentice, he said one of his female participants would look “pretty on her knees.” Further, Trump admitted to calling a woman publicly breastfeeding disgusting.

Later on, Trump commented that Kelly, “had blood coming out of her eyes; blood coming out of her…wherever,” when she questioned him during the debate.

Undoubtedly, that comment is malapropos; further, it’s sexist. To imply that a woman’s menstrual cycle likely impaired her ability to debate reasonably is to also imply that a woman’s biological make-up is an intellectual disadvantage and that women are intellectually less-than. That is clear-cut gender prejudice.

Yet, his candidacy remains hugely popular, even with the nearly axiomatic consensus that his comments are frequently sexist, as well as with Clinton’s accusation that Trump is a participant in the war on American women.

It therefore appears that many citizens are untroubled by the possibility of electing a candidate who, by public perception at least, appears to be somewhat sexist or someone at the very, very least who has no qualms about being perceived as sexist.

Similarly, many citizens apparently believe that sexism no longer is an issue in this country.

Yet, the numbers are incontrovertible.

Women are still paid 77 cents on the dollar. Women face much more sexual assault and harassment, often in either domestic or professional settings. There is also an enormous gender achievement gap in a variety of professional fields, academic test scoring, and school performance, particularly in STEM fields.

So many little girls are taught, as they grow up, to take care of their appearance, to love the color pink and eventually go into nurturing professions such as teaching or nursing.

I find it almost impossible to consider that societal mindset is not factoring into the immense gender gap — and these ideas are perpetuated by comments such as Trump’s.

So certainly, I believe that sexism is present in American society. However, I think Donald Trump’s success with America opens up another troubling notion: Sexism may be popular.

If you happen to love and embrace Trump’s political platforms — although it does seem as though his position is almost exclusively immigration reform — that’s absolutely your prerogative.

I simply find it concerning that so many Americans, men and women alike, feel comfortable electing a candidate who makes sexist comments and refuses to apologize for them to the highest political office in the United States.

Even more than I find it concerning, I find it to be conclusive evidence that gender prejudice indeed exists in America today. In fact, it’s doing quite well in the polls.

Alex is a senior in LAS.
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