Do I Respect Women? Yes.

by Jennifer Hall Lee

"Does she have a fat ass? Absolutely" - Donald Trump

Secretary of State Clinton with women from Lower Mekong Women's Initiative in 2012  Photo courtesy State Department by Paul Watzlavick

We are all wringing our hands. We are thirty nine days until election day and Hillary and Donald are the choices. Some people operate under tired cliches. They think that both of them are terrible candidates. Have we become a reality show?

We have Donald, an overtly sexist businessman who doesn't pay federal taxes and Hillary, a feminist politician who has fought successfully for women and children for over forty years. The race is close, if you can believe that. 

For the feminists of the 1980s who knew we would see a female president in our future, we didn't see this coming. We have faced tremendous pushback to women running for President and now we stand at the doorway of success.

Donald, her opponent, is the nominee of the Republican Party. How the mighty have fallen.

Character is a large part of being President, just ask any Reagan loving conservative, or any social justice liberal fighter. And yet, Donald Trump, a man with basically no character, is garnering a significant amount of votes. Just yesterday in Southern California's largest newspaper, The Los Angeles Times, we are introduced to another piece of his broken sense of how to treat other people, particularly female employees.

A lawsuit against the Trump National Golf Club located in the leafy green city of Palos Verdes was the subject of a 2005 Labor Relations suit. Some parts of the court records read like a John Grisham novel about discrimination against women. According to these documents, the Director of Catering said that she witnessed Trump tell managers that the women working there weren't "pretty enough" and that they should be "fired."

If you are steeped in television shock dramas and reality shows, you can shrug it off as inconsequential and say that's Trump being Trump. Well, there is an old-fashioned saying that often absolved boys from doing bad things; boys will be boys. This bouncy phrase is alive today and that's why Trump gets a lot of passes among his base.

How anyone can vote for Trump after hearing that he calls women "pigs" or judges their bodies as not being good enough is unthinkable to me. 

Let's look at this from a different angle. Look at this election from my point of view.

Almost every day we read another story about sexual assault of girls in schools or college campuses. Every parent who reads these stories can't help but think of their own daughters. Women are clearly still seen as objects for male consumption, despite our advances for women. Trump's words are evidence of this twisted value system. If he were to ever sit in the Oval Office his words would ring out across the globe. Let's imagine this particular Trump sentence vocalized from the White House, "I'd look her right in that fat ugly face of hers."

That would be heard by people in countries where so-called "honor killings" and rape are considered a male privilege.

On the other side of this election we have our Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who many people distrust, yet there are no lawsuits filed against her, although many have tried and failed. Her family's charity, unlike Trump's, has created big changes in the world such as lowering the cost of malarial drugs.

But there is one thing I can't seem to get out of my mind. I think about it often. It's about sex trafficking.

First Lady Hillary Clinton meeting with women in India in 1995

When Hillary was first lady she shined a light on the crime of sex trafficking for all the world to see. Back in 1997 we weren't talking about this crime like we do today, it was unknown to most of us.

It happened like this: During a women's conference, co-organized by Hillary, Ukrainian women approached her and asked for help. Young women were disappearing from their towns and villages, lured away by job opportunities and never seen again.

Hillary helped these women and her work led to the first international piece of legislation that made sex trafficking a crime. It enabled us to prosecute sex traffickers. 

This is just part of Hillary's early work. It is an example of her consistent drive to better the lives of all people.

You want change? Well, this is where the rubber meets the road folks. So I am perplexed by women and men who don't trust her. I think they don't trust women who have moved successfully in traditionally male areas of expertise.  

Sexism runs deep even in the hearts of the most fervent progressive.

I shudder to think that something else might be true. Could it be that women politicians who have been successful in bettering women's lives around the globe inspire distrust in many Americans? 

It's a chilling thought.

If true, then how do we ever help women in countries unlike our own where religious zealots wield violent power over women and girls?

Do we have the courage to sit back and objectively see our own biases that have possibly kept our Oval Office entirely male.

We don't need father figures to guide our moral lives simply because they are male. We are adults and we choose how we want to solve the problems of our world, which includes fighting terrorism in countries where women are subjugated (try finding a terrorist country where women have equality).

Sexism is not a side issue to bigger problems. It is woven tightly into the laws and religious beliefs of countries where girls and women are seen as less than human.

If the abusive treatment of women in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq upsets you and you want it stopped, then Hillary is your candidate, not Donald. 

Hillary tells us that this a tight race. How can that be?

What if all the fence sitters and third party voters decided to stand with the women around the world who have survived gang rapes and the young women and girls here in the United States who have survived sexual assault on a college campus. If they took a solid step in support of these women and emphatically voted for Hillary without hesitation, we would watch her pull away in the polls and walk into the Oval Office with a sizable lead. 

Or we can keep it close and fear a future where Donald could utter his opinions about women from the White House. When asked in a 1992 interview with noted misogynist Howard Stern if he respected women Trump replied, "Uh, I can't say that either."

I don't know how you tell a pre-teen girl that her President doesn't respect women and expect that girl to love herself.

Maybe we don't have individual megaphones with which to tell the women and girls of the world that we want to help them. But, we do have our vote. 

You want to change the world?

Vote for Her.