President Donald J. Trump did it again. He lambasted a female news reporter with a crude, bullying tweet on June 27. By attacking the appearance and intelligence of Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC’s show “Morning Joe,” he pinpointed the two top types of centuries-old condemnation of women.
Though his attack was immediately denounced — from women on both sides of the aisle in Congress to women’s, legal and human rights groups — Trump would not have touted his disgusting woman-hating if patriarchy were not one of the pillars of capitalism.
Women’s inequality in U.S.
Examples of women’s inequality in the U.S. begin with the pay gap. The latest statistics show that, overall, women make 80 cents for every dollar a white man makes, though women (and men) of color make even less. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimates it will take until 2059 for white women to reach pay parity, while Black women will wait until 2124 and Latinas until 2248. Outrageous theft!
That means all businesses, corporations and shops alike, steal at least 20 cents from every dollar a woman earns, boosting their profits. According to the Department of Labor’s latest statistics, as of 2010, women were 47 percent of the total U.S. labor force: 72 million workers, or 58.6 percent of the 123 million women age 16 years and over. Those 20 cents sure add up!
No wonder the ruling class doesn’t want legislation that guarantees ample parental leaves, free child care and universal health care. No wonder one of the main means that ciswomen have to take charge of their lives — birth control — is on the barricades. No wonder transwomen of color are targeted for transphobic assaults and murders. No wonder “every nine seconds a woman in the U.S. is assaulted or beaten,” reports the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, while Trump plans to cut funding to prevent it. No wonder U.S. capitalism flexes its military might to bully the rest of the world into doing its bidding, disproportionately affecting women and their children.
Use and abuse of power and control are part and parcel of capitalist class society — whether in the boardroom or the bedroom, whether through tax laws favoring the rich or low wages that keep poor people poor, whether it’s killer police or a brutal fist in the family. You cannot separate patriarchy — men’s claim on the right to control women as their private property — from capitalism, which maintains power through private ownership of property.
The fight continues
Trump’s appointment of Eric Dreiband on June 29 to head the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice is another example of his misogyny. Like all his appointees to the cabinet and various departments — who oppose the very premise of their office — Dreiband has spent his corporate career opposing civil rights. He not only represented the Roman Catholic archbishop of Washington, D.C., in the church’s 2014 case against the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit, but he defended the University of North Carolina in a lawsuit related to HB 2, the discriminatory “bathroom bill.”
Dreiband has “made a career going against women and LGBT rights,” said Jesselyn McCurdy, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington legislative office. Vanita Gupta, former head of the Civil Rights Division, said, “Whoever leads the ‘crown jewel’” of the DOJ “must have a deep, abiding faith in our nation’s civil rights laws … rights that people have literally died for.” She called Dreiband “woefully unqualified” because he has no experience in “voting rights, police reform, housing, education and hate crimes.” (Rewire, June 29)
It’s ironic that Trump’s continuing tweets against Mika Brzezinski and co-host Joe Scarborough, which are also viewed as attacks on freedom of speech, coincide with the country’s Fourth of July celebration. This national holiday usually involves effusive patriotism and nostalgic hoopla touting how wonderful this country is.
Yet on every international measurement scale, whether women’s representation in government, living standards, longevity or infant mortality, the United States is near the bottom of the list of 40 industrial nations.
Take infant mortality. A March 21 nbcnews.com report noted that the U.S. rate of deaths per 1,000 live births declined from 6.9 in 2005 to 5.8 in 2014 — a 15 percent decline, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. But it’s a national embarrassment that the rate in the nation’s capital, a largely Black city, is 7.9. Compare that to Cuba’s rate of 4.3 in 2016. (Cuban Ministry of Health, Jan. 1)
Why the difference? Cuba is a revolutionary socialist country that nationalized the big estates and businesses, many U.S.-owned, beginning in 1960, so it’s able to provide universal health care and free education, while striving to eradicate all forms of racism and chauvinism against women and LGBTQ people. It puts its resources where its principled politics are, despite Washington’s decades-long trading blockade.
While only revolutionary socialism can lay the basis to end all forms of oppression, including woman-hating, a lot can be, and has been, won under this system through struggle. When this writer first researched the wage gap in 1970, it was 59 cents on the dollar.
But it’s essential to remember that our hard-fought gains can be pushed back by reactionaries like Trump and his gang of warmongers and billionaires if we don’t keep fighting. They control the state, so uprooting that has to be our ultimate objective as we struggle to end sexism, racism, LGBTQ bias and all forms of exploitation and oppression.