In less than a year, the Trump administration has worked to scale back or outright remove key protections and services for women, in the U.S. and abroad. Writing for Quartz , Annalisa Merelli discusses how these actions work both to harm women as well as erode society's trust in their abilities for self-determination.
Trusting women’s judgement would mean believing that they make sensible decisions, even when that decision is to end a pregnancy late or report an abuse with no evidence other than what they themselves experienced. But if their credibility is systematically undermined, it’s easier to diminish their worth. That ultimately makes it easier to justify paying them less, not choosing them for political office, ignoring their voices, and taking away their rights over their bodies.
Merelli notes the following measures taken by the Trump administration in its first nine months that cultivate a destructive environment for women:
- January: Reinstated the Mexico City Policy, which cuts aid funding to any international organization that so much as mentions to a pregnant woman that abortion is one of her options
- April: Cut funding to the UN Population Fund, which provides reproductive health in more than 150 countries
- July: Promoted the idea (paywall) that most reports of college sexual assault are false
- August: Scrapped a rule that would have made pay disparities more visible by requiring many US companies to report on pay rates by race and gender
- August: Removed a key report on college sexual assault—which found, among other things, that very few assault reports are false—from the White House website.
- September: Issued new guidance on how colleges should investigate sexual assault, requiring a higher burden of proof
- October: Curtailed the right to birth control enshrined in Obamacare
Of the changes to Obama-era sexual assault reporting on college campuses, she says:
...false accusations are so rare that the new guidelines seem like a deliberate attempt to promote suspicions that women who report an assault may be lying. This runs contrary to decades of scientific literature on rape reporting.
This is an approach that perpetrates a fundamental lack of trust in women—something that in turn is fertile ground for limiting their rights. The same mindset runs through the proposed ban on abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy, introduced by a conservative Republican member of the House of Representatives, which passed a House vote on Oct. 3.
In the end, the Trump administration's approach of reevaluating, restricting, and removing protections in place for American women leads down the road of sewing mistrust of women's motives and abilities.