At this point in the 2016 US presidential election, it’s no secret that Trump is a misogynist who regularly disparages and objectifies women, so it’s not a surprise that he is polling at dismal numbers among women voters. Although women are often treated as a special interest group, they make up 51% of the electorate, so Trump is going to need to win them over if he wants to stand a chance against the likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in November.
During a town hall with Fox News last week in Wisconsin, Melania Trump sat down with her husband for an interview with Sean Hannity. When asked whether her husband is hateful towards women, she answered:
I think he’s the man, he respects women, he hires the women on the highest positions and he trusts them and he’s the one that he will take care of them. He is the only one.
The part of this answer that floored me was the statement that Trump “will take care of [women].” It’s the same go-to line that Trump has been repeating whenever he is asked about his stances on women’s issues
At a CNN debate way back in September, Trump said about women:
I will take care of women. I respect women. I will take care of women.
A month earlier during a CNN interview, Trump said that as president he would “work hard to protect women.”
Only a couple months later at an event in New Hampshire in October, when accused by an audience member of not being good for women, Trump replied:
I’m going to take care of women, and I have great respect for women and I do cherish women.
Just this week on Fox & Friends, Trump said the following about women:
You know, I have so many women that really want to have protection from the standpoint — and they like me for that reason.
Even when he’s not outright talking about women, he still tends to bend his policies around the idea of protecting women. During his very first speech as a candidate where he announced that he was going to run for president, he said the now infamously racist line:
When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.
By specifically calling Mexican immigrants rapists and implying that under his presidential leadership these rapists would no longer be able to get into the US, he’s implying that he will be protecting women. This is certainly the way his supporters see it. Ann Coulter this week in an interview with MSNBC said “I think I’d be a lot more upset that women are going to get a lot more abortions if we don’t close our border with Mexico and bring in all of Latin American rape culture.”
He may not have said it outright, but in his statements and those of his supporters implying that his immigration policies will protect women from Mexican rapists, he’s implying that the women he is planning to protect are white women. As Jamelle Bouie laid out in a piece at Slate, there is a long and awful history of white men in the US using the threat of non-white men raping “our” white women in order to support their racists views and race-related violence. Trump’s comments about protecting white women from brown men play right into these racist fears.
Trump has no actual policy beliefs on issues that deal with women. For fuck’s sake, he cannot even decide if he is for or against abortion, changing his position four times in the span of a week.
His only policy is that he’s going to take care of women, but really just white women. The world view that Trump seems to have, that women must be taken care of by a man, explains a lot about the way he treats women, especially women in powerful positions. It’s likely he will be going up against Hillary Clinton in the general election, but for those like Trump who believe women need a man to care of them, then the idea of a female president is absurd. How is the president supposed to protect women when she is a woman herself and who is supposed to protect her if she has no man in a position above her?
This also explains why Trump always seems so confused about why women don’t seem to like him. He doesn’t actually realize that the vast majority of women do not need or want to be taken care of by a man and certainly don’t think it’s the job of the President of the United States to coddle, protect, and cherish women.
Trump, we don’t want you to protect or take care of us. In fact, the very idea of you “taking care” of me kind of makes me feel sick. We can take care of ourselves, thank you very much. It’s actually incredibly offensive for you to assume that all women are vulnerable little dolls in need of your protection. If you really want to protect us, you would do so by protecting our rights to choose how we live our lives, allowing us access to healthcare such as contraception and abortion, letting us be financially independent by closing the gender wage gap, and understanding that these rights extend to all women, which includes women of color who often need guarantees of these rights most of all. In other words, we don’t want you to protect us as women. We want you to protect our rights as human beings.