Bush preaches identity politics, while Trump claims that he’s a victim of gendered “double standards.”
Earlier on Thursday, Donald Trump came out with a powerful statement on gender equality. But instead of advocating for, say, women’s healthcare and pay equality, Trump used all powers of his increasingly labile imagination to argue that he—businessman and billionaire—is being held to gendered double standards. Whereas women like Fiorina can openly make fun of other women’s appearances, the almighty Trump is expected to stay silent; a victim in the war against men. “It’s not only a double standard—it’s being politically correct,” he told Fox News.
Trump’s comments follow Wednesday night’s debate, where he and Jeb Bush openly battled for the women’s vote—all while trampling on women’s rights. For many, it was a bittersweet (emphasis on the bitter) moment in political history. While both Trump and Bush advocate policies that would threaten millions of women’s lives worldwide, they both seem to have recognized that women’s experiences can’t be (verbally) discounted in the way they once were. From Trump: “Jeb was very negative on women’s health and when you’re negative on women’s health, you can forget about it. I’m the exact opposite. I cherish women. I want to help women. I want to do things for women that no other candidates can do.” From Bush, on the face for the new $10 bill: "It's probably illegal, but what the heck, she [Margaret Thatcher] certainly was a strong leader that restored the United Kingdom to greatness." (Note: the United Kingdom is not, despite appearances, the United States).
Image via Wikimedia
As much as Trump and Bush lovingly reminisce about the pre-feminist era, the language they both used Wednesday night, and at moments throughout the campaign, come from schools of feminist thought that they so lovingly seek to destroy. Concerns about gender disparities in healthcare started to emerge during the second-wave feminist movement, not—as Trump might imagine—the Reagan era. Bush’s hope to make a dollar bill more “gender-inclusive” is a direct result of third-wave identity politics, which dreamed of diversity in power. And Trump’s argument that he’s the victim of sexist “double standards,” is, perhaps, the most blatant appropriation of classic liberal-feminist thought we’ve had in the past … week.
Trump and Bush may be seeking a bigger, better, more regressive America. The best way they’ve discovered to stomp on feminists isn’t to slam their words—but steal them.