War on Women Report No. 13

The War on Women is in full force under the Trump administration. We refuse to go back, and we refuse to let the administration quietly dismantle the progress we’ve made. We are watching. 

This is the War on Women Report.

Peter Cedric Rock Smith / Creative Commons

Last week

+ Carl Higbie resigned as chief of external affairs for the federal government’s volunteer service organization last week following a CNN report exposing his long record of anti-Muslim, racist, homophobic, transphobic and misogynistic commentary. “I bet you can guess what color they are,” Higbie said of a low-income family with multiple children in his condo association. “I’m not afraid of them,” he said of Muslims at a condo board meeting, “I don’t like them. Big difference.” (He added: “They were like, ‘well, you’re racist.’ I was like, fine if that’s the definition of it, then I guess I am.'”)

Monday 1/22

+ Monday saw the anticlimactic conclusion of the weekend’s brief government shutdown, which came about due to a White House and GOP-wide refusal to compromise on DACA with lawmakers insistent on clarifying the status of the students protected by the Obama-era program.

Tuesday 1/23

+ On Tuesday, President Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump made an appearance on Fox & Friends to disparage protesters at the weekend’s Women’s March. Lara claimed that many of the protesters—despite their signs with clear political messages about reproductive rights, sexual assault, immigration and myriad other feminist causes—didn’t even “know why” they were protesting. “It was more of a hateful anti-Trump protest,” she said, “which I think is really sad because this president has done so much for women.” Lara, who is married to Eric Trump, was unable to give an example on the air of what the president had done for women.

Wednesday 1/24

+ On Wednesday, Bloomberg released a report alleging that Trump allows British PM Theresa May up to 10 seconds before interrupting her on phone calls. The allotted time he gives her to try and make any point ranges from five to 10 seconds, according to the report, which made no such allegations about Trump’s behavior in conversation with male leaders. From a man whose commentary about women seems limited to their appearances or race and ethnicity, not to mention someone whose cabinet is predominantly male, this disrespect for female authority is less than surprising.

+ The Senate confirmed former drug industry executive Alex Azar to lead the Health and Human Services Department Wednesday. Azar’s appointment is concerning amid a national crisis of rising drug costs—as is his stance on protecting “the health and well-being of all Americans, and this includes the unborn.” In addition to his opposition to abortion rights, Azar also expressed support for the Trump administration’s repeal of the contraceptive mandate—an Obama-era policy that allowed 55 million women to access co-pay-free birth control, saving them $1.4 billion annually. Without the mandate, employers and insurers can freely cite their religious or personal beliefs to discriminate against women.

+ In an immigration plan shared Wednesday, the Trump administration announced it would be willing to allow 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children to become legal residents and apply for U.S. citizenship—in exchange for an initial $25 billion in funding for a wall along the U.S. / Mexico border and cuts to legal immigration programs. Women are hit hardest by some of the suggested cuts to so-called “chain immigration,” which is a new term Trump and the GOP use to reference the longstanding program of family-based immigration programs.

+ On Wednesday, the NAACP filed a lawsuit to overturn the Department of Homeland Security‘s decision to negate Temporary Protected Status for Haitians in 2019. TPS is a program protecting undocumented immigrants from deportation and allowing them to legally work in the United States due to conditions in their home countries. The lawsuit is particularly notable because it cites Trump’s language regarding Haiti, which he reportedly called a “sh-thole country” in an immigration meeting earlier this month. “Why do we need more Haitians?” the president reportedly asked, suggesting the United States accept more immigrants from majority white countries like Norway instead.

Thursday 1/25

+ After recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last year, Trump is now aiming to punish Palestine for boycotting his Israel-Palestine peace negotiations. “That money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace,” Trump said Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. According to Al Jazeera, aid for Palestine goes to “support in food supply, access to education, healthcare, social services and employment.” In taking away this funding to punish Palestine for not negotiating—notably, after Trump installed conditions that all but made negotiation impossible—the poor and vulnerable there will now shoulder the consequences.

+ On Thursday, advocacy groups for sexual assault survivors filed a lawsuit against the Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education, calling on them to reinstate Obama-era policies which lowered the standard of evidence for those reporting assault and provided other crucial rights to survivors on campuses. SurvJustice in Washington, D.C., Equal Rights Advocates in San Francisco, Calif. and the Victim Rights Law Center in Portland, Ore. are the plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. They claim the Title IX rollback amounts to discrimination against students who report assault, who often aren’t able to provide evidence beyond their testimonies of their experiences. According to the lawsuit, the Education Department is enforcing “discriminatory–and baseless–gender stereotype that many women and girls lack credibility with regard to sexual harassment.”

Friday 1/26

+ In an interview with with the British television show Good Morning Britain Friday, Trump attempted to distance himself from a UK-based radical racist group despite having shared their Islamophobic videos on his Twitter account last November. Asked about why he had retweeted videos from a group known to be militantly racist, Trump said: “Of course I didn’t know that. I don’t know who they are. I know nothing about them, so I wouldn’t be doing that.” Trump then added that “I would certainly apologize if you’d like me to do that,” a first in a year’s time of advocates pressuring Trump to apologize for allying himself with white nationalists and supremacists—communities he said were full of “very fine people” after racist violence broke out last year at a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville.

Kylie Cheung is an editorial intern at Ms. She writes about feminism in politics and pop culture with a focus on reproductive justice. Her work appeared in Rewire, Teen Vogue, The Mary Sue and Mediaite, among others.

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