By Hannah LaChance || Contributing Writer
In recent years, it seems like there has been an increasing amount of support for the feminist movement. The word is more widely used, and more men are chiming in to give their support to the cause. This has appeared to correlate with a wider, revisited equality sentiment, even reflected in our own government. On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled to legalize gay marriage. College campuses and the judicial system have been honing in on rape culture. And most prominent of all, 2016 ushered in the possibility of the very first female president, Hillary Clinton.
From the first whisper of Hillary for president, I have been one of her most adamant supporters. I have been to two of her rallies, one in 2008 and then again in 2016, where I had the privilege of shaking her hand. When I tell people this, someone inevitably feels the need to inform me that “supporting Hillary because she is a woman is just as sexist as refusing to supporting her because she is a woman” as if I haven’t heard this before.
I continuously reply with, “I don’t support her because she is a woman. I support her because she is pro-equality and pro-women. There’s a difference.” Even with Hillary’s progressive standpoints and extensive experience in fighting for equality, many Democrats have refused to support her. Even further, many women have refused to support her. I find it hard to believe that this has nothing to do with the construction of gender in American society.
What I have found extremely interesting about this election is the dichotomy between the two candidates. Not only did the first female candidate for president lose, but she lost to a remarkably sexist candidate, in my opinion. The pro-gender equality, pro-LGBTQ+ rights, pro-reproductive rights, pro-racial equality candidate lost to the extremely backwards-thinking, anti-reproductive rights, stereotype-spouting, derogatory-name-calling candidate who has bragged about sexually assaulting women and has been accused by many women of doing so. We are clearly enduring a culture war, especially in relation to perspectives on gender. These two candidates represent the polarizing perspectives on equality. On one hand, Americans, particularly Millennials, are very progressive and idealistic in terms of equality from what I’ve observed. Another sector of the American public seems to feel betrayed by this progression and has found hope in the promise of digression that the Trump campaign symbolizes.
The biggest question I have grappled with after watching the election results is: How could a woman bring herself to vote for Donald Trump?
When Trump-supporting women are asked this question, they often try to find some justification for the anti-woman sentiments Trump has expressed or shrug it off as harmless. Trump’s campaign itself justified internalized sexism by calling his confession of the sexual assault of women “locker room talk.” I remember sitting in front of my T.V. the first time I heard this” justification” wondering how anyone could think this kind of “locker room talk” is warranted. The concept of “locker room talk” suggests that men can justifiably objectify women so long they do so in the company of other men. Even if Trump’s statements were completely false, the sentiments themselves are sexist and are reflections of the rape culture in American society. Women had the opportunity to stand up for themselves with their votes, and many chose not to.
Before the election results came in, I felt as though the majority of Americans agreed with my feminist, pro-equality sentiments. Now I realize that this is not the case. The election of Donald Trump seems to be a reflection of the true colors of the American people, calling for the hindrance of societal progression and the acceptance of internalized sexism. Now more than ever, American politics needs women’s voices to be heard. We cannot let politics continue to be the boys club it has been thus far, and we have to hold our leaders accountable for the sentiments that they preach. Hillary Clinton has done her part to break the glass ceiling, now it’s our turn, as Millennials, to shatter it.
First-year Hannah LaChance is a contributing writer. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.