Donald Trump has once again confirmed one thing we cannot deny: he will do anything to win the 2016 Presidential Election. Even if he has to slander every other candidate and their respective spouse in the process. On December 29th, 2015, Trump, during an interview with Face the Nation, said that Clinton is “constantly playing the woman card,” and went on to state that “It’s the only way she may get elected.” Trump also stated that Clinton would be a bad choice for women because of her husband, Bill Clinton, and his “frankly terrible” record with women. Because, apparently, only woman candidates are responsible for their husband’s actions.
Trump’s politics have consistently been both slanderous and extremely hypocritical. Trump claims that he will “do more for women… including the protection of our country.” However, Trump has actually had a worse track record with women than Hillary has, including calling Megyn Kelly, a reporter for Fox, a “bimbo” for asking him if he had called women ‘fat pigs’ and ‘dogs’. He also has been known to say that women hate prenups because they are “gold diggers”.
Trump’s comments about Hillary bring about an interesting position within politics. Assuming that a woman’s spouse is “fair game” should bring about the argument that every politician is tied to what their spouse has done. However, this is not the case. No one attacks Trump for his (previous) wife’s actions, no one believes Jeb Bush is a bad candidate solely because of who he is married to.
Cis men in politics, especially those who are white, are assumed to be the neutral base, the “normal” politician. When a minority politician steps into the ring, especially a woman, it is assumed that her husband speaks more about her than she does, because he is what a “normal” politician should look like.
Women should be able to talk about their subject positions in politics without being accused of playing the “gender card”. Is a woman so corrupt for speaking up for her own people? The simple truth is that, all too often, men are unwilling to speak up for women’s rights in politics. If they won’t do it, who will? Women should not be punished for speaking up for themselves. When the public uses the “women card” to slander politicians, we are left with a world complacent in the patriarchy that surrounds us and exists in law. It’s simply bad politics.
What Can We Do?
How should we overcome the popular narrative that women are “playing the gender card” when talking about their own rights? For one, we should reject the dominant media narrative that women are tied to their spouses more than cis men are, and somehow their spouses speak more for them than the candidate herself. We should also interrogate the values behind the phrase “playing the gender card,” and come to the realization that speaking up for oneself should not be punished. Trump may make a good story, but it is necessary to be critical of those who genuinely believe that a woman should be punished for breaking the patriarchal silence that is so ingrained in the political sphere.
In conclusion, Trump’s slanderous comments towards Hillary Clinton, and his linkage of Hillary to her husband as a way to bring her down is uniquely bad and breeds patriarchal sentiments in politics that mandate women to be silent about their own oppression. We should always question the dominant media narrative about women politicians, and, of course, never stop being critical of Donald Trump.
[Image Attribute: U.S. Department of State on Flickr]