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?