In honor of the upcoming election, this will be a special themed column discussing sex-related matters that have arisen during this political roller coaster ride. Topics include the presidential candidates, the future of the Supreme Court and issues to watch for on the ballot.
Donald Trump, as you may have heard, faced outrage recently when audio/video footage revealed his love for misogynistic humor and sexual assault, which wasn’t a surprise for anyone who had been paying attention. For more than 20 years, Donald has been spewing hate about women he deems unattractive, making incestuous comments about his daughter, disrespecting his wives and making excuses for sexual harassment. Recently, a series of angry tweets from a female Republican made the rounds on social media as evidence of the great divide between Donald and his voter base. True Republicans, the woman and her supporters argue, should unendorse the current presidential candidate and rally behind someone who represents their values as conservatives. I know this usually isn’t an overtly political column, but given the circumstances I feel inclined to dabble in critical commentary. Donald is not an anomaly who just happened to slip into the presidential candidacy without precedent. His sexist (not to mention xenophobic, homophobic, racist etc.) comments build on the backbone of a party in which inequality may as well be a platform.
Just because some ultra-conservative fringe Republicans make ignorant comments sometimes doesn’t mean the whole party is sexist, you might be saying. I might agree with you if that statement were true, so let’s consider current Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. You might remember him from the last presidential election, when his bulging biceps earned him the title of All-Time Sexiest VP Candidate. As perhaps the most powerful Republican in office right now, it would be hard to argue that he occupies any sort of fringe position in the party. Let’s discuss Ryan’s sexism, completely ignoring his transphobia, homophobia and racism: he supports overturning Roe v. Wade and opposes all abortion even in cases of rape, incest and when the carrier’s health is at risk; he advocates the complete defunding of Planned Parenthood, including non-abortion services, which is actually more extreme than Donald’s plans; he co-sponsored legislation to narrow the legal definition of rape to “forcible rape”; finally, no matter how you feel about abortion, Ryan voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to ensure equal pay for equal work by women. This overarching ignorance applies to issues of homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia and racism. It seems Donald has become the scapegoat for Republicans to hold up as a Very Bad Man, all the while repeating his sentiments in tones just a few decibels quieter. The issue, then, isn’t Donald’s statements, but that he’s saying them too loudly. To any rogue conservatives out there: I know your people can’t be all bad. I’m sure the guiding principle of “less government” doesn’t necessarily go along with sexism and hate, but I just have trouble with a large chunk of your party’s platform. To be fair, your party’s platform has a lot of trouble with a large chunk of me, so I guess we’re even.
This election, beyond just choosing a president, will also determine the future of the Supreme Court. As you may have heard, Justice Antonin Scalia died in February at the beginning of this year and his seat will remain unfilled until President Obama exits the office. Appointing Supreme Court justices remains one of the most important jobs of the president, and it is likely that in the next four years, the sitting president could appoint as many as three new justices, with two of the current justices over the age of 80. If the Supreme Court becomes loaded with conservative justices, Donald can fulfill his promise of overturning Roe v. Wade. Current Supreme Court precedents can be overturned with a new decision by a new Supreme Court, making the future of legal abortion realistically precarious if Donald becomes president. If Roe v. Wade were overturned, states with “trigger bans” will automatically ban abortion clinics within the first 60 days of the decision. Within two years, over half the states will have an abortion ban, driving abortion procedures back into the pre-1970s shadows and hugely increasing the risk of the death for the patient. Other important precedents that may reach the Supreme Court include: marriage equality, transgender discrimination laws, second amendment and gun control legislation and decisions involving the state of US health care.
What are little citizens like us to do? Stay informed on what’s at stake. If you can’t bear to read about economics, pick something you’re passionate about and stay up-to-date on that. This election will determine our country’s path for the foreseeable future, not just on sex-related issues but on issues of the economy, environment and military. And I know you’ve heard this a million times already, but vote! It’s so easy in Minnesota, you can register on the spot at Macalester Plymouth Church. Remember, kids, “it doesn’t really matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.” (The Donald, 1991).