War on Women Report No. 19

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.

Monday, 3/19

+ On Monday, Donald Trump’s second son Eric Trump shared a tweet defending gun access by claiming shooting “taught [him] so many positive life lessons.” His tweet ignores notable racial biases that control who is able to own and shoot guns and not be perceived as dangerous, and comes in advance of this weekend’s nationwide marches for gun law reform in the wake of the mass shooting that left 17 dead in Parkland, Florida last month. Just this week, an unarmed black man in Sacramento was shot by police in his own backyard when they thought his cell phone was a gun; in 2016, police officers publicly executed Philando Castile, who had legally been carrying a gun.

+ Also on Monday, the president ignited a firestorm on Twitter when he issued a series of tweets delegitimizing special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. A number of female lawmakers, led by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, offered the strongest response to Trump’s threats to obstruct justice, with Feinstein calling for regulations protecting Mueller’s investigation to be codified into legislation. Mueller’s investigation has thus far uncovered evidence that Russian “troll farms” gamed social media and search engine algorithms to spread sexist and racist fake news stories in order to push Trump to victory in the presidential election and defeat Hillary Clinton.

Tuesday, 3/20

+ On Tuesday, first lady Melania Trump hosted a summit about cyberbullying at the White House, just days before her husband would go on Twitter to call former vice president Joe Biden “crazy” and “weak,” adding that in a fight, “[Biden] would go down fast and hard, crying all the way.” The irony of Melania’s chosen special issue of cyberbullying should be clear with her husband’s pattern of online depravity, including suggesting Kirsten Gillibrand performed sexual favors in exchange for campaign funding.

+ A judge in New York Tuesday ruled that the president has no grounds to stop a woman accusing him of abuse from moving forward with her defamation suit. Summer Zervos, a former Apprentice contestant, in 2016 alleged Trump had groped and forcibly kissed her on multiple occasions—and after Trump called Zervos and the some 20 other women who have publicly accused him “liars,” Zervos sued him for defamation. Also on Tuesday, Playboy model Karen McDougal came forward claiming she and Trump had had a 10-month extramarital affair, and she sued the National Enquirer for the right to speak publicly about it. According to McDougal, Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen had conspired with American media companies to silence her.

+ The Trump administration moved forward with a Justice Department memo calling for the unconstitutional implementation of the death penalty for drug dealers Tuesday. The memo mirrored sentiments Trump expressed at a rally earlier this month: “If you shoot one person, they give you life, they give you the death penalty. These [drug traffickers] can kill 2,000, 3,000 people and nothing happens to them,” he said. Such a policy shift holds obvious implications for people of color; while drug use is relatively equal in different communities across racial lines, people of color are exponentially more likely to face legal consequences for drug possession, use, or dealing, which is a driving force of mass incarceration of black and brown people.

+ Speaking of members of Trump’s cabinets working to codify bigotry and intolerance, Housing and Urban Development secretary Ben Carson, fresh off a scandal involving $31,000 in taxpayer dollars and office furniture, spoke out against allowing trans and gender queer people in homeless shelters, claiming they made cisgender women unsafe and uncomfortable in defense of his decision to remove anti-discrimination training material from the HUD’s website. The reality is that trans people are far more likely to be the targets than the perpetrators of assault or harassment in public facilities, and this demographic is disproportionately affected by homelessness and housing insecurity. Sexual assault and women’s safety has never really meant much to lawmakers who work alongside Trump unless the perpetrators aren’t cisgender men—after all, they’ve opposing increased funding for rape kits, argued against lowered standards of evidence for campus sexual assault survivors and elected him president.

Wednesday, 3/21

+ On Wednesday, Politico reported an HHS website, WomensHealth.gov, had deleted a page about health care options for lesbian and bisexual women. The website maintains pages about some 100 other health topics.

Thursday, 3/22

+ On Thursday, the House approved a budget that denied a request from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to slash billions of dollars in funding for grants for low-income students, after-school programs, resources for the Office of Civil Right, and mental health services in order to invest in private schools. It should be clear who would be most affected by such funding cuts: low-income students and families of color, and women, LGBTQ, differently abled people and other marginalized groups who rely on support from the OCR.

Friday, 3/23

+ On Friday, President Trump left D.C. for yet another trip to Mar-a-Lago—ostensibly to escape the March for Our Lives protest that will be taking place near the White House on Saturday. Trump has thus far been no ally to students and organizers demanding common-sense gun control to prevent future gun-related tragedies, but at the very least, they’ve received impassioned support from former President Barack Obama.



Kylie Cheung writes about reproductive and survivor justice, and is the author of Survivor Injustice: State-Sanctioned Abuse, Domestic Violence, and the Fight for Bodily Autonomy, available Aug. 15.