An engineer by profession, Prasitha Sridhar worked for a while at an IT job before…Read More →
It was year 2008, Hillary Clinton was building up a presidential campaign to compete against President Barrack Obama. An editorial in one of India’s leading dailies said her chances were slim, as America would rather have a first Black president than a first woman president. And that’s exactly how things played out.
Well, in the past eight years, the world collectively has been smitten by the grace and cool quotient the President has brought to the White House and governance. That era of a charismatic leader is drawing to a close. The past year has seen a bitter electoral fight in America, with Hillary pitted against now President-elect Donald Trump. With the November 9 results, America once again proved that it would elect a roast turkey as President, if it comes to that, over a woman candidate hands down.
The victory has felt tragic to a lot of champions of women’s equality not because the dream of seeing a woman in world’s top job was dashed just when it was within a touching distance but because the country has preferred to choose a sexist, misogynist man instead. Another disturbing reality is that a whopping 53 percent of white women cast their vote in favor of Trump, which is an unmistakable setback to the women’s rights movement.
Soon after the election results were out came the customary victory speech from Mr President-elect. Given that gender biases and a full-blown gender war was at the forefront of this bitterly fought presidential election, one expected Mr Trump to correct the tone by making some poignant points about women’s rights, religious minorities, immigrants and more.
After all, here is a man who has resorted to outlandish remarks in the public about ‘grabbing women by the pussy’, punishing them for having abortions, and also calling out his opponent on her ‘femaleness’ at various stages of his campaign.
Of course, half the population he is now poised to govern would have felt a whole lot more at ease if Mr Trump had dedicated even two straight sentences in that victory address to reassure the women of America that protecting their rights and according to them their due would be a priority for him.
What we got instead was a cosmetic speech that was politically correct and generic in nature, and addressed primarily to a whole lot of people to whom Mr Trump thinks he owes his gratitude. It could well be a rehashed into an Oscar acceptance speech.
By leaving a lot unsaid, Mr Trump seems to be sending home a message that Americans knew what he stands for and what his belief system is, and they voted for him anyway. He has managed to market himself as their howl of hope for relieving the average American from anguish and anger, and if demeaning women comes with the package, it is a package that people must be prepared to live with for at least the next four years.
That victory speech is also a sad reminder that November 9, 2016, could have gone down in the history as the single greatest milestone in women’s march toward fairness and equality but instead the women of America – and across the globe – have been catapulted back to an era of keeping their opinions silent and dreams small.
In face of this collective setback, the loss of ‘a woman in the Oval Office’ dream is least of the tragedy.
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