Are women people?

I’ve long been bothered by the reduction of woman from meaning an adult female to  gender. This tends to reduce women to  people who fill a certain role that defines  adult female people as the second or lesser sex.  (See Simone de Beauvoir.  Her book is a slog to get through but is one of the best analyses of how gender oppresses women ever written.)

We have had over 40 years of right wing back lash against the progressive reforms of the 1960s.  This war against the 1960s has been anti-woman, anti-people of color, anti-LGBT and anti-Semitic.

Of course women are people.  Further these women come in all shapes and sizes.  They aren’t women because of their adherence to corporate ideals of femininity.

Trump’s insistence upon reducing women to sex objects valuable only as possessions is based solidly upon gender, gender, gender and the idea that women are women based on their adherence to a social role, that women who step outside that role, like Hillary Clinton, are some how not women.

From Salon:

The presidential election has turned into a referendum on whether women are full human beings or objects men own

Thursday, Oct 13, 2016

With the benefit of hours-old hindsight, it now seems inevitable that, with less than a month to go before the United States likely elects its first female president, the top trending topic on Twitter would be #repealthe19th. The hashtag was started by angry supporters of Republican candidate Donald Trump in response to a FiveThirtyEight analysis by Nate Silver showing that Trump would win in a landslide if women didn’t have the right to vote. That led to this demand, facetious or otherwise, that the United States end women’s suffrage.

 For good reason, Trump’s rise has largely been attributed to the forces of white nationalism engaged in a backlash against the first black president and growing racial diversity. But the past couple of weeks have demonstrated that this election is also a referendum on the question: Are women people?

It’s worth taking a moment to go back all the way to last week and consider Trump’s comments about the wrongful conviction of five teens, known as the Central Park Five, for the rape and beating of a jogger in 1989. Trump was heavily involved in the case at the time, taking out ads demanding the death penalty for the defendants. He refuses to apologize even in the face of overwhelming evidence that someone else committed the crime.

“They admitted they were guilty,” Trump said to CNN’s Miguel Marquez last week. He did not acknowledge extensive research showing that the police interrogation techniques that the five teenagers were subjected to are well known for causing false confessions.

Shortly after Trump said this, the “grab them by the pussy” “Access Hollywood” video was released. In it, Trump confessed — bragged, really — to its NBC host Billy Bush about sexually assaulting women and getting away with it.

Unlike the confessions of the Central Park Five, Trump’s confession was not coerced. On the contrary, he comes across as a man who is dying to talk about how he can do whatever he wants to women.

Since then, there’s been an explosion of women coming forward with stories of being on the receiving end of exactly the behavior Trump was describing.

And yet, Trump and his allies are dismissing his remarks as “locker-room talk” and MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough is wanking on that he’s “skeptical about the timing of all of this.”

The double standard in play here is largely about race, of course. As Jamelle Bouie of Slate noted, Trump has a history of painting black people “as helpless brutes leading disordered, degenerate lives.”

But it also goes back to Trump and his supporters treating women not as people but as objects to be owned and controlled by men.

If you look at women that way, the attitudes of Trump and his supporters make sense. Trump gets to grab all the pussy he wants because women’s bodies are objects put on this planet for his personal use. With the Central Park case, the truth of what happened matters less to Trump than the opportunity to use a woman’s body in his racialized drama about the dangers that black men supposedly pose to white men’s women.

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