Equal Pay Day – yet equality and human rights couldn’t be more under threat

| No responses | Posted by: Glenys Thornton | Theme: Inequality Dynamics & Changemaking

Well there goes another woman best qualified for the job seeing it going to the unqualified man, even though in this case she landed the majority of the popular vote.

And today is Equal Pay Day – the day we recognise that women are paid 18.1% less than men.

We know, particularly in politics, the undoubted fact that a woman seeking power is judged far more harshly than any man. Jenny Russell says in the Guardian:

“You only had to watch Clinton’s performance in the debates to see how controlled and careful she had to be not to alienate viewers. She had to smile, because women must be nice, but not too much, because smiling can be placatory and weak. She could never be angry, even when Trump jeered at her or lied, because that would make her a bitch. She had to screen her emotions and her reactions, which added to the impression that she was an untrustworthy fake.”

It would be easy to put Hillary Clinton’s defeat largely down to misogyny. As we know it is not that simple. However we can say with certainty some shocking and depressing challenges to accepted human rights and equalities norms have emerged from this campaign and its results.

It is not just that Donald Trump is at ease with his misogyny, and it is not just about women. His conduct challenges the very basis of the ‘equal’ world that western liberal democracies have taken for granted over many years. The EU, the UK, the UN and USA have adopted over many years, and with varying degrees of effectiveness and applicability, strong legislative frameworks on race, disability, gender, sexuality and religion discrimination.  Donald Trump’s behaviour, what he said and how he said it and what he clearly believes about his fellow citizens who are not like him rebuts all of this.

That “grab ’em by the pussy”  line was supposed to have ended Donald Trump’s campaign for presidency, and indeed almost anywhere in the western world should have led to a political career biting the dust.  Instead it turned out to be one of the most astonishing and successful strategies for the highest office we have seen. In a campaign based on racism, misogyny and bullying, Trump proved that boasting about sexually assaulting women, far from ruining a man’s career, can boost it; and depressingly white women voted for him in droves.

The first black American president will now be succeeded by a man endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan. So how will this man with everything he has said in the last year reach out to the Latino and immigrant community? Will he end his divisive talk of high walls and mass deportations? How will he reach out to women and disabled people, both targets of his vicious barbs and crude language? What will he say to the African Americans, whom he all but ignored? How will he end his Muslim bashing at home and abroad?

Will he feel compelled to do so as his Presidency begins? And if he does feel that he should, having appealed to the most base instincts in his campaign, the sexism, racism and brutality, how could  he actually roll back from the damage already done?




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