Trump: A clear and present danger to women and to democracy
Former advice columnist E. Jean Carroll walks into Manhattan federal court on April 25, 2023, in New York. Supporters crowd around her with placards targeting the predatory sexual behavior of former President Donald Trump. | Seth Wenig / AP

Earlier this week a nine-person, majority-male Manhattan jury found former Republican president Donald Trump guilty of sexually abusing writer and journalist E. Jean Carroll in the 1990s and for defaming her by claiming she was a liar.

Trump was found liable unanimously and ordered to pay Carroll a total of $5 million in compensatory and punitive damages. Twenty-four hours following this civil verdict, the corporate cable news network CNN hosted Trump in a nationally televised town hall, where he received a standing ovation from many of his right-wing supporters in the audience.

The juxtaposition of these events is but a reflection of Trump’s dangerous anti-women presidency, and the continued political battle for women’s rights that must be taken seriously in a country that still allows public figures such as him to hold office and sway over legislation.

At the CNN town hall after his conviction for sexual assault, he described a nightmare that would unfold across the country if he ever gained a second term. He said the country should default on its debts even as that would plunge the world economy into chaos, the chaos that fascists seek so they can use the ensuing fear to solidify their control. He said he would pardon the hundreds of criminals convicted for their part in the attempted coup on Jan 6, 2021.

In 2019 Carroll published an article in New York magazine which stated that Trump had sexually assaulted her in the mid-nineties. Carroll went into further details of the alleged incident in her published book What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal.

Following the allegations Trump went on the defensive, claiming he had never met Carroll before (despite photographic evidence to the contrary) and that her allegations were part of a political “witch hunt” against him. Carroll would go on to sue Trump for battery in New York under the Adult Survivors Act, a law passed which briefly allows sexual assault victims to file civil suits regardless of expired statutes of limitations.

Artwork by @Adamtots / via Instagram

After a seven-day civil trial, the jury concluded on Tuesday that the ex-president did not rape Carroll, but they did find him liable for sexual abuse and defamation. This, of course, did not stop Trump from being allowed to call Carroll a liar on CNN the very next night.

Yet, this behavior by the ex-president is part of a bigger legacy connected to the anti-women legislation and judicial appointments that occurred under his leadership from 2016 to 2020, and the way his callous disregard for the voice of women has emboldened his Republican party to continue their legislative assault on the rights of half of the nation’s population.

Detrimental policies pushed

One year into his presidency, Trump signed an executive order revoking the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order promulgated by former president Barack Obama. This order was created in response to a 2010 Government Accountability Office investigation that showed that companies with rampant labor violations were being awarded millions of dollars in federal contracts.

This order was put in place to make sure that companies with federal contracts were complying with 14 labor and civil rights laws. Two rules included in this order greatly impacted women workers.

The first rule required paycheck transparency. This would ensure that all individuals were getting fair and equal wages for their work. The second rule was a ban on forced arbitration clauses for sexual harassment, sexual assault, and discrimination claims.

Arbitration is a private process where disputing parties agree to allow designated individuals to make a decision about the dispute after seeing evidence and hearing arguments. These private proceedings can be used as a way for companies with rampant incidents of sexual harassment and discrimination to keep these claims out of court. Thus, making it so fellow workers and the public are unaware of these problems and violations.

In 2017 the Trump-appointed Secretary of Education, Betsey DeVos, rescinded the Obama-era campus sexual assault guidelines, which required colleges to respond more promptly to allegations and hold perpetrators accountable. DeVos’s new rules on the matter narrowed the definition of sexual harassment and sought to allow accused students to question their alleged victims during live campus hearings.

The most notorious blow the Trump administration dealt to women’s rights came through the dismantling of the historic Roe v. Wade decision. Although the official overturning of Roe v. Wade did not happen under the Trump administration, his presidency provided the pathway to dismantling it by appointing extreme right-wing judges who did the dirty work.

Guts family planning programs

During his presidency, Trump sought to gut the Title X Family Planning Program of the many aspects that helped working and low-income families and women. Title X is the only federal grant program dedicated to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services.

In 2019 the Trump administration issued a domestic gag rule that prohibited providers that receive Title X funding (such as Planned Parenthood) from referring patients for abortion services, providing counseling related to abortion, or giving women full information about all of their sexual and reproductive health care options. The rule also required the physical separation between abortion services and other health services.

On an international scale, Trump exported his anti-women agenda in his first year in office by reinstating and expanding his Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy—commonly referred to as the Global Gag Rule. This policy restricted over eight billion dollars in U.S. foreign aid funding for international health programs that provide or even mention abortion in their materials.

As cited on, Trump defunded the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), a global maternal health organization that provides contraception and pregnancy care to low-income women in over 100 countries. And while the current Biden administration has rescinded this policy, researchers have found that the detrimental aftermath of its initial implementation is still being felt around the world. This has resulted in fewer forms of safe contraception and health care.

Through domestic and international policies such as these, the Trump administration worked to legitimize denying women full health care and freedom of choice.

Donald Trump made good on his promise to oppose abortion rights by packing the Supreme Court and circuit courts with his anti-abortion judicial picks who then went on to use their conservative majority to attack a woman’s right to choose. It was Trump who nominated three of the five conservative Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade: Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, and Neil Gorsuch.

When asked about overturning Roe v. Wade in 2016 while running for president, Trump is quoted as saying, “Well, if we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that’s really what’s going to be—that will happen. And that’ll happen automatically, in my opinion, because I am putting pro-life justices on the court. I will say this: It will go back to the states, and the states will then make a determination.”

The result of “going back to the states” has created situations in which children who are raped having to cross state borders to get health care and women being told to wait in parking lots until they go into sepsis and almost die before coming inside an emergency room for care.

Participants of the Women’s March descend on the White House, Jan. 18, 2020, in Washington, three years after the first march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump was sworn into office. | Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

After the overturn of the constitutional right to an abortion happened in 2022, Trump jumped on social media to celebrate—and take full credit—by stating, “[This decision was] only made possible because I delivered everything as promised, including nominating and getting three highly respected and strong Constitutionalists confirmed to the United States Supreme Court.”

The overturning of Roe v. Wade galvanized Republicans across the country to rev up their attempts to restrict a woman’s right regarding her body and reproductive health. As of today, a total of 19 states have moved to ban or restrict abortion following the Supreme Court’s decision to end all federal protections, with more likely on the way.

This was the attack on the nation’s women forged by Trump, a man now leading the polls in the Republican nomination for the presidency in 2024. It is a reflection of the fact that we live under a system that continues to lean into sexist ideologies to the detriment not just of women but of all working people. It is a strategy that the Republican party as a whole subscribes to, even if they continue to debate if Trump is currently “electable” or not.

After the civil court ruling, a number of Republican officials were asked their thoughts about Trump’s election chances. Many of them referred to the will of the voters, while meekly condemning sexual assault. Yet, it is clear, from the party’s actions in the past, that they have no problem supporting Trump if they believe his campaign to be “viable.”

They’ve known of his past on-record statements regarding grabbing women by their genitals. They’ve read of how his strategy, when it comes to accusations of sexual harassment and assault, is to “deny, deny, deny and push back on these women. If you admit to anything and any culpability, then you’re dead.”

The GOP knows Trump very well, and they will have no problem supporting his campaign for the presidency if they think they have a chance of actually winning the election. His recent conviction, and his open arms welcome by the corporate media at CNN, shows that despite his unapologetic anti-women presidency he will be allowed a spot in the political arena.

It will take the true will of the people who understand the danger to democracy, and the weight of his past presidency, to push for a different outcome.

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Chauncey K. Robinson
Chauncey K. Robinson

Chauncey K. Robinson is an award winning journalist and film critic. Born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, she has a strong love for storytelling and history. She believes narrative greatly influences the way we see the world, which is why she's all about dissecting and analyzing stories and culture to help inform and empower the people.