Trump's attitude to women highlights a wider problem of sexism in the GOP

By: Issy McConville, Student Voices writer

Last week, the mud-slinging between Donald Trump and his opponents reached a new low when Trump turned his attention on Heidi Cruz, wife of his closest competitor for the GOP nomination, Ted Cruz. An unendorsed poster produced by a Cruz super-pac featuring Trump’s wife Melina posing in the nude essentially slut-shamed Melina, attempting to present her as an unsuitable companion for the White House. Responding to this vile show of misogyny directed at his own wife, Trump responded by taking to Twitter to launch a similarly hateful attack on Heidi Cruz. Retweeting an unflattering image of Heidi next to an attractive photograph of Melina, Trump stated, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. 

This exchange of sexist vitriol is only the latest example of the deeply unpleasant sexist rhetoric of the Trump campaign, which has also seen Trump call Fox news anchor Megan Kelly a ‘bimbo’, and dismiss fellow GOP candidate Carly Fiorina in a Rolling Stone interview, ‘Look at that face…Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?’. It also speaks of the reality of the GOP, a Party which seems to undermine women’s rights at every turn. Most recently, Republicans on the House Investigation Committee exploring claims that Planned Parenthood sold fetal tissue for profit, have issued subpoenas to reveal the names of fetal tissue researchers, placing scientific research into diseases like cancer and the Zika virus at risk in their crusade against abortion provision. In Texas, anti-abortion legislation passed in 2014 which required abortion clinics to upgrade to hospital-level facilities has seen more than half of these clinics close. Abortions in neighbouring New Mexico have surged, with 20% in 2014 carried out on women from outside the state, crossing the border to seek the provision their own state legislature has denied them. On a grass-roots level, Obama’s Democratic administration is facing uproar from religious colleges and non-profit organisations over the inclusion of access to birth control in the healthcare plans of female employees. In each case, the interests of individual women are startlingly absent from the conservative pursuit of ‘moral’ legislation.

Unfortunately, the Republican Party has a systemic problem with women. It is shocking that in 2015 a candidate running for one of the highest political offices in the world holds such a blatantly sexist attitude, or that a super-pac considers an opponent’s wife fair game for attack. Melina’s appearance holds no relevance to the credibility of her husband’s politics, and nor does Heidi Cruz’s mental health, which has also become the subject of attack from Trump supporters. In a dispute so concerned with the appearance of Melina Trump and Heidi Cruz, the women themselves have little importance, defined simply as objects of attack, devoid of personal value.

It is particularly sad that the objectification of Melina has come also from her own husband. Cruz’s retaliation that ‘real men don't attack women. Your wife is lovely, and Heidi is the love of my life’ seems a heart-warming alternative to Trump’s misogyny, until you consider his own appalling record on issues of women’s health, which includes opposition to the public provision of abortions and the funding of Planned Parenthood.

In a nation where women make up 53% of the voting population, their representation at every level of US politics barely scratches the 20% mark. The absurd conflict between Trump and Cruz has seen harmful attitudes to women played at the top of the political spectrum, on a global stage, which casts a gloomy light on the chances for improving female representation or protecting their basic rights. While Trump may be damaged at the polls by his disregard for female voters, this is a qualifies success as the Republican Party continue to hold the House and the Senate. The fight to defend the rights of women will be a long one, with or without a Republican president. 

Meet the author:

Issy McConville
21 year student currently living in Edinburgh. Staunch feminist and Labour Party member  
Twitter: @issyymcc

Trump's attitude to women highlights a wider problem of sexism in the GOP Trump's attitude to women highlights a wider problem of sexism in the GOP Reviewed by Admin on 09:02 Rating: 5

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