Monday, April 10, 2017

Cult of Domesticity

I really enjoyed OC’s lecture and I loved the way that she tied together past events and the history of women’s right to vote with the most recent election.
I think the statistic that 53% of white women chose to elect Donald Trump is very surprising and slightly terrifying. After hearing this statistic I immediately starting researching Trump and some of the most horrific things that he has said regarding women. Here are a few examples:
  1. “You know, it doesn’t really matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.” — from an interview with Esquire, 1991
  2. “Like you wouldn’t have your job if you weren’t beautiful.” -Trump to a female reporter
  3. “I have days where, if I come home — and I don't want to sound too much like a chauvinist,” the Republican said, “but when I come home and dinner's not ready, I go through the roof.” -Trump during an interview with ABC News in 1994
  4. 26,000 unreported sexual assaults in the military-only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?” -Donald Trump’s tweet on May 7, 2013
  5. A video was released in which President Trump discusses grabbing women by the p**** and says that, “when you’re a star, they let you do it”.
I include all of these quotes because every single one shows President Trump explicitly degrading women and endorsing misogynistic and truthfully disgusting viewpoints of women. He consistently sexualizes them. He endorses the old fashioned idea that a woman's place is in the kitchen when he states that if he returns home and dinner is not on the table he will, “go through the roof”. He takes the blame for sexual assault off of the men in the military and instead basically says well what could we expect when we put men and women together? That comment was one of the more repulsive ones that I have read. These are just five examples, but their are countless others of Trump objectifying women, commenting on their weight or their ugliness, rating contestants based on their breast size and who he would rather have sex with, and showing absolutely no respect towards women in general.
I truly don’t understand what could drive a female to go out of her way to vote for a man like Donald Trump. I understand that a lot of women, and democrats in general, did not show up to the polls on election day. That makes sense to me. I think that those people made a grave mistake, but I understand that a lot of them truly thought that Hillary would win the election by a landslide. The fact that over half of the white women who went to the polls that day made a choice to elect Donald Trump is what shocks me.
In OC’s lecture she talked about the history behind voting and how that could come into play with why some women voted for Trump. I think the point that made the most, somewhat logical, sense to me was the refusal to accept change. Hillary presented change for America. She would have been the first woman president. She would have been a role model for all american women and she would have stood as an example to show other females that their only role is not in the kitchen. She would have been proof that females can be successful, that they can have jobs and they can have an impact and promote change, that they can fill any role that a man can fill, and that they can do it well. That much change can scare people.
The role of a woman as the caretaker of the home and the children has always been a piece of american culture. Mothers were placed on a “pedestal”, as OC said. They were respected and looked at as successful. The mothers were the ones to raise sons to become productive members of society. They kept America going by giving birth to the men of the next generation. They taught their sons to be educated men who would fulfill their civic duties. Without women to take care of the children and the home our world would go to shit. That is what people believed. That is why women were not given the right to vote because there was  no time for them to spend on politics and voting. Some women actually resented the idea of being given the right to vote. Catherine Beecher believed that it was an unreasonable request because had it been reasonable men would have already “bestowed” that right upon women. Similarly to Schlafly, Beecher stated that american women should be grateful for their, “lofty and fortunate position,” in society. White women in the upper class were the most common anti suffrage women. They were afraid of the social disruptions that could come with allowing women to vote. They were afraid of change and of potentially losing their status among society because they were in the upper class and they lived the most fortunate of lives. They were satisfied. They believed that equality would be a downgrade.
I think that Gloria Steinem stated it perfectly when she said, "I have been denied a society in which women are encouraged, or even allowed to think of themselves as first-class citizens and responsible human beings." Steinem doesn’t not buy into the Schlafly’s belief that american women are fortunate for their, “lofty,” standing in society. She is saying that women are not given opportunities to succeed and that they are discriminated against since the second they are born. Steinem also brings up the point of, “internalized aggression”. I think that this is interesting because it states that people who are constantly discriminated against or treated as second-class citizens begin to believed that they as a group are in fact second-class citizens. She provides an example of a female public school teacher who told a boy he should try to become a veterinarian instead of a doctor but when a young girl said she wanted to become a doctor the teacher offered up becoming a nurse as a more realistic example. The idea that, subconsciously, women naturally downgrade their own gender is extremely interesting to me and Steinem explained it well. She said,  “A brother, whatever his intellect, is more likely to get the family’s encouragement and education money, while girls are often pressured to conceal ambition and intelligence, to “Uncle Tom.”.” A family, including the mother, is more likely to support a male and encourage him to go to school and to study hard so that they can eventually get a financially stable job to support their family. Steinem also brings to light the myth that children need the constant care of their mother and that that is why women are the ones to stay home and take care of the children. Steinem said that american children actually suffer from, “too much mother, and too little father”. Men are often so consumed by work that they neglect their family and children. There are now laws that allow for men to take paternity leave after the birth of their child. Previously only women were allowed to do this, but as society is beginning to accept the fact that men can in fact take care of children and that women can in fact earn money for the family the working world is beginning to accommodate equal rights to take leave and care for a newly born.
Schlafly is a perfect modern day example of this. She stated that american women should stop protesting and instead focus on how lucky they are to have all of the, “special privileges,” that they have. She supported her beliefs by saying that equality would be bad for women because it would subject them to the military draft, it would cost them child support and alimony, it would remove workplace protections created specifically for women, and that it would take away from the highly respected role of mothers. She believed that she was protecting working women by opposing equality for women.
When I read the article from Schlafly I was truly confused. Her points, to me, seemed like they were coming from someone who lived in the past. I thought at first that her viewpoints must have changed, but in my research I found that she truly believed everything that she said until she died last year. She was someone who I could see voting for Trump and I can understand that there must be other white women who have similar beliefs to Schlafly and also chose to vote for Trump.
The other potential reasoning that we discussed as a class included economic reasons. The idea that maybe some women chose to ignore the disturbing side of Trump and chose to vote for him based on his other ideas or potential policies. The New York times article which surveys women who chose to vote for Trump read that you have to, “get through the bad and you focus on the good,” which is another mindset/reasoning that a lot of women expressed. Some people also believed that a lot of what Trump said was just talk and that he did not actually mean most of it. People believed he said outrageous things simply for the publicity and therefore it was easy for them to ignore his comments and focus on, “the good.”
I think that as individual beliefs and points I can understand, or at least accept, that there are people who truly buy into and agree with those things. I just can’t fully wrap my head around the idea that more than half of white women who voted chose Trump. The day after the inauguration there were millions of women, and men, walking in the women’s march all across the country. And even Trump said it in his tweet, “Why didn’t these people vote?”. Where were they all? Were the majority of those americans people that chose not to vote? Did all of them think that enough other people were going to vote for Hillary so they didn’t need to? Did a lot of them actually vote for Trump for other reasons? I don’t think we have the answers to these questions, but I think it’s fair to say that this election has truly proven the importance of each citizen’s vote. I don’t think that the thousands of democrats that chose not to drive downtown to cast their vote will do that in the next election. I don’t think that the women who didn’t vote will make that choice again. I think that the women’s march following President Trump’s inauguration was proof that we will no longer be silent. Those millions of people are ready to fight and despite dropping the ball on election day, they took a stand in January and they made a statement that they are going to keep fighting until we have equal rights across the board. This year’s election is going to make history, and the events following it will be right next to it in the next generations textbooks.

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