As a country, we’ve finally made it through all three presidential debates. The matches were tense and personal, which gave us a deep look at the candidates’ characters. One resorted to insult, accusation and primal displays of arrogance while the other prioritized policy over performance.
She may not make great TV, but Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is the model of poise and compassion in the face of ugliness. During the second and third debates, Clinton heatedly challenged Republican nominee Donald Trump’s mistreatment of women. She admonished his unforgiving position for women who receive abortions and condemned his alleged sexual misconduct. Call me biased, but I don’t blame her for her indignation. Throughout her career and even on the debate stage, she has repeatedly faced sexist indignities of the sort that Trump has perpetrated.
There is no issue that so distinguishes them as gender equality. Every wound that Trump has inflicted on women’s dignity and equality is fundamentally contrasted by Clinton’s plans to institutionalize equality.
Clinton’s dedication to gender equality has always been in the foreground of her career. As First Lady in the 1990s, Clinton helped establish the National Campaign to End Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Once elected as senator of New York, Clinton carried out similar work by expanding access to emergency contraception and voting to strengthen women’s independence over their healthcare.
Unfortunately, our right to choose is still on the ballot as Trump threatens the progress towards equality that Clinton has long fought for. The debate over abortion remains heated and divisive — Trump even suggested in March during a forum with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that women who seek abortions should face “some sort of punishment,” though he later retracted the statement.
Electing Clinton would ensure that does not happen. She would secure our right to choose, because she trusts women to make their own decisions. She has collaborated with Planned Parenthood to protect the affordable health care it provides. Her fight for women’s access to contraception, preventative care and legal abortion would continue in office. It’s important to note that Clinton — and, I might add, Lorain County’s own State Representative Dan Ramos — has received overwhelming support from pro-choice organizations, including NARAL Pro-Choice.
In addition to securing women’s reproductive rights, Clinton is a fierce advocate for paid parental leave. The issue has taken something of a backseat in this election, yet according to a 2015 Boston Globe article, 25 percent of American mothers return to work two weeks after childbirth. It’s an insensitive expectation we hold for American mothers. Though several presidential nominees have promised paid maternity leave, none of them could compete with Clinton’s ability to deliver. In 1993, she fought for the Family and Medical Leave Act, which now provides eligible families with up to 12 weeks of paid leave. She pushed similar legislation as a senator and worked to guarantee paid parental leave for all federal employees.
The wage gap has also been astonishingly absent from political conversation. Women constitute nearly half of the American workforce, yet full-time female workers earn 81 cents to each dollar earned by men, according to a fall 2016 study by the American Association of University Women. The AAUW also reported that Black women were paid only 63 percent of white men’s wages in 2015. Clinton will work to end this. She plans to reintroduce the Paycheck Fairness Act that she first sponsored as a senator, which would allow workers to sue employers for wage discrimination. She has vowed to raise the minimum wage and lift minimum-wage earners out of poverty, two-thirds of whom are female, according to the National Women’s Law Center.
Over the past 16 months, we’ve caught glimpses into the mind of a man who thinks he should be our president. Trump regularly objectifies women and gloated about sexually harassing women in a 2005 recording of a conversation with Billy Bush. Concerns over women’s rights are often regarded as nuisances — or worse, exaggerations. Yet these issues affect every American woman to some degree. We cannot neglect these inequities. And, based on her history and her platform, we can trust that Clinton won’t.
Women face real opposition in the U.S.; Trump’s vast following is evidence of that. But that can change. We can work for the future that Hillary Clinton promises and make real progress against misogyny.