Misogyny in Trump Policy and Pierre; Can We Elect More Women to Solve?

Quartz offers a remarkable summary of Donald Trump’s war on women. Tying together cuts in foreign aid for reproductive health, the cancellation of a plan to gather data on pay equity, the lifting of the requirement that employer plans cover birth control, the House’s recent vote to ban abortion after twenty weeks, and Betsy DeVos’s changes to guidelines on investigating sexual assault on college campuses, Annalisa Merelli sees a misogynist President systematically undermining trust in women:

It is hard not to see this as a deliberate intention. The president is a noted misogynist who has nominated men to government jobs at a higher rate than any of the last three presidents. His administration doesn’t trust women, and doesn’t want its citizens to trust them either [Annalisa Merelli, “The Trump Administration Isn’t Just Curtailing Women’s Rights; It’s Systematically Eroding Trust in Women,” Quartz, 2017.10.14].

Merelli notes that, with regard to the campus rape/Title IX issue, an Obama Administration report found that only 2% to 10% of rape reports are false. The Trump Administration removed that report from the White House website and now has its Education Department peddling the unevidenced claim that “90% of assault accusations ‘fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right.””

To break the grip of misogynists on government, we need to get more women to run for office. But here in South Dakota, maybe one reason we have trouble getting women to run for and stay in office—and a reason that doesn’t get enough discussion in other analyses of South Dakota’s political gender gap— is the gross misogyny in our Capitol.

Responding to their executive director’s story of sexual assault in Pierre, board members of NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota call for an end to that misogyny:

The board of NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota is proud to support our executive director, Samantha Spawn, in her courageous public fight against the culture of sexual assault and intimidation. We were saddened to hear reports of the treatment she survived, yet we strongly commend her bravery for speaking about it publicly to raise awareness of how this behavior affects women across our state. Samantha’s story puts a spotlight on the culture of misogyny and hyper-masculinity that is rampant in the state capital. For too long, women who choose to serve our state have had to contend with a toxic culture in Pierre that belittles women and subjects them to abhorrent behavior that includes sexual harassment and sometimes assault [Amy Kelley, Antoinette Miller, Jeri Reed, Kadyn Wittman, and Tiffany Cambpell, NARAL Pro-Choice SD Board of Directors, statement, 2017.10.16].

Of course, the thesis that we need more women in Pierre to put an end to the bad old boys’ club leads me to an awkward question: would Kristi Noem in the Governor’s office mitigate the harmful, hyper-masculine Capitol culture in a way that neither Marty Jackley nor Billie Sutton can?


18 Responses to Misogyny in Trump Policy and Pierre; Can We Elect More Women to Solve?

  1. Mrs. Nelson

    Yeah, no… it’s not on women to fix this, it’s on men to change their bad behavior.

  2. It is probably a scary thought, having to decide if you are anti-misogynist or anti-Republican. I, for one, think young Ms. Noem would do just dandy regardless of her sex or party affiliation. I’m not saying I’m backing her just yet, but I am saying you should vote for the person, not the label or the sex or even the pretty face.

    grudznick is wise, people. grudznick is wise indeed.

  3. William Reynolds

    In general, I’d like to see more women in elected positions…but not just any women. After all, I assume that millions of women voted for Trump, so I wouldn’t expect them to be much help in this regard. Also, what Mrs Nelson said.

  4. Why does there need to be an end to misogyny in our capitol? With “women’s rights advocates” like Samantha Spawn who are more than willing to cover the tracks of rapists, why do these men need to change their behavior? Apparently, Spawn is not concerned for the safety of anyone else who works in the capitol. Do I take her accusation seriously? Yes, because there is nothing about the story that is implausible. I could have happened and will likely happen again if she does not come forward with details. The fact that she is letting this rapist get away with it only increases the likelihood of another victim. She needs to follow through and report this and publicly name the alleged rapist. I don’t care what party this person is from or in what capacity. If someone actually raped her and then had the disturbing capacity to show up at a committee hearing the next day to threaten her again, this person needs to be put in prison, immediately.

  5. Spencer, misogyny should end because it is wrong. Men like Harvey Weinstein, Donald Trump, and whoever attacked Ms. Spawn should change their behavior because they are behaving evilly, disrespecting the fundamental dignity and autonomy of fellow human beings. You cannot compare the moral gravity of their active harm to others with the choice you assume one person to speak to law enforcement or not.

    I think you care very much about party and capacity in your attack.

  6. How was it that Harvey Weinstein, and Bill Cosby, and Donald Trump, were able to victimize so many women? Victims who didn’t come forward and name names allowed perpetrators to further perpetrate.

    Do any of us want to hear about men who victimized 5, 10, 15 women before anyone came forward? No. Victims who don’t take action owe future victims an apology. That action doesn’t have to be public. It can be simply going to police and maintaining their own confidentiality as victims. But for goodness sake DO SOMETHING! Maybe Ms. Spawn has disclosed the identity of her alleged attacker to authorities in a non-public setting. I certainly hope so. Because none of us want to hear in 2025 that the same person who victimized her victimized others in 2018 and 2019 and 2020 and 2021 and 2022 … before ever coming to the attention of authorities.

  7. The condemnation of women on comment threads like these are precisely why women don’t report their sexual assaults. To not only disparage a women who was brave enough to come forward but to also attempt to place blame on her for not reporting her assault is vile.

    I can say with complete honesty that if I were the victim of a sexual assault I’m not sure I’d report it. The personal, professional, and societal costs are so high for victims, and the likelihood of conviction so low for perpetrators, that each individual woman must make her own decision as to how to move forward. If any survivors of sexual assault are reading this thread, please know that I – and many women like me – support you, regardless of whether or not you reported your assault to the authorities.

  8. mike from iowa

    Women who do come forward get slut-shamed all the damn time, Rohr. That is why so many victims don’t bother to report this stuff. When enough find enough other victims, they find safety in numbers. Their credibility is at stake when they try this alone. It for sure will be attacked in court. Then and there the actual victims get treated as the guilty party.

  9. I share LS1’s alarm with the quickness with the effort to assign significant moral blame to victims. We don’t hear this kind of language with regard to many if any other crimes, do we? “Reporting a robbery? Ah, nuts—she probably hocked her own stuff and doesn’t want to admit it.” What makes so many people less willing to accept accusations of rape as true, or to buy the thesis that telling the public that a man forced himself into her body all by itself, never mind the potential for retribution and the cost of lawyering up, is not something many women are eager to do, given our culture’s strange, schizophrenic/Puritan attitudes about sex?

  10. Roger Cornelius

    Over the weekend a messaging campaign was started on Facebook and
    Twitter for women that were victims of sexual abuse.
    The ‘Me Too’ campaign is not only gathering support from local women, but numerous celebrities.
    How or when women report sexual abuse is no one’s business but theirs and men should be understanding of their situation.

  11. Francis Schaffer

    “Me Too” is not even half the story. If you were shocked by the number of people who responded to the “Me Too” movement and feel compelled to change then there are some other facts that you must know.
    1) One is 6 girls and one in 8 are sexually abused before the age of 18 in America.
    2) 80% of those children will be victimized by a family member (not a stranger).
    3) Only 15% of those children will be identified as victims in childhood.
    4) 85% of the children who are abused will receive zero support from anyone to heal during childhood.
    5) 50% of those children will actually never tell anyone even after they become adults.
    6) One in four women between the ages of 18 and 24 will be a victim of raped or attempted rape.
    7) If the young woman is a college student, she will be even less likely to report the rape.
    8) 90% of sexual violators are male.
    9) Survivors of sexual assault are more likely to commit suicide, be imprisoned, become a victim of domestic violence and abuse drugs or alcohol (please note the “more likely”) than people who are never victimized.
    10) The conviction rate for rape charges is less than 3% for those few victims who report the crime.
    You should also know that these statistics are not secret. There are those of us who have committed our lives to dealing with these issues, either by working on prevention, supporting survivors or changing policy. Personally, several times a week I share a post from my organization, Talking Trees, which supports over 5000 members internationally. Very few people Like, Share or Comment on the posts. Most scroll right past when they see that it deals with sexual abuse. There is fear of being identified with this issue in any way. We find comfort in ignorance because it excuses us from responsibility. Well, now you know. You have no excuse. The very least you could do is take time to read, Like and Share posts from organizations that are trying to address the problem, starting with this here post.

    I saw this on Facebook from one of my friends. I agree with Roger women need to report sexual assault/abuse/rape when they are ready. I post these statistics relying upon the person from whom I borrowed them; Dr. Rosenna Bakari. This landslide of women coming forward to report will become an avalanche because we have reached the tipping point.

  12. My _______ long -time employee was fired for being a whistle blower in a sexual harassment case against a management-infected major corporate employer in SD, the EEOC was ineffectual in providing adequate investigation or protection, and the SD DOL hearing process was traumatic and unsympathetic and sided with management, and incompetent HR department. The only protection would have been thousands of dollars of independent legal prosecution. David/Goliath odds in SD protect corporate and other legally staffed employers, the state, and the status quo.

  13. Roger says men need to “be understanding”. Beyond that, we need to help dismantle the patriarchy that is baked into the institutions that Leslie describes at every level resisting his employee’s effort to report sexual harassment and fight for justice. Maybe the answer to my question above about the unique social reaction to sexual assault lies in that experience with the patriarchy, the deep interest men in general have in maintaining their malevolent power in a patriarchal society. Fighting robbery doesn’t upset the deep social order the same way fighting sexual assault does.

  14. There is a lot of Trump-speak going on here. Apparently we have to silently and complacently accept non-reporting of sexual assault if we want to put an end to the sexual assault culture. Only by leaving the perpetrators out there to perpetrate again will we solve the problem.

  15. There is no blame to place on anybody other than the perpetrator of a sexual assault. Hopefully most or all of us can agree that sexual assaults and rapes should never happen. If eliminating these assaults is the goal, I think it makes sense for everyone to take action that leads to achieving that goal.

    The “popular” opinion, and I agree with it completely, is that sexual predators should stop being sexual predators and not victimize anybody, ever. I think the issue of reporting and holding people accountable is what some of the “unpopular” commenters are focusing on. It’s one thing to agree that rapists shouldn’t rape, but it’s another thing to face the reality that some people are just horrible people and will never conform their actions to the moral majority – and I think the people who are being accused of “victim-blaming” are attempting to navigate that reality by suggesting that an increase in the reporting of crimes may help potential future victims not become actual victims. I admit it sounds completely unsympathetic to suggest a rape victim is “allowing” her rapist to rape others by not reporting the crime to authorities, but I can’t say that argument has no merit. If the conviction rates for sexual assaults are lower than for other crimes, that issue should be addressed, absolutely. However, as long as conviction rates are above 0% for reported sexual assaults, I think we would be missing an opportunity to reduce these types of assaults by subscribing to the notion that increased reporting isn’t an important variable in this fight against vile criminals just because that idea feels unsympathetic.

    Not all the comments on these sexual-assault related posts are exactly works of literary art, but I understand the message behind most of the comments to be “We don’t want these people hurting anybody else, either, so tell us who it was so we can do something about it.” If this problem had an easy solution, I would say let’s do that. It doesn’t have an easy solution, though, so instead of fighting people who want the same result but say it differently, we should all teach our children how to treat others, we should speak up when we see anybody being victimized, including ourselves, and we should collective hold people accountable for their actions.

    Education, Prevention, and Enforcement. Three necessary aspects of behavior management. Two out of three isn’t enough.

  16. Francis Schaffer

    Ryan,
    What do you propose is done differently from reporting to accoutability since less than 3% of reported rapes leads to conviction? Which means to me there is little accoutability. Also, Ryan did you see in India, the 4 men who gang raped a women on a bus were convicted and sentenced to hang? I know if we lengthened the statute of limitations so people who were raped as children can come forward on his/her time frame and have the perpetrator held accountable would help the accoutability of the rape crime statistics. I believe there is no statute of limitations on murder and I have heard child rape is soul murder.

  17. I think conviction rates being lower than most other crimes is a problem without an easy solution, but I don’t think that fact alone should mean that we don’t encourage victims to speak up.

    Some states have no statute of limitations for rape, and I think that should be true for all states and I think the same should apply to all violent crimes. Smart legislation like that, plus an increase in support for victims, plus additional attention to education equals an opportunity for progress on this terrible issue.

  18. Francis Schaffer

    Ryan
    This seems reasonable. Encouraging victims to speak up is difficult because of the societal tendency to blame the victim for the rape; how were you dressed, why were you alone, what did you do to lead him on, why didn’t you just say no? type of attitudes are not very welcoming for a person who has experience a live altering trauma. We need to change the narrative to place full responsibility upon the perpetrator with actions and our words.