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P is for Patriarchy Progression: Women’s Progress in the Aftermath of Trump’s “Success”

MeTooNYC Rally
Protesters unite at the MeTooNYC rally on December 9, 2017

As the snow fell in New York on Saturday December 9, 2017, a small but powerful group rallied at the edge of Central Park opposite the Trump International Hotel and Tower at the #metoonyc rally. The sky did not let up, but neither did the crowd. Armed with signs, banners, and badges, the crowd chanted, “Survivors united will never be divided”. Among the array of men, women, and children was Rebecca McKay, a 22-year-old metoo survivor and advocate.

“I think its honestly disgusting that people support [Trump] after all the things that he’s basically admitted to doing,” said McKay.

“Its obvious that he is also someone who has been predatory towards some people… the fact that he got elected in the first place is just upsetting even before those things came to light.”

But amidst all the upset and rage of Trump’s rise to and reign of the Presidency, there is some hope. Women are more openly vocalizing and rallying for their political ideologies and values to be heard, and now a historic number of Democratic women are running for congress.

Lynn Phillips, a Communications professor at the University of Massachusetts, acknowledges this as an important step forward for women:

“You could say that women running for office is undercut by Trump’s misogyny. You could say we’re trying to undercut Trump’s misogyny by having more women run for office, and I want to vote for the latter.”

Kaylee Johnson, a graduate student at UMass pursuing a PhD in political science, believes the current response from many women to Trump was inevitable. Johnson recalls the televised election debates that showed Trump shadowing Hillary Clinton, essentially stalking her in an effort to intimidate, as well as the list of 21 women who have alleged sexual assault or harassment claims against him, and his endorsement of Roy Moore. For her and many other women in her life, political activism through rallies like the Women’s March and metoo have opened the door for women in politics:

“I think it definitely gives women a way to have a voice and I think you’ll probably see people end up running and using some of these stories as a reason about why, and wanting to change things and conditions for women,” said Johnson.

It seems as though Trump’s election to the White House set in motion a stronger realization and determination among women in particular to have their voices heard. From the Women’s March on January 20, an event that took place across the United States, and resulted in worldwide participation, to the recent metoo campaigns and rallies, women in the US have spoken out against the sexism and misogyny endorsed by Trump. As a collective, women have become more inspired to engage in politics and have united to vocalize their views and ideologies.

Jill O’Loughlin, a senior communications major at UMass, has found herself in this very situation. For her, the Access Hollywood tape released in 2016 was a wake-up call. Trump’s words had opened up the trauma of her own experiences with sexual assault, and she was determined to speak out and rally against the sexist and oppressive ideas perpetuated by the President himself. O’Loughlin recognizes the positive outcomes of the election and the current political landscape:

“After having eight years of a very progressive president it was very easy for people to sit back and say ‘I can take the day off’, when now every single day it feels vital to stand up for the principles that you believe in because you see them threatened,” said O’Loughlin.

“It has led to much more involvement amongst minorities and particularly young people, particularly our generation and that is incredibly valuable.”

In the current political climate, it is crucial for women to be heard. The transmission of sexist and oppressive ideologies needs to be dismantled, and this starts with speaking out against the perpetuators of these ideas.