Trump, Women and the Road to Oppression
US President Donald Trump has a well-documented history when it comes to the treatment of women. However, polling records show that women voted for him despite his well-known gender and racial biases, and in many cases because of them. According to studies done by researchers, Mark Setzler and Alixandra B. Yanus, beliefs linked to racism and sexism were the key determinants for whether or not many voters supported Trump, and they were just as powerful in shaping women’s vote choices as they were for men.
A recent polling report explains:
“Among women, those with the highest levels of sexism were 54 percentage points (76 versus 22 percent) more likely to support Trump than those who expressed no sexist attitudes”.
Trump also seems to attract voters among the targets of his racial bias as well.
In May, Trump boasted to a crowd at a National Rifle Association convention that celebrity Kanye West’s endorsement had doubled his percentage of African-American supporters after a Reuters poll showed it went from 11 to 22 percent in one week. Rather than being spurred by some change in the president’s platform or message the uptick is seen to be driven by a celebrity endorsement.
According to a recent USA Today report, Trump said:
“Kanye West must have some power because you probably have saw, I doubled my African-American poll numbers. Thank you, Kanye!”
These findings in the face of the recent Kavanaugh news are disconcerting. Given the parallels we can draw based upon the increase in racial violence since Trump was elected, where it had before that been on the decline, electing a supreme court justice in the midst of numerous sexual assault allegations sends the message of tactic approval to those waiting to hear it.
Why do people support organizations that obstruct or oppress them?
According to a Psychology Today study, middle-aged women, the 2nd largest demographic to vote in favor of Trump, is also the unhappiest demographic in the country. Studies show this unhappiness is partially rooted in oppression, feeling trapped in circumstances beyond our control that cause us to blame others for our circumstances.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines “oppression” as “the state of being subject to unjust treatment or control.” This does not mean however, that people who are oppressed place themselves in this category. This aspect of oppression, the urge to believe that we’re somehow unaffected even when we categorically fit the profile, is largely overlooked in our culture.
Experts claim that if more women held positions of power in the GOP Senate caucus — or if the women senators flexed their muscles more aggressively — the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh would never have gotten so far. Yet rather than question a system we’ve come to rely upon and risk making waves, it’s easier to believe the sound bytes and follow the crowd rather than vote in alignment with our own interests, both for these senators and for their constituents.
In a recent Psychology Today article, Elliot Cohen, Ph.D writes;
“Unless we change our idea about what oppression is and can be; and, unless we take a rational, cautious, evidence-driven inventory of our assumptions, collectively as a global community, and individually as citizens, we may never come to know just how oppressed we really are, and may soon be”.
In a 9/28 New York Times article lawyer Nancy Erika Smith states,
“The limits are about actual real power, unless women really do take power in the legislature, in courts, in C-suites, in every aspect of life, unless we demand and take our share, nothing will ever, ever change. They are not going to give it to us. We have to take it.”
Yet in light of what’s currently at stake, it’s more important than ever that we do.