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Misogyny in the 'Time' of Donald Trump

Neha Poonia

Updated: December 16, 2016, 5:25 PM IST
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Misogyny in the 'Time' of Donald Trump
A file image of Donald Trump looks at a mask of himself as he speaks during a campaign rally in Sarasota, Florida. (REUTERS)
Stories from the world of gender you missed this week

By now, there’s little doubt and more than enough irrefutable proof of Trump’s misogyny and sexism (the exalted virtues which won him the election) but just in case you have been living in ignorant bliss for the last few months, here’s more proof.

Trump’s cabinet has sounded the death knell of equality in American politics. Much like his campaign rhetoric, his handpicked group of ministers (if confirmed) will be an all-white male melee of mostly billionaires- barring two women. Unsurprisingly, all the top positions have been given to white males- a feat the US has not witnessed in 27 years.

The American President-elect has in the past called all women ‘gold-diggers’, joked about dating his own daughter, spoken about ‘grabbing women’ by their genitals- the list is endless which is why, the all-boys club masquerading as his Cabinet is no surprise. However, in his dedicated pursuit of taking the world back to the medieval ages and eliminating all notions of a gender equal world- Trump this week expressed his displeasure with Time Magazine for awarding him the ‘Person of the Year’ award. What could he possibly have an issue with, you ask?

Well, Trump would like it very much if Time went back to calling it 'Man of the Year' like they did until 1999. Now remember, ‘no one respects women more than’ Trump does but clearly that assertion doesn’t extend to actually thinking that any woman qualifies to win this honour. This was also, in typical Trump-speak, another way of reminding the world that he is very very masculine- a macho man who doesn’t want to be included in the same category as women.

But honestly, maybe Time should go back to calling the honour ‘Man of the Year’. After all, since 1999, only one woman has won this laurel (the hardy Angela Merkel in 2015) but also because according to the magazine, the US election and its results ‘did not hinge on gender at all’.

Actually Time Magazine, this election was about two things: racism and (as much as you’d like to deny it) gender.

The man who called women pigs, labeled breast-feeding disgusting, and has been accused of sexual assault so many times I’ve lost count- won the election because he peddled misogyny shamelessly; and men and 53% of American women bought it.

Trump’s entire narrative was gendered. From raising questions about Hillary’s stamina to blaming her for Bill Clinton’s infidelities (Trump thinks Bill cheated because Hillary ‘couldn’t satisfy him), Trump did everything he could to tell America that a woman was unfit to run the country.

The America that he wants to make great again will also be one where he wants to ban abortions and punish women who want to terminate their pregnancies and a country where women are denied access to birth control.

Aborting unequal medical access

While America (thanks to Trump) is mulling going back to the Dark Ages, Indian women may soon see the dawn of pro-choice health policies.

The Health Ministry has floated a proposal to make abortion legal for single women. The ministry wants ‘failure of contraceptive’ to be recognized as a lawful reason for abortion irrespective of a woman’s marital status. Not only will this give an unmarried women unfettered agency over her body and reproductive choices, it could also usher in a tectonic ideological shift. By granting legitimacy to the sexually active, unmarried Indian woman, the government is also helping challenge the taboo associated with unmarried sex. This crucial amendment first needs the Cabinet’s nod and then the Parliament’s assent before it can become a law.

Here’s why our MPs need to pay close attention and why time is of the essence. If approved, the amendment will also help save many lives. India Spend reports that at least 10 million women secretly undergo abortions in India every year and as per health ministry records- a woman dies every five minutes during childbirth.

Gendered Mutilation

Female Genital Mutilation- one would assume this is a practice carried out only by barbaric tribes in Africa. Women from the Dawoodi Bohra community in India want you to abandon that misconception. They want the United Nations to recognize India as a country where this savage act is carried out even in the 21st century.

FGM, also called female circumcision, is the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical purposes. It’s a procedure that is carried out on young girls, often by unqualified medical practitioners- mostly without anesthesia and in complete secrecy. In most cultures, it is done to curb sexual desire in women.

In December 2012, the UN General Assembly adopted a unanimous resolution on the elimination of FGM- an act that is banned in over 20 countries in Africa but not in India.

A petition, with over 80,000 signatories, demanding the government outlaw the practice and punish anyone involved in aiding, abetting and perpetrating it was submitted to Union Health Minister Maneka Gandhi in 2015 but there has been no movement by the government to that effect.

Nasty Women Breaking Rules

And finally to close this week, watch the ageless Madonna- a self proclaimed nasty woman- speak out about sexism she’s faced in her 34 year old career.
‘I stand before you as a doormat. Oh, I mean, as a female entertainer.’ Madonna started her speech at the US Billboard's Women in Music 2016 event with these hard-hitting words. She was Billboard's Woman of the Year.

First Published: December 16, 2016, 4:28 PM IST

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