For the past month, the topic of women has been pivotal in the potential outcome of the presidential election.
An article from The Huffington Post claims that this election isn’t about politics, it’s about how America sees women. The article states that there is a lot at stake for women in this election and that the contrast between candidates is clearer than ever. Lisa Belkin wrote an article for Yahoo that pointed out how difficult it will be for America to ignore the vast divide on such a major issue between the two candidates.
“Women are being treated so poorly in this election,” said North Carolina voter Tabitha Williams. “The only reason why women’s opinion is even being considered is because Hillary is a woman.”
Women’s vote is capable of determining the outcome of this election. According to Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics, American women are more likely to vote than men, with women voting between 4 and 7 million more times than men in the past few elections.
Of the four people I spoke with about this issue, one believed that the election as a whole could be a good thing for women.
“I’m voting for Hillary, but I’m honestly praying for America no matter who gets in the White House,” said South Carolina voter Tina Phelps. “I do like that, if Hillary wins, she will be the first woman president. Women can do just as much as men can do and they are just as strong as men.”
During WCU’s ‘Intentional Conversations’ event on Tuesday, Dr. Ingrid Bego, a professor of political science and public affairs, spoke about gender as it relates to this election. Bego called it a “major win” that this election has brought women’s issues into focus.
“Mainstream American women are starting to talk about the sexism they face on a daily basis,” said Bego.
The ongoing discussion of how women are being perceived by candidates in this election gained a lot of attention when a 2005 video from Access Hollywood was released early this month, featuring Donald Trump bragging about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with married women.
Immediately after the video was released, the backlash began. Republicans began pulling their support from Trump’s campaign and condemning him for his words.
Trump “apologized” to everyone, including his wife, about the remarks and said that he was “wrong.” He then immediately deemed the issue unimportant compared to what Bill Clinton has done. He called his words “locker room banter,” and attempted to shift the focus of America’s anger onto Bill’s history with infidelity.
On Twitter, writer Richard Hine blatantly pointed out the incongruity of Trump’s comparison.
When moderator Anderson Cooper gave Trump the chance to address his remarks during the second presidential debate, and Trump deflected. Cooper asked if Trump had ever done any of the things he described in the video, and he dodged the question entirely.
Clinton and others used the opportunity to bring up past evidence of Trump degrading women, calling them “fat pigs,” “dogs,” and “bimbos.”
Trump’s misogyny isn’t a new development. In 2013, he tweeted, “26,000 unreported sexual assaults in the military-only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?”
So, why are people acting like Trump’s remarks are especially shocking or uncommon for him?
“Trump’s been acting this way and treating women this way for a very long time,” said North Carolina voter Lesa Shelton. “What does it say about American citizens that we are just now seeing it as a problem?”
Following the release of the video, nine women have come forward saying that Trump has sexually harassed them. In the third presidential debate, Trump claimed that these allegations had been “debunked.” According to Politifact, this is an untrue statement. Though some allegations have been challenged, none have been proven false.
Despite the negative public opinion and media backlash, poll numbers remain close between Clinton and Trump. The CNN/ORC poll has Clinton up by six points and Rasmussen Reports has Trump up by two points.
On the Democratic side of the presidential race, Hillary has based a large portion of her campaign, from the beginning, on women’s rights and issues. One of her popular slogans, “women’s rights are human rights,” made a resurgence after Trump’s derogatory comments.
As the first Democratic candidate for president, it was expected that she would choose to incorporate women’s rights into her platform, but she couldn’t have predicted that her opponent would face a scandal labeling him as sexist a month before the election.
Women are expected to have a prominent impact on the outcome of this election. An article from FiveThirtyEight showed the gender gap of the national polls from October, and showed that Clinton leads Trump among women by 15 points and trails him by five points among men.
“I personally think that the election is a toss up,” said WCU student and first-time voter Brooke Andrade. “However, it astonishes me how many women are still behind Trump especially after what he has had to say about women.”
In March, FiveThirtyEight predicted that Trump’s misogyny may cost him the election and found that Republican women were more unfavorable toward Trump than to Ted Cruz, John Kasich or Marco Rubio.