As I am still trying to make sense of this incongruous election cycle, I wonder how liberals FUBARed this thing so badly. As little as two years ago, if you told any of us that a presidential candidate would espouse blatantly racist and sexist sentiment coupled with criminality and a lack of knowledge on important issues, we would have said that candidate wouldn’t make it passed the primaries. We all need to stand because Donald Trump’s election corrected all of our assumptions. However, a real surprise amidst a sea of surprises is the number of women who voted for Trump.
53% of all female white voters voted Trump. Hillary Clinton’s campaign counted on the woman vote, especially after Trump was caught on tape bragging about committing sexual assault and cheating on his wife. One would logically think this behavior would submarine his chances with women. It unequivocally did not. Many of the women who voted for him just dismissed his comments as vulgar, nothing more. These comments were simply relegated to the “boys will be boys” category. The lack of outrage and just looking the other way is just another indicator of how pervasive patriarchy still is in this country.
Grabbing someone in the genital area without their permission is sexual assault, plain and simple. Not only did Trump admit that, he gloated about being able to get away with it. This is beyond locker room talk. If men do talk about their sexual exploits, they are about consensual acts. The fact that this percentage of women could just dismiss Trump bragging about a nonconsensual act is part of the rape culture that this society is conditioned into.
As children, when a boy has hit a girl, how many times have we heard, “He just likes you. That’s all that means.” At that age, we’re already getting the message that violence and affection are connected, and we should just dismiss those acts.
How many of us have excused men who make us uncomfortable because we’re afraid of backlash? How many of us are told either verbally or nonverbally, “You were asking for it” if we are assaulted or grabbed? When defending accused rapists, attorneys immediately go to past sexual history to slut-shame an accuser. How many societies stigmatize a woman who is raped and place shame on her?
When women are educated about rape prevention, they are told: don’t put yourself in a situation. That makes total sense, but how often are men told not to rape? We constantly get inundated with messages that blame the woman for sexual harassment or assault and take accountability away from the man.
Patriarchy is how this group of women could excuse misogyny and admission of sexual assault. It is also how women could hold Clinton accountable for “lying” about Benghazi when a Republican committee cleared her of any criminal behavior. Several email probes involving a private server cleared her of any wrongdoing, but she is still considered untrustworthy. Trump, who is about to go on trial for fraud and has been accused of not paying contractors, is still trusted among these women. The list goes on. It’s not just this election. Our whole lives are filled with justifications of inequality. That is how the majority of white women could still vote for Trump.
In no way am I saying that’s the only reason that many women voted the way they did. The Left bears responsibility for alienating the entire working class, men and women. A cycle of judgment occurs on both sides. Hillary Clinton called Trump supporters “a basket of deplorables.” Although some of the Trump supporters’ acts are deplorable. That’s not the way to win voters and influence people. This comment is just a small example of what the working class has dealt with from the Left over the years. Allegations of voter suppression within your own party don’t help either.
What I am saying is patriarchy is among a list of contributing factors as to why women voted the way they did. It underlies how women are constantly taught to accept demeaning sexually aggressive behavior from men. It explains in part how women could accept misogyny and predatory sexual acts from a man who wants to lead them.
Until next time… look behind and beyond the veil...
Sameena K. Mughal, Author, Freelance Writer