Don­ald and Hil­lary: women hold the trump card

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS -

THE QUEUE out­side the Don­ald Trump rally in In­di­anapo­lis, which had started to form five hours be­fore the bil­lion­aire’s ar­rival and was now more than 100m long, fea­tured a fa­mil­iar cast of char­ac­ters. As ever at his events, there were beefy, white, work­ing­class men, tat­toos etched into their fore­arms, wear­ing ‘Make Amer­ica Great Again’ base­ball caps. There were clean-cut cor­po­rate types who looked like they were au­di­tion­ing for his re­al­ity show, The Ap­pren­tice. There were el­derly peo­ple who you could imag­ine play­ing the pok­ies in one of Trump’s casi­nos. Yet most strik­ing of all was the pres­ence of so many mid­dle-aged women, some dressed in busi­ness at­tire, some wear­ing yoga leg­gings, who you might ex­pect to see at a Hil­lary Clin­ton rally.

“I like his no-non­sense ap­proach,” said one wo­man. “Washington is ter­ri­bly bro­ken and he is the only per­son who can fix it.” The wo­man stand­ing next to her, whose young daugh­ter had come draped in a Trump ban­ner, nod­ded vig­or­ously. “He’s not your ev­ery­day, reg­u­lar politi­cian,” she said. “He’s got a whole new per­spec­tive.”

Nei­ther wo­man seemed per­turbed by a street mer­chant spruik­ing T-shirts em­bla­zoned with the slo­gan, ‘Hil­lary for Prison 2016’ – a ref­er­ence to the FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion into her use of a pri­vate email server dur­ing her years as US Sec­re­tary of State. Or that another, cruder T-shirt was also on sale: ‘Hil­lary sucks more than Mon­ica’, a re­minder of the Mon­ica Lewin­sky scan­dal that led to her hus­band’s im­peach­ment.

The prob­lem for Don­ald Trump, how­ever, as he pur­sues his dream of be­com­ing Pres­i­dent, is that many women are un­will­ing to over­look the sex­ism and misog­yny that has at­tached it­self to his cam­paign, and which he him­self has given voice to. Polls re­peat­edly sug­gest that three­quar­ters of Amer­i­can women have a neg­a­tive view of him. Given that more women vote in US pres­i­den­tial elec­tions than men, his male chau­vin­ism may well be the big­gest ob­sta­cle stand­ing be­tween him and the White House. Don­ald Trump’s misog­yny has been well doc­u­mented. “A per­son who is flat-chested is very hard to be a 10,” said the for­mer owner of the Miss Uni­verse pageant, re­fer­ring to his slid­ing scale of fe­male beauty. “You know, it doesn’t re­ally mat­ter what [they] write, as long as you’ve got a young and beau­ti­ful piece of arse,” he told Esquire mag­a­zine in 1991, when asked about get­ting hos­tile cov­er­age in the press. “Women, you have to treat them like s***,” he re­port­edly told a friend, again in the 1990s.

One of the most dra­matic mo­ments in the cam­paign so far came when Trump was chal­lenged dur­ing a

With more fe­male than male vot­ers, the US elec­tion will be in the hands of women and that is a prob­lem for both Hil­lary Clin­ton and Don­ald Trump, writes Nick Bryant.

Repub­li­can tele­vised de­bate about call­ing women “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and dis­gust­ing an­i­mals”. His re­sponse was to launch a vi­cious at­tack on the fe­male an­chor, the Fox News pre­sen­ter Megyn Kelly, who posed the ques­tion. “You could see there was blood com­ing out of her eyes,” he said after­wards. “Blood com­ing out of her wher­ever”, a com­ment which seemed to re­fer to her men­strual cy­cle.

Strong women and es­pe­cially those such as Megyn Kelly, who chal­lenge him, seem to make the bil­lion­aire even more chau­vin­is­tic. “Can you imag­ine that, the face of our next Pres­i­dent?” he said of Carly Fio­r­ina, a Repub­li­can ri­val and the for­mer CEO of Hewlet­tPackard. He once tweeted that Ari­anna Huff­in­g­ton, the founder of The Huff­in­g­ton Post, was “unattrac­tive both in­side and out. I fully un­der­stand why her for­mer hus­band left her for a man – he made a good de­ci­sion.”

Now that same vit­riol is be­ing di­rected against Hil­lary Clin­ton or “Crooked Hil­lary”, as he has taken to call­ing her. “If Hil­lary Clin­ton were a man, I don’t think she’d get five per cent of the vote,” Trump claimed, as he cel­e­brated vic­tory in the New York pri­mary, in the atrium of Trump Tower on Fifth Av­enue. “The only thing she’s got go­ing is the wo­man’s card. The beau­ti­ful thing is women don’t like her.”

I was at Trump Tower that night and saw the wo­man who was stand­ing di­rectly be­hind Trump, the wife of one of his main back­ers, roll her eyes con­temp­tu­ously. Wor­ry­ingly for Hil­lary Clin­ton, how­ever, those last four words “women don’t like her” con­tain a ker­nel of truth. The same polls that high­light the fierce fe­male hos­til­ity to­wards Trump also sug­gest that al­most six out of 10 women have an un­favourable view of Hil­lary Clin­ton. Many women, rather than be­ing thrilled at the prospect of elect­ing the first fe­male Pres­i­dent in Amer­ica’s 240-year his­tory, would ap­pear to have the same reser­va­tions as many men: that she is un­trust­wor­thy, too much of a po­lit­i­cal in­sider, not very like­able. The pro-Hil­lary sis­ter­hood is much smaller than most com­men­ta­tors an­tic­i­pated.

One of the most re­mark­able statis­tics in this ex­tra­or­di­nary elec­tion sea­son came from the first pri­mary con­test in New Hamp­shire, which Hil­lary lost to her Demo­cratic ri­val Bernie San­ders. Eight out of 10 women aged un­der 30 voted for the 74-year-old Se­na­tor rather than Hil­lary, a fem­i­nist trail­blazer who, for decades, has been in the thick of the fight for equal­ity. When Hil­lary’s ally and fem­i­nist icon Glo­ria Steinem sought to ex­plain this by say­ing, “When you’re young, you’re think­ing, ‘Where are the boys?’, and the boys are with Bernie”, it not only sounded con­de­scend­ing but de­mean­ing. It im­plied women should vote solely on the ba­sis of gen­der. Yet for many young women, not vot­ing for a fe­male can­di­date has be­come an ex­pres­sion of fe­male em­pow­er­ment.

Many young women I’ve spo­ken to on the cam­paign trail seem to be­lieve a fe­male Pres­i­dent is a his­tor­i­cal in­evitabil­ity, but they’re pre­pared to wait for some­one other than Hil­lary Clin­ton to smash through the most re­silient glass ceil­ing in world pol­i­tics.

The irony is that Hil­lary Clin­ton has placed more em­pha­sis on her fem­i­nin­ity than she did eight years ago, when she ran un­suc­cess­fully for the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion against Barack Obama. Then, she seemed de­ter­mined to show how tough and ma­cho she could be, es­pe­cially as Amer­ica’s com­man­der-in-chief. This time, she’s pro­jected a gen­tler im­age, high­light­ing, for in­stance, how she re­cently be­came a grand­mother. Yet it doesn’t seem to be work­ing.

Given women will ul­ti­mately de­cide the next Pres­i­dent and Trump has in­fu­ri­ated so many fe­male vot­ers, the road to the White House should have been a cake­walk for Hil­lary Clin­ton. Yet the for­mer First Lady also has a wo­man prob­lem as she seeks to be­come Amer­ica’s first Madam Pres­i­dent.

Above: Hil­lary with daugh­ter Chelsea, hus­band

Bill, son-in-law Marc and baby Charlotte.

Don­ald Trump may have fe­male sup­port­ers, but his of­fen­sive re­marks about women have made him un­pop­u­lar with three-quar­ters of Amer­i­can women.

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