Why Donald Trump’s presidency is a wake-up call for women everywhere 

By Sarah Cannata

Fat. Pig. Disgusting animal. 

It’s incredibly difficult to find the silver lining in a situation where a man who levels these words at women is elected as the President of the United States. And yet, Donald Trump’s objectification of women merely forms background noise in a White House defined by chaos and an unquenchable thirst to make news headlines for all the wrong reasons to date.

The impact

Many of us still recall the strange emptiness that engulfed so many women across the globe in the days that immediately followed Trump’s shock victory – although, perhaps it wasn’t so shocking to those living outside of our Aussie bubble and the media who revelled in depicting the president-to-be as one big joke. Looking back on that period, being gifted a lone candle was perhaps prophetic and symbolic of the flickers of hope we continue to see in the new wave of feminism sweeping the world post Trump’s election.

If there was one moment in 2017 that had women around the world beaming with pride, it was the news that Trump’s inauguration was outnumbered by the Women’s March, which was roughly three times its size. A trail of women donning pink knitted hats and sporting signs that read, “Keep your tiny hands off my rights,” marked what can only be described as a historic event as millions of women united in global solidarity.

Quality investigative journalism

On a far more sombre but equally meaningful note, The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow, reminded us of the power of quality investigative journalism by breaking the story that saw multiple women sharing their harrowing alleged accounts of assault and harassment at the hands of notorious film executive, Harvey Weinstein. The disturbing accounts triggered a global discussion about sexual harassment in the workplace and an avalanche of similar tales from women working in Hollywood. Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, Louis C.K, Matt Lauer… the names responsible for alleged sexual crimes against both women and men continue making headlines and there’s no doubt there’s more to come. Earlier this month, 300 prominent actresses, female agents, writers, directors, producers and executives have banded together to fight sexual harassment in Hollywood.

#MeToo

Perhaps more purposeful in terms of changing the lives for women working across every industry was the #MeToo campaign that erupted off the back of The New Yorker article. Dedicated to raising awareness of sexual harassment and assault and proving the power of social media yet again, the scenario also led to the resurfacing of the 19 women who had previously accused Trump of alleged sexual misconduct. While many of these women initially came forward after the release of an Access Hollywood tape in October 2016 that was flippantly dismissed as “locker room banter” at the time, it remains to be seen if Trump is held to account for perpetuating this dangerous behaviour that is targeted largely towards women. A Democrats win in the 2018 mid-term US elections might just see Trump feeling very hot under the collar.

Down Under

Closer to home, fearless journalists including Tracey Spicer and Jenna Price, led the charge in reporting on alleged sexual harassment in the media. A joint ABC/Fairfax investigation claimed our nation’s first big scalp with Don Burke, a long running fixture on Australian TV and the former host of the much-loved Burke’s Backyard, facing numerous allegations. As expected, Burke is denying the claims and participated in what can only be described as a woeful interview response on A Current Affair (who else would love to see Burke interviewed by the ABC’s Leigh Sales?). Burke, who has been labelled as being everything from a “psychotic bully” to a “misogynist,” even had the gall to bring a self-diagnosed Asperger’s excuse into the discussion, which drew much disgust from advocacy groups and rightfully so.

A similar ABC/Fairfax major investigation, released earlier this week, has revealed that a number of female cast members of the 2014 Rocky Horror Show are alleging they were abused, harassed or assaulted by renowned Aussie actor, Craig McLachlan. The actor is denying the allegations, claiming they are made-up and it remains to be seen how this latest round of allegations plays out in the days to come.

Cold hard truth

There is no mincing words in relation to these issues: they are vulgar and incredibly difficult to absorb and digest. It’s all very uncomfortable to take in as it all should be, however, make no mistake, all of the above is playing an important role in changing the future for the generations to come. To enable people to work in any industry where they can build a career and aspire to make it to the top, without fearing those in high places who are committed to the destructive abuse of their power.

As for Trump, although it would be an outrageous claim that we should be thankful for his election victory, it has proven momentous. So many people and women prone to sitting back with the belief that everything will be okay, have been shocked into action. Change is never inevitable, we have to fight for it so if nothing else, we should thank Trump for the crude wake-up call.

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