If someone told me that life is going to be tough for a man who insulted, debased and demeaned women; that a man with who had sexual assault charges against him would pay through his teeth, I’d be very confused right now. With Donald Trump now the 45th president of the US, we here in Pakistan are having a tough time grappling with the challenge of protecting women’s rights, if in a strong democracy like the US, insults are seemingly rewarded, not punished.
Men talk down on women when they are among men, perhaps everywhere. Trump has however taking what he deems as locker room talk and will make it transcend to his policy. Three things are particularly problematic. First, his velvet coated hammer on sexual assault. In a tweet he said that many sexual assaults in the US military happen when you put men and women together. Suggesting perhaps that assaults of this nature that mostly go unreported are inevitable. As a leader, a zero tolerance policy is what ought to be defined. Instead he almost condoned assaults, which we will likely see increase in his term. The second is his stance on abortions. He initially, in 1999, said he was pro-choice but later changed his mind and said he will not sanction late-term abortions. Women everywhere around the world, have to be able to make choices that impact their life and the life they make inside them — not an orange haired man addicted to “doing what you want to women.” Third, with date rape, domestic violence and online harassment as common as it is in the US, what he deems as locker room talk only perpetuates it at a policy level. Law enforcement looks the other way. The judiciary soft paddles. New laws protecting women take a backseat and the economy takes precedence.
This is a travesty, the Trump victory, because it not only defines how deep-rooted the white supremacist sentiment of the West really is but also defines how forgiving America is of the inherent debasement of women’s status in society by a man who will soon take an oath to protect them all — the Hispanic woman, the single mom; the marginalised black woman; the debt-buried college student and the poor women living on food stamps.
If the republican policy status quo is anything to go by he would probably not continue to enforce executive actions on campus sexual assault nor or support a policy on childcare that impacts low income families disproportionately. His record for speaking up for transgender individuals is also not that great.
Pakistanis are being smug. They are saying no Pakistani would get away with trash-talking about a woman publicly. I disagree — we have more vile women-centred conversations. It is in our lexicon, perfectly acceptable and commonplace. They are also being smug because we twice elected a woman Prime Minister and the US didn’t.
Benazir Bhutto was all charisma and leadership. She played her hand so well that it was clear that she transcended dynastic politics. That, gentlemen is what got her elected twice. Shall I remind you of how she met her end? We won’t feel so great when Trump’s foreign policy affect us — the policy which is only a product of the race card, disgusting as it is, that he played domestically. Expect chaos in the India-Pakistan equation. Expect visa scrutiny increasing. Expect a foreign aid policy that is not nuanced and people-centred. Expect less support in the coming years as we let China play lead investor. Expect a move away from everything that has been invested in the US-Pakistan relationship.
Someone like Trump can only recede when it comes to collaboration and integrated efforts especially with a country that wears Islam on its sleeve. Strangely when demagoguery sets in, women everywhere are the first to pay for it.