When the guy caught bragging about sexual assault gets elected, his voice regarding the issue on campus falls mostly on deaf ears. When he claims he’s concerned for the LGBTQ+ community, then chooses Mike Pence for his running mate—a man known for anti-gay rhetoric—it’s another indication that his promises to protect women may be more than he is able to do.
Trump may not believe what he says about women’s rights, care for minorities and concern about LGBTQ+ individuals, but if that’s the case, he’s being manipulated by those he is putting in place to help him. Whether he is intentionally being deceitful is irrelevant—his past behavior and controversial choices will create an unsafe environment for many people, including university-aged women.
Why—Despite What You Hear—Trump’s Choices Matter
What’s perhaps the most disconcerting in this fray is the empty seat on the Supreme Court. Republicans have been blocking President Obama’s choice to replace Antonin Scalia for months. Now, with the full backing of a Republican Congress, Trump’s possible replacement could have huge repercussions, and he seems to be leaning towards building his cabinet on Tea Party Republicans, suggesting that his choice for the Supreme Court might lean far to the right. It’s also likely that, during his term as president, he would replace a second Supreme Court Justice.
Because Supreme Court Justices sit for their lifetimes, the decision Trump makes could affect the United States for years to come. He joked early in the election cycle that he might replace Scalia with his sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry. Such an appointment, along with promises to put his children in Cabinet positions, will make the United States look more like a dynasty than a democracy.
Consider the power of SCOTUS. In their Roe vs. Wade landmark decision, abortion became safe and legal in the U.S. for the first time. Title IX, which states that no one can legally be discriminated against on the basis of sex, was also a SCOTUS ruling, and today protects millions of Americans. More recently, the Court, in a 5-4 ruling, decided that same-sex marriage was legal. If Trump continues this pattern of behavior and appoints Justices willing to overturn these decisions, many people would feel less safe.
How Trump is Building His Cabinet
The truth is, for most pro-choice voters, his sister as a Supreme Court Justice wouldn’t be the scariest pick. He seems to be filling his cabinet with controversial choices, many of whom rile up the other half of the country, those who didn’t vote for him and who are protesting in the streets after his victory.
For instance, Stephen K. Bannon, an executive at Breitbart’s alt-right news company, was extremely supportive of Trump during his campaign. Trump rewarded his positive airtime by appointing him White House Chief Strategist. Many claim Bannon has ties with white supremacist groups, though he says he’s been painted with “too broad a brush.” The fallout of this is yet to be seen.
Anxiety on Campuses in the Aftermath of a Trump Presidency
For women who have been traumatized, the idea of a self-professed predator in the Oval Office may elicit fear. Though the president’s not a king, he or she does influence culture. And what many women see is a culture of rape, white male privilege and violence. Even before Trump has been sworn in, many women are experiencing true medical anxieties—and their fears aren’t unfounded.
For women who are in college—already ever aware of themselves as targets—a Trump presidency means new levels of self-protection. Traditional wisdom tells young women not to drink at parties, to wear less-revealing clothes and to always be in control. It would be nice if college campuses could change this dialogue. Let’s stop telling women how to dress, and start educating young men on how not to rape women.
With a POTUS who not only doesn’t care but is willing to partake in this behavior himself, women are left unprotected at all levels of the legal system. So we will fight. We will fight for our freedom, our bodily autonomy, our rights as human beings. We will push forward in our fight against sexual assault and all forms of violence against women, even when we feel that our voices aren’t being heard.