President of the United States Donald Trump managed to break many taboos both in domestic and foreign policy. However, his view on feminism and gender issues is extremely conservative.
This is the view of the macho-politician, who is nostalgic for the idealised picture of the 1950s. In it, the father of the family brought a juicy piece of bacon, returning home from work, where an obedient housewife was waiting for him.
Intentionally demonstrated by Trump, an exemplary-populist attitude to the gender issue allows us to understand on what social moods the modern populism is based on and how to cement its power.
Populism is impossible without a charismatic leader, with a simple, sometimes even vulgar language, not only does not harm the image but is also welcomed by voters. During the election campaign, Trump did not restrain himself in expressions, and his sexist statements are difficult to enumerate. The lack of political correctness became a token - and suddenly it was discovered that a significant mass of the population suffered from Obama's pressure from the inability to call things by their proper names!
Society was made subject to the Trump’s populism, mixed on xenophobia and hatred.
Although there are a lot of indignant of this behaviour – more than 2.5 billion people took part in the "women's marches" before the inauguration of Trump. This has probably become the largest public action since the protests against the war in Vietnam. Demonstrators claimed the right to abortion, sexual minorities, sexual and racial equality, fighting police violence against black people.
Populism is also impossible without the presence of an enemy – internal, in the first place.
Populist politicians build social barriers on the basis of class, gender, race, national differences. Proclaiming that they protect the interests of ordinary Americans, they at the same time staff their administrations with white men – representatives of the financial and military elite. If the rise of right-wing populist forces in the US and other countries is not an attempt to preserve the privileges of precisely these groups, then what?
These generalisations are all the more interesting because the wave of populism brings up not only men but also women politicians. Before the upcoming elections in France, everyone has heard the name of the Chairman of the National Front Marín Le Pen. But Frauca Petri ("Alternative for Germany") and Republican Sarah Palin in the USA can be referred to such. All of them adapt the populist installation of the "pack leader" for themselves. Often going even more drastically than their male counterparts. In a sense, each of them is a revolutionary rebel.
However, a more notable trend is that the global populism and the growing popularity of outsiders from politics are the reason for the decrease in the number of women at the head of states and governments. Last year, as a result of the impeachment procedures, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and South Korea Park Geun-hye were forced to leave their posts.
According to some psychological studies, even where women were able to obtain the top positions in the country, their position in the eyes of the electorate remains less legitimate than if the man were in their place. So, the path to impeachment becomes shorter.
Most often, as it was in South Korea and Brazil, women become heads of state as a result of a compromise between political forces. However, they are not perceived as full-fledged leaders of the nation. This makes them political figures, which, if necessary, can easily be sacrificed. And here we come to the fact of the Hillary Clinton defeat in the US presidential election, who had a good chance of becoming the first woman president in the country. But she did not because she was neither a revolutionary nor a compromise figure. The expectations for the mass support of Clinton among women-voters was not justified either. Even though Trump with his sexist statements simply pushed women to vote for a candidate from the Democrats, for the most part, gender positioning was less important than socio-political.
Clinton herself responded with an elegant comment: "I am happy that our long struggle for equality is a success: American women vote not for their own, but for whom they want.
But back to Trump and his gender policy.
The Trump phenomenon on a global scale is really not unique. The closest in spirit to him is former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. In addition, that both are millionaires who have earned a fortune on real estate, and Putin's admirers, they are classic examples of machismo in politics. With women, they, too, all evolved in a similar way - numerous marriages and boasting with their adventures.
In the government of Trump, women are represented in the least amount in the last 40 years.
They received only 4 of 25 seats. At the same time, there is not a single woman who has access to the Situation Room where meet heads of the departments that have the authority to influence the issues of national security.
The closest political associates of Trump are often representatives of right-wing and conservative views. The first among them is, of course, Senior Strategic Adviser Steve Bannon, former editor of the ultra-right Breitbart. Bannon, whose fascination with the neo-fascist ideas of Julius Evola could not help but affect the attitude towards women, is considered to be an ardent misogynist in Trump's team. Vice President Mike Pence, whom many call a representative of the Republican mainstream and in general he is a fairly well-regarded person, has repeatedly spoken out strongly against same-sex marriage. He directly participated in the recent march against abortion in Washington not only demonstrating his and the presidential support to the participants but also stating that a historic moment has come for the anti-abortion movement. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (the very one that everyone has heard lately about hiding the fact of contacts with the Russian ambassador) stated that he considers the church's separation from the state is unconstitutional.
With one of his first decrees, Trump banned the funding of foreign non-governmental organisations that "carry out or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other countries."
This prohibition was the restoration of the Global Gag Rule, approved by President Reagan in 1984. Each Democratic administration abolishes the rule a few days after taking office, and each Republican again restores it, reflecting how politicised the topic of abortion in American society is. The current Trump decision will lead to a reduction in the funding of international programs to support women in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Acting in the same vein, the Trump’s administration asked the State Department to provide information on all relevant programs aimed at supporting gender equality, their managers and funding. Given that the search for additional funds for defence needs is in parallel, such a request was widely regarded as a search for budgetary items for reduction.
Female representatives of the Democrats in the lower house of Congress during the first general appeal of Trump to the legislative body of the country demonstratively put on a white suffragette outfit in protest against his course. For more than a month, Trump repeatedly had to adjust his radical program promises under pressure from congresswomen.
Two large fraudulent manoeuvres were implemented at once to reduce the explosion of the gender issue for the administration. The first, relatively successful - raising the daughter of Trump Ivanka as a figure embodying a new "antreprenor" feminism. Having an income in the fashion business and married to a successful businessman, Ivanka became her father's adviser on family issues and women's protection.
At this, in interviews, she strongly emphasises her primary role as mother and wife. Her main initiative is the development of a program of state aid for child care financed from the federal budget. However, this initiative was somewhat eclipsed by the scandals surrounding her own business. The second certainly a successful manoeuvre is attracting the support of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who, after the cadence of Obama, is a notable world leader-feminist.
During their first official meeting, Trump and Trudeau agreed to establish a general council for the advancement of women entrepreneurs and female business leaders. But this, as well as the declarations of the March of women's history, is "ritual dances", which are unlikely to eclipse a significant fact that the United States, which for a long time was one of the leaders of gender equality and the sponsor of relevant programs around the world, are now living dangerously Right turn.
And its implementation will directly and negatively affect the state of democracy in the United States.
(Article was published at the European Truth)