Guest Column

Men just keep on Trumping women’s rights

2017-07-16 06:35
Gayle Edmunds

Gayle Edmunds

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#WomensMarch protesters resist new US president Donald Trump

2017-01-23 17:27

More than two million people around the world join women-led protest #WomensMarch on Saturday to rebuke US president Donald Trump. WATCH

Gayle Edmunds

This week, London hosted the global family planning summit, where policymakers, donors and activists came together to discuss how to ensure every woman has the right to choose if and when she wants to have a baby.

Meanwhile, in another part of Europe, US President Donald Trump was leering at Brigitte Macron, French President Emmanuel Macron’s wife, “you know, you’re in such great shape”. He then turned to President Macron and said: “She’s in such good physical shape.”

Together, the two events perfectly illustrate the pervasiveness of the commodification of women. Trump thinks what he said was a compliment because he believes that the only way a woman is validated is if a man comments on her attractiveness.

That he repeated the compliment to her husband illustrates that the world is still full of men who believe women are theirs – or are the property of another man. Trump is simply the male manifestation of why gender equality – from the pay gap to the teenager in El Salvador who was jailed last week for 30 years for murder after having a miscarriage – is still a pipe dream.

The good news from the family planning summit is that, last year, more than 82 million pregnancies, 25 million unsafe abortions and 125 000 maternal deaths were averted because 300 million women have access to contraception. The reason we all need to do more (yes, fathers, sons, brothers and husbands) is that there are still 214 million women in developing countries who want to – but don’t have access to or aren’t allowed to – use contraception to time, space and prevent pregnancy.

Women have always had far too many men policing what they do with their bodies. This control of women’s bodies is coupled with the abdication of responsibility men have towards caring for all the needs of the children they bring into the world.

Trump is an easy target – he’s a shameless bigot – but all of us should be doing more to smash any and all signs of judgements made about women and their choices.

Reproductive rights and sexual rights are forever linked – women can’t have one if they don’t have the other.

They can’t have either if men continue to think it is any of their business.

Read more on:    donald trump  |  women's rights
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