Donald Trump is crude and overtly sexist, but it should be remembered that Hillary Clinton does not have a clean record when it comes to fair treatment of women. Trump may have blundered through his career and campaign implying that he would date his daughter and ranking women out of ten, but Hillary Clinton has publicly derided potential rape victims. Nonetheless, Clinton’s offences are historic, whilst Trump’s continue to the present day: he is now facing numerous allegations of assault. Furthermore, Clinton’s campaign promises initiatives that will specifically benefit women, where Trump does not: suggesting that Clinton at least understands the appropriate, equality-focused stance befitting a presidential candidate. If both candidates are misogynists, Clinton now hides it well, and this is more promising for American women’s prospects than Trump’s flagrant disinterest in their rights and humanity.
Nonetheless, despite women’s rights now being a part of her presidential campaign, Hillary’s past displays several high-profile engagements with women that suggest contempt for the gender which she now appears to champion. Critics often point to her unsavoury comments about the women with whom her husband had affairs in the early nineties. Words that could have been excused given the circumstances suddenly look more sinister when one considers that Hillary supposedly threatened her husband’s alleged rape victim, Juanita Broaddrick, at a political fundraiser following the incident. It is also inescapably un-feminist to label Bill Clinton’s mistresses and assault victims ‘bimbos’ and pledge to ‘destroy’ the story of a woman who claimed to have been sought as a sexual encounter for him when Bill clearly shoulders some or all of the blame. In all this, Hillary Clinton not only ignores sexual assault and rape, but also resolutely places blame on the women for her husband’s actions. It could be explained away by her emotional entanglement in the situation, but such symptoms of misogyny are nonetheless concerning in a public figure.
Possibly the worst accusation against her, however, is the claim made that she defended a child rapist, denigrated his victim, and was later recorded laughing at the child’s plight. This case, however, which occurred in 1975, needs a few points clarifying. Firstly, the instance cited refers specifically to a court case, one in which Hillary Clinton (then Rodham), was ordered by a judge to represent Thomas Taylor, the accused rapist. Then a practising lawyer, the order was not one that she could refuse, although she reportedly felt uncomfortable about taking on the case and did so with reluctance. The accusation that Clinton viciously dissected the girl’s character in order to defend the rapist is partially true, although merely part of the job she was assigned, and not an act of unfounded malicious intent against a young girl, as the incident is often misleadingly presented to imply. Her laughter, meanwhile, was in response to a number of unusual aspects of the case when talking about it later – such as a polygraph test which she suspected was false, and circumstances surrounding the gathering of evidence. Of course, it is possible that Hillary did not mind defending the rapist or slandering the girl in order to secure a win for him. Her later laughter could show her lack of compassion regarding the case. However, alternatively she truly hated representing Taylor, as she has since said, but knew it was her professional duty to work hard for her client. Her laughter, whether or not it was appropriate, could simply be a product of telling an unusual story, and possibly a symptom of her discomfort. Whichever the truth, one thing is clear: this case does not necessarily demonstrate contempt for women, but it does demonstrate professional dedication.Moreover, as an incident that occurred more than forty years ago, it is entirely possible that Mrs Clinton’s views have changed and matured in the intervening time, and perhaps, with greater experience, she would now have the confidence to refuse the judge’s request.
When judging who is truly ‘best’ for women, it is also important to look at policy, and Hillary has a number specifically designed to help women achieve equality. Her policies for women are a mixture of issues that she acknowledges affects them more but will benefit all genders – such as raising the minimum wage, which proportionally more women live on – and female-specific policy, such as incorporating global gender equality into her foreign policy. Despite historic slights against women, and her involvement in the rape case, Hillary Clinton aims to improve women’s future as President, and that should count for something.
Donald Trump’s record and plans are very different. The most publicly-noted bit of misogyny of late is the recently-released video of his discussion with Billy Bush in 2005. In the clip, he claims that his ‘stardom’ means that he is able to “Grab [women] by the pussy. You can do anything.” He is clearly referring to undertaking such an action without consent. On the surface, possibly, the comments are less severe than defending an alleged rapist – assuming one takes them as untruths. Unfortunately, however, Trump constantly belittles and verbally assaults women, and his frequent sexism can be easily tracked from the 1990s to the present day. Furthermore, he has now been accused by over ten different women of sexual assault, and is facing a court date following allegations of child rape from 1994. With his 2005 comments put into the context of all this, suddenly they are more than crass, careless sexism – they take on the feeling of an admission of, and pride in, historical sexual assault. To add to this, Trump does not outline any policies in his campaign which are specifically designed to benefit women. And, while the claims against him may turn out to be untrue, the fact remains that he has continuously degraded women throughout his career, and continues to do so, even whilst running for President. Surely he cannot be expected to champion women upon being elected.
Donald Trump is undoubtedly the inferior candidate when examining the two in relation to women and women’s issues. Hillary’s misogyny is limited and historical, and mostly surrounds instances where her husband either conducted affairs or was accused of assault or rape. The earliest instance, her defence of a rapist in court, was not only professionally thrust upon her, but also happened when Clinton was just 28. Trump, meanwhile, is an accused rapist, is further accused of sexual assault, and continuously verbally abuses women. Where Clinton’s misogyny stopped, Trump’s is relentless. If he makes it to the White House, it will surely be a sad day for America’s women.