During Women’s History Month, the Trump administration frequently highlighted how much it values and supports women. However, it simultaneously proposed plans to undercut and defund important women’s health care funding and educational initiatives for girls.
It is entirely paradoxical to take action that strips women of government protections while extolling the role of women in society. But for President Donald Trump, this is nothing new. During his campaign, Trump bombarded women with misogynistic and sexist comments, and then doubled back to say that he cherishes women.
According to a Washington Post tally, Trump’s insult-then-compliment routine happened at least 21 times over the course of his campaign. One memorable example was when Trump implied that journalist Megyn Kelly was on her period when she asked him a difficult question during a debate, then spoke out and said, “I cherish women. I want to help women. I’m going to do things for women that no other candidate will be able to do.”
The same pattern has materialized during his presidency. However, instead of verbally disparaging women, Trump’s presidential power now allows his administration to strip women of positive government programs and benefits, and then spew propaganda that his administration helps women.
On March 27, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence offered remarks celebrating female small business owners. Trump said, “I know how crucial women are as job creators, role models and leaders all throughout our communities.”
Ironically, only four days before, Trump and Pence sat in a room with 28 men and proposed eliminating mammograms and maternity care from the essential benefits of the Republican bill to replace the Affordable Care Act. If Trump values women’s leadership so much, why did he not have more women in the room when his administration was negotiating women’s health care funding?
On March 28, Ivanka Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos appeared at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., to discuss empowering young women to pursue careers relating to Science, Tehchnology, Engineering and Mathematics. What Ivanka Trump did not mention was how Trump has proposed decreasing NASA funding and specifically eliminating NASA’s education office, which oversees efforts to support women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields.
On March 29, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said during his daily press briefing, “The president made women’s empowerment a priority throughout the campaign.” Spicer, unsurprisingly, left out how on the campaign trail Trump said he likes to grab women “by the pussy,” called former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman” and suggested that Americans watch a sex tape of former Miss Universe contestant Alicia Machado.
This all amounts to a pattern that is easy enough to follow. Whenever Trump claims to “support” and “cherish” women, it is most likely an attempt to distract from his administration’s attacks on women’s health care or other benefits.
It was also last month, when Trump officials rang in Women’s History Month by exalting remarks about Trump’s support for women, that the Trump administration dealt its largest blow to women’s health care. On Thursday, Pence broke the tie in the Senate to pass a bill that returns to states the power to exclude health care centers from receiving Title X money set aside for family planning and preventative health services.
It is important to note that Title X money never went toward abortions, as mandated by the Hyde Amendment. Instead, this money went toward services such as cancer screenings and family planning services for women, and cutting it will particularly affect low-income women.
So Trump and his officials can keep telling us how much they “cherish” and “support” women. Until they actually start promoting policies that aim to improve women’s well-being instead of directly harming it, we should see those words for what they truly are: lies and diversion tactics.
Emma Lux is a junior in the College. STILL HERE appears every other Tuesday.