Incredibly, it wasn’t until 1987 that Congress finally acknowledged the part women have played in the great movements of American history, declaring March to be National Women’s History Month.
And each year since, as March rolls around, U.S. presidents have stood at the lectern, extolling the virtues of American women. In President Trump’s statement, released last week, he praised the amazing triumphs of American women: how hard they work; how well they embrace change and technology; and how integral they are to American life.
“Our history is rich with amazing stories of strong, courageous and brilliant women,” Trump’s statement began, in his attempt to convince us that he respects and champions women. “Since America’s founding, women have played an integral part in American innovation and productivity, while simultaneously raising generations of lively children and providing leadership in their local communities,” he went on.
How ironic! It’s no secret that this current president of ours—as well as his administration—has a horrible track record with women and women’s issues.
Trump has been accused of sexual misconduct, from harassment to assault and rape, by 21 women. He has categorically denied all allegations as “fake news.” Last fall, the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, went so far as to call Trump’s accusers liars.
And let’s not forget that Trump was caught on tape with his now infamous “grab them by the p---” comment.
In its short time in office, the Trump Administration has rolled back access to safe and affordable reproductive health care, both in the U.S. and around the world. In fact, Vice President Pence has recently suggested that legal abortions in the U.S. “could end in our time.”
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rescinded Title IX guidelines that were written to support survivors of sexual assault, through the reporting process. And—shockingly—DeVos had met just prior to announcing her decision with activists from the National Coalition for Men, some of whose members have been accused of harassing rape survivors.
Trump has aggressively defended multiple men accused of crimes against women. Rob Porter, Trump’s personal staff secretary, resigned after two of his ex-wives came forward alleging that he had physically abused them.
“He says he is innocent,” President Trump said when Porter resigned. Trump endorsed Roy Moore, an Alabama politician who was running for the Senate, even though nine women had come forward to accuse him of assault, including one woman who claims to have been molested by Moore when she was 14 years old.
“He totally denies it,” Trump said.
I could go on and on, listing one issue after another, highlighting the irony in Trump’s acknowledgment of Women’s History Month.
In his brief statement, Trump ignored the fact that women, historically, have always been activists, creating powerful and effective social movements; that they organized and petitioned against slavery; fought bitterly for the right to vote; created parks and established kindergartens for children; fought to end child labor and feed hungry children; created settlement houses to educate newly arrived immigrants; always fought against war, and have always been in the forefront of the fight for human rights.
Wouldn’t it have been remarkable if Trump had referenced Hillary Clinton’s proclamation, made in Beijing in 1995: “If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all.”