Jean Barker

The US war on women

2016-04-08 07:30

Jean Barker

If Donald Trumps ascendency is anything to go by, sexism is not only not dead, supporting it also makes at least 15% of Americans want to elect you president.

Trump’s willingness to discuss "punishing" women for having abortions is just one symptom of his innate misogyny. This is a guy who described his own baby daughter in terms of whether she’ll have nice legs and big boobies, and who still openly evaluates his own older daughter based on her sexual potential.

What makes this more shocking isn’t that he does it - the world is full of sick, perverted assholes - it’s that he thinks it’s okay to talk about it proudly, and that significant numbers of people adore him for doing so.

And in case you think I’m attacking men, I’m not. Sure, most of Trump’s supporters are (white) men who like to shout "USA" a lot, but that support at least makes some sense. They want to "make America great again", by which obviously they mean: "Make America white and male again". They're insecure, just like the white people who want to bring apartheid back, instead of supporting redistributive justice.

But the problem with Trump and his ilk is, some women support him, too.

Only 70% of American women have an unfavorable view of Trump, according to Gallup’s pole. That may be a majority, but you have to ask yourself: What the hell is wrong with the other 30%? That’s at least as crazily self-destructive as, say, 30% of all Jews supporting Hitler, or 30% of Muslims supporting ISIS.

The problem with sexism is that it crosses all kinds of boundaries, and that a lot of people do buy into things that oppress them, like the house-elves in Harry Potter, who inexplicably want to remain slaves. Just like men can and often are feminists, women shouldn't be, but often are, misogynists.

The laws that oppress women and remain unchanged in the USA bear this point out, because if enough women really complained, and really petitioned their congresswoman, instead of trying to get their dates to buy them dinner, some of the super-crazy laws would have been gone decades ago.

For instance, here’s your Chappies Wrapper Moment: Did you know that, in the USA, the land of the free, in 31 states, a man who raped a woman has the right to sue her for custody and visitation rights to her child? In some states, even a convicted rapist has visitation rights, but with conviction rates around 3%, of the 32% of rapes that are reported, you can imagine what hell this puts mothers through after they’ve already suffered enough. That’s just one. This is above and beyond hoops you have to jump through to get an abortion if you’re raped in, say, Texas.

I don’t really get to get on my high horse here, as a South African. Yes, we tend to have great, just laws. But we also fail to implement them. They’re shiny and new, but gathering dust because many people are so conservative, or so used to being hurt and exploited, that there’s no public demand to make sure LGBT folk, or women and children of color, are safe, or that most people have a future.

In the USA, it’s same result, different cause.

In the USA, we have plenty of enforcement, but the laws leave a lot to be desired. That’s because they’re old laws. They’re like American plumbing: old, and full of lead that makes you crazy and stupid. They’re set up to protect the kleptocracy, because for years everybody was more worried about preventing communism, than about preventing the rich and entitled from abusing everybody else.

I must be falling badly in love with the USA, because I really care about changing this stuff, or at least not letting it get any worse.

That’s why, despite my qualms about Clinton’s foreign policy, I encourage my "Bernie or Bust" friends to vote for Hilary over someone like Trump or Cruz or Kasich, whose records on women, race, climate, foreign policy and religious freedom are all far more hideous than anything you can imagine.
   

Jean earned an MFA in Directing and Screenwriting and works in the LA film industry. She tweets as @jeanbarker and blogs pictures of signs and more, here. She will be back.

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