We have hand lengthy discussions both in class and on this blog about whether Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton is better for feminists. However, what we have not discussed is which of the Republican presidential candidates is best for women and women's rights. In this blog, I largely focused on the candidates' views on family leave, reproductive rights, and how they talk to and discuss women.
It is difficult to pin down exactly why Donald Trump is bad for women (other than the fact that he is a misogynist who somehow still believes he is God's gift to the world and to women) because it is stunningly hard to actually know where he stands on policy issues. Indeed, even the "Issues" section of his own website is incredibly vague. His "Issues" pages include videos on: "Competent Leadership," "Live Free of Die," "Political Correctness," "Unifying the Nation," and "The Establishment."
Honestly, I could not bring myself to watch any of the videos because I do not want to watch or listen to Donald Trump for that long nor do I want to give him the satisfaction of another viewer.
Sadly, news articles and even his own speeches do not clarify his position on women's rights issues. There have been articles about Trump being the "Best Republican PresidentialCandidate on Women's Health Issues" or, conversely, articles about Trump being the "Worst Candidate for Women's Rights." In his Super Tuesday speech, Trump said, "I'm going to be good for women, and women's health issues." However, almost immediately following this (baffling) statement, Trump went on to say that he intendeds to defund Planned Parenthood. This statement itself contradicts Trump's previous statements praising Planned Parenthood for the work they do for women's health (minus their providing a place for safe and legal abortions of course). Additionally, Trump has stated that though he is pro-life he does support abortion exceptions in instances of incest or rape or if the life of the mother is in danger.
When asked about his thoughts on paid family leave, Trump yet again gave a typical noncommittal answer: "Well it's something that's being discussed, I think we have to keep our country very competitive, so you have to be careful of it. But certainly there are a lot of people discussing it."
So, essentially I have no idea where Trump stands on any issue, let alone issues largely effecting women. However, what I do know however, is that Trump consistently treats women with disrespect and condescension while simultaneously sexualizing and belittling them. A man who has no real position on any issues and who seems incapable of treating others with basic human decency is not a president who will be good for any of his constituents, and especially not for women.
Cruz's website has a much more detailed "Issues" sections than Trumps, which makes his stance on certain issues much more well defined. According to his "Life, Marriage and Family" page, Cruz believes that life is a precious gift from God which "[e]xtreme leftists" are trying to "extinguish." The site then states that if "Ted" is elected president on his first day in office he will instruct his Attorney General to investigate Planned Parenthood (even though his own home state of Texas has already cleared the organization of any wrongdoing). The page then goes on to list Cruz’s “accomplishments” including: fighting to take away taxpayer dollars from PlannedParenthood, leading the charge for 13 states to ban "partial birth abortion" (medically known as "intact dilation and extraction"), and defending New Hampshire’s parental-notification laws.
For someone who is so pro women having children (even when the pregnancy is a result of rape) Cruz does not support a federal family leave policy, though he does seem to support the concept personally.
Surprisingly, Marco Rubio does appear to be in favor of paid family leave and he actually lays out a plan which would allow for a 25% non-refundable tax credit for businesses that "voluntarily offer" a minimum of four weeks paid family leave.
Rubio was a cosponsor on the legislation introduced to defund Planned Parenthood. He was also one of the senators who introduced the Religious Freedom Restoration Act which moved to repeal the free contraceptives women could receive as part of the Affordable Care Act. He defended his “pro-life” position by saying "One the one and is the right of a woman to choose what to do with her body - which is a real right- and on the other hand is the right of an unborn child to live... As a lawmaker I must choose which one of these two sides takes precedence and I have chosen to err on the side of life." Thus dismissing a woman's legal right to her own body. Though this position makes more sense when you hear that apparently Rubio believes there is scientific "unanimity that human life begins at conception" (which many a doctor would obviously vehemently disagree with).
So, essentially, Rubio supports women making less then men, not having access to contraceptives, getting pregnant because they do not have access to free or affordable contraceptives, not being able to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, and giving birth. But hey, at least he will maybe, potentially, encourage some employers to give you four weeks of maternity leave.
According to his website, as Governor of Ohio, Kasich helped to provide for state funding for rape crisis centers. However, the site also goes on to say that during his eighteen years in Congress, Kasich regularly opposed federal funding for abortions and voted to ban “partial-birth abortions.” Just this past week he signed a bill which prohibits Ohio from "contracting for health services with any organization that performs or promotes abortions." Such a bill will almost certainly have a devastating effect on women's access to health services.
Additionally, Kasich believes that it should be up to employers to determine if their employees get paid family leave. The only solution he has really offered to address this issue it giving women the flexibility to work from home and telecommute. While this suggestion has merit for some parents, it completely ignores those who work in industries were this is either impractical or impossible.
Kasich also recently made the blunder of saying that he was elected to office in part because “women…left their kitchens” for him.
So, none of the Republican candidates appear to actually be "good" for women. In deciding between candidates, Republican voters who are concerned about the rights of women can only choose the least terrible of the candidates.