You have done the world a vastly important service, Donald, by letting us know how very, very much remains to be done before women share their half of the sky.
We had become complacent. About the fact that at least a majority of women in the US were sexually molested, many of them beginning when their age was measured in single digits. About the lengthening list of women who tell us that Donald Trump forced himself on them, by unwanted kissing and groping. And men on busses and subways grabbed at them, even exposing themselves. By unwanted propositions, bragging, threats. About the endless unwanted catcalls to every woman on the street.
Conditions for most women in the Western world, particularly the US, are bad, but conditions elsewhere are unforgivable. In much of the world women are viewed as equivalent to livestock, as cheap commodities, to be used, abused, and discarded at the whim of men who are often their inferiors, but imagine they are superior.
We had forgotten about the father who buried his daughter alive because a boy looked at her. We had forgotten about how new brides who displeased their in laws were doused with fuel and set afire in a “kitchen accident”. How women who were criminally violated were murdered by brothers to preserve “honor”. How wives were divorced with a simple proclamation, whereas the unhappy and abused wife had no such option, and would be left penniless and homeless by him. How any male in the family was free to beat any female. About the many places where women owned nothing, and when their husband died they were left destitute, called witches, and shunned. How the kitchen is seen as the only place a woman is allowed to be, even wives of state rulers.
While many young women in the US view virginity as something to be disposed of at the earliest opportunity, they don’t view their bodies as something available to any man who decides he wants it. They don’t want to be drugged at some wild fraternity party and gang-raped. They don’t want to be raped, period, because rape is a violent invasion of a woman’s body, and a woman being raped doesn’t even know if she will also be murdered.
Donald Trump is a disgusting individual with not even vague redeeming values. He’s a liar, a cheat, a philanderer, a foul-mouthed braggart, a tax cheat, and much more. But there are plenty of other men not much better. Men whose income, perhaps, makes them think that they are at humankind’s pinnacle, and therefore they are entitled to take whichever woman they want, and treat her however they want. Men who achieve something, and come to believe they are not required to honor basic human values like honesty, trust, and love.
There are also macho-manly men, whose egos are so fragile they cannot let their wives work, lest they begin to feel even a little bit independent, who would feel betrayed if they earned less than their wives. Too many men believe it is their prerogative to beat their wives to keep them in their place, and even to injure them so badly they are hospitalized.
In some parts of the world the toxic machismo among so many men in the US is seen as tragic, as a terrible flaw that poisons relations between spouses, making divorce much too easy and, with all our guns, tragedy all too common.
The most important part of feminism is the realization that women are every bit as smart and talented as men. Men’s imagined superiority is nonsense. What this means is that, to the extent that women are held back, we are losing the benefit of their abilities. Our world is the lesser for it. Our lives are impoverished because of it.
In too many societies that means nearly half of the benefits they might have, those from women’s talents, are lost completely. How many women are stifled from becoming the scientists, surgeons, artists, composers, states-persons, philosophers, writers, and so on, they might have become? What forces are purposely used to suppress their talents? There are several, including religion, tradition, machismo, and others.
We are moving in the right direction, but far too slowly, and sexual abuse of every sort and pointless attempts to confine and limit women hold back progress for us all.