On Wednesday, Donald and Melania Trump both gave rare, polished speeches commemorating the end of Women’s History Month, Melania’s at the Women of Courage Awards at the State Department, and Donald’s at a “Women’s Empowerment Panel” held at the White House. Although both Trumps managed to stick largely to script, both scripts reeked of Donald’s history of misogyny, and often seemed to nod directly to it.
In Melania’s speech, which clocked in at around eight minutes and 35 seconds, she made a series of vaguely poetic declarations about equality and the horrors of injustice. The speech was halting and stumbled over, and referred to gender-based abuse and oppression perpetrated by men just like her husband.
“While learning the stories of these 12 honorees,” she said, referencing the 13 women set to receive Women of Courage awards, “I would like to ask each of us to take this moment to try to imagine what it would be like to experience the trying obstacles: domestic abuse, gender bias violence, or government oppression that some of these women have faced. Let us try to envision ourselves in their place. Struggling against gender bias and discriminatory laws which serve to protect the prepators [sic] of unthinkable crimes while punishing their victims should they even dare to speak out.”
Perhaps when she said this, in the back of her mind, she too thought of her terrible, heaving husband, who has enthusiastically compared women to animals and spoken freely about his own history of sexual assault. Or, maybe, she didn’t have any idea what she was saying, but was instead tightly kegeling and hoping for the speech to somehow end itself.
“We must continue to fight injustice in all its forums in whatever scale or shape it takes in our lives,” she continued. “Together we must declare that the era of allowing the brutality against women and children is over, while affirming that the time for empowering women around the world is now. For wherever women are diminished, the entire world is diminished with them.”
At the very least, her speech passed the Bechdel test, insofar as she didn’t explicitly mention her husband at all.
Trump spoke shortly after at the White House event, during which hundreds of women in tweed gave him a standing ovation for saying the phrase, “Make America great again.” Trump was able to stick to a script, speaking for a little under 10 minutes, with only a few crowd ad libs, during which time he commended the efforts of Abigail Adams, Harriet Tubman, and Susan B. Anthony. It was a safe speech that expressed the importance of providing opportunities for women in business and also of affordable childcare for every family.
But Trump’s promises ring false if you’ve been paying even a little bit of attention who the president is (someone who lies), or his proposed policies. His childcare policy, promoted by his daughter, actually wouldn’t ensure that every American has access to affordable child care. Instead, a study conducted by the Tax Policy Center found that 70 percent of child-related tax benefits would go exclusively to families making more than $100,000.
Trump’s most recent tax plan looks at first like it gives parents a tax break by allowing them to take a larger standard deduction, but other changes to the tax code — eliminating personal exemptions and repealing head of household filing status — end up more than offsetting that...
Combined with those potential losses, families with an income between $20,000 and $50,000 actually face tax hikes, while families making between $50,000 and $75,000 would see an average increase of after-tax income of only 0.1 percent — virtually nothing.
Still, in his speech, as in Melania’s, it was hard not to interpret most statements as direct references to Donald’s actual opinion of women.
Of more women entrepreneurs unleashed on the U.S. economy, Trump said, “So as a man, I stand before you as president, but if I weren’t president, I wouldn’t be happy to hear that statement. That would be a very scary statement to me because there’s no way we can compete with you. So I would not be happy. I just wouldn’t be happy.”
It’s a neat little thought experiment—to have his supporters playfully imagine a scenario in which Trump the businessman is threatened be women entrepreneurs, but Trump the president encourages them. It necessitates that the two are different people, rather than just one enormously corrupt bag of oats.
“To be honest, whether you’re a woman or whether you’re a man, you have that same dream—you want to be able to dream,” he said speaking in words that mean nothing yet drip with old boy condescension. “You [presumably women] just have a big advantage over us, you know why? Right there [pointing at head]. There’s a lot of truth to that, right, Mike?” he said, vaguely searching for VP Mike Pence in the crowd.
I don’t know how I can argue with that.