Why Trump’s Female Voters Pushed Him To Victory
Prior to the elections, Trump’s misogynist remarks about women, his 2005 tape with Billy Bush and more than a dozen women accusing him of sexual assault left us with one sure thought: there is no way that this guy is going to manage to get support from American women. So, what happened?
The results of the 2016 US Presidential elections have left most of us baffled as to how Donald Trump managed to win, but what troubles us more is how, according to CNN exit polls, he managed to get a 53% majority of white women voters.
The New York Post offers an explanation for this: the reason women leaned more towards Trump was because of their primary concern for safety. The Trump Presidency gives them reinvigorated hope and patriotism. Just his political slogan, “Make America great again”, projects optimism combined with a sense of security. People are tired of Washington’s same old policies and want somebody to shake that up. It comes down to this: the people of America want change. They want to feel safe again, and in Trump they see a man apparently audacious enough to get things done.
Here the question arises, what about women’s issues? The 53% white woman majority is more concerned with Trump’s stance on foreign policy related issues rather than how he feels about gender issues. What we see here is that this group of women seem to have simply detached themselves from the problems that other, more vulnerable groups may face on a daily basis. Just like Ivanka Trump claims to have never been on the receiving end of sexual harassment, the 53% white woman majority fail to see sexism as a big enough problem.
The primary reason for this could be that these women either don’t directly have to deal with the sexism that Trump’s statements project, or they just don’t care. After all patriarchy doesn’t only extend to men, it can as easily be internalised by women. However, women of colour seemed to have voted differently, with 94% of black women and 68% of Latino women voting for Clinton. Trump’s racial sexism had a much stronger impact on voter groups that were more prone to being subjected to its ripple effects.
The Clinton’s candidacy as a woman and it breaking through the highest glass ceiling loses its force when most women care more about what the president does for the country’s security and economy, rather than his regard for an entire gender or race.
Another important factor here is that the increased participation of women in the workforce has shifted women’s attention from problems only pertaining to their gender. Many white women are now seeing sexism as a secondary matter to America’s security. Again, this is primarily influenced by the fact that white women are still, to an extent, privileged and protected, as opposed to women of colour. This could explain why such a majority of women fail to see the lack of maturity in the candidate they chose to vote for: who not only openly hurls insults at women and their appearances but also thinks it is okay to make a menstruation jibe at a woman on national television.
It boils down to this: keeping in view Trump’s constant derogatory statements regarding women, his white women voters are split into two broad categories. The first are, on the whole, in denial and genuinely feel that Trump does, in fact, fundamentally respect women. The second, on the other hand, recognise Trump’s sexism but simply ignore it as they think his foreign and economic policies, which are their prime concerns, compensate for his sexist remarks.
Either way Trump’s victory goes to say that America is deeply hopeful that his presidency will bring about the necessary change to “Make America great again”, regardless of the toll it will take on the discrimination faced by women.