Women are gathering in Las Vegas this weekend to protest the Trump administration. This event also marks the first anniversary of the Women’s March, which took place in Washington, D.C., for Trump’s inauguration and drew more than 1 million participants.
The women who went to the Women’s March in D.C. last year were concerned about what the new president would mean for the country. Many were understandably disappointed that Hillary Clinton had failed to become the first female president. They were disturbed by recordings of the president’s crude remarks on the infamous “Billy Bush tape,” as well as his tweets and other statements about women. They didn’t know what policies the president would enact and had been encouraged by activists and many media figures to expect the worst.
Yet a year later, while the president continues to make rash tweets and pick personal fights that seem juvenile, the worst fears of those who took part in that initial Women’s March haven’t been realized.
There hasn’t been a roll back of women’s rights, and the government’s checks and balances remain firmly in place. The president has made meaningful progress in rescinding executive orders issued by Barrack Obama, which had massively expanded government’s power without legislative approval and created a thicket of red tape that slowed the economy. As a result of this and the important tax reform package passed last year, the economy, at long last, is improving, more people are working and wages appear set to finally start to climb.
That’s good news for everyone, especially women who now are primary or sole breadwinners for more than 40 percent of U.S. homes and manage household budgets.
But other major goals set forth by the president have stalled: comprehensive health care reform didn’t pass the Senate, and the courts have blocked the president’s proposed limits on immigration and travel. Supporters are frustrated by the slow pace of change, but everyone should take comfort that the checks on executive power are working and the pace of change is slow and deliberative, just as our founders intended.
The Women’s March, however, was never really focused on defending the constitutional system or concerned about the abuse of power — or even advancing the cause of women more broadly. It has always been an entirely political movement, which it made explicit this year, using the tagline “Power to the Poll” and boasting of supporting Democrats’ political prospects.
That is their right. There’s nothing wrong with a rally bringing left-leaning women together to fight for the policy agenda and candidates they support. Yet the media ought to recognize that this isn’t really an inclusive Women’s March, but a political event that represents the views of a subset of Americans. “Women” is used as a convenient political slogan. They certainly don’t speak for or represent all women, or even a majority of women. They certainly don’t represent women such as me.
Unfortunately, public discussions of women in politics and policy often stereotype women as a monolithic group — as if, just because women share a similar biology, we must also share a certain political perspective, too. This was the troubling assumption behind too many spokespeople for Hillary Clinton who took for granted that women ought to support her just out of solidarity for the shared sex. It also underpinned Michelle Obama’s statement that “any woman who voted against Hillary Clinton voted against their own voice.”
That’s an insult to women. Women aren’t a political monolith. In fact, four in 10 female voters supported Trump in 2016. Many women — just like men! — evaluated facts and the arguments they heard and reached the conclusion that they supported the policies Trump promised to advance over the agenda pushed by Clinton.
Many women worry that the regulations and policies promoted by Democrats and the organizers of the Women’s March would backfire on women, leaving them with fewer job opportunities and dragging down wages. Many women have been thrilled to see tax cuts and the roll back of unnecessary government regulation. Many women are concerned that our broken immigration system is harming the prospects of Americans, straining community resources and leaving us vulnerable to attack. They hope that the president makes progress there too.
This is something the media should keep this in mind when covering the so-called “Women’s March” in Las Vegas. Women aren’t a special interest with just one agenda. Women have varied opinions on matters of politics and public policies. Pretending otherwise and pigeonholing women isn’t progress; it’s old fashion stereotyping.