Hear that backfire?
Women found their voice in 2017 and just like that, our world shifted. The workplace seems a lot safer for women as the chances of being taken seriously when reporting sexual harassment have increased dramatically. No one is naïve enough to think all harassment will cease, but public humiliation and possible career-ending consequences will serve as powerful deterrents to entitled men who view women as prey.
Meanwhile, the news is full of allegations of men using power or position to harass, intimidate or sexually assault women in the workplace or in political settings. The variety of accusations is mind-boggling from the classic “hitting on an employee” (U.S. Rep. Ruben Kihuen of Nevada) to serial harasser (former Clark County senator Mark Manendo) to the bizarre and disturbing actions of men like Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona, who pressured staffers to have his baby, or 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alex Kozinski who brought female subordinates into his chambers to view pornography to determine if the images aroused them.
Then there’s the alleged criminality of people like Harvey Weinstein, now accused of assaulting multiple women and subjecting countless others to disgusting acts of harassment. Many other men have teetered close to the line between harassment and assault, despite the standard response of “I’m sorry if I offended anyone by my behavior.”
All of these men have faced humiliating public censure, with many resigning in disgrace, unlike our President, Donald Trump, who has admitted his sexual aggression on tape (despite claiming later that perhaps the voice on the video was not his). And even Trump may ultimately face consequences, although his immense ego won’t allow him to admit it’s possible for him to wrong others.
While Trump may escape accountability for his actions, the backlash may doom his legislative success in 2018. He already lost the Senate seat in Alabama when Roy Moore, credibly accused of targeting underage girls to meet his sexual desires, was narrowly defeated thanks to increased Democratic turnout, particularly among African-American women.
Last year’s Women’s March the day after Trump’s inauguration heralded the beginning of an explosion in female candidates for office. The Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers reports more women are running for office than ever before, motivated by their anger at President Trump and Republicans who care more about power than personal integrity.
According to a recent story in the New York Times, in the run-up to the 2016 election, 1,000 women contacted Emily’s List (a group dedicated to electing pro-choice women) about running for office or getting involved in campaigns. Since the 2016 election, more than 22,000 women have done the same. The carelessness of Republicans in proceeding with an anti-health care agenda, including a lack of concern about protecting access to contraceptives and other prevention services guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act, has empowered women to take control of their destinies at the ballot box.
According to Rutgers, the surge of women candidates is bipartisan, with 291 Democratics and 63 Republicans already declared for House seats, four times the number of women challenging House incumbents two years ago at this time. The number of female candidates for the Senate has almost doubled, with two Democrats declaring their intentions to run and 13 Republicans, about 10 times the number of women who ran in 2012 and 2014.
If Virginia and Alabama portend the future, women voters will continue to translate their anger into action, and many more women will be elected in 2018. In Nevada, we may elect the first female governor in our state’s history and our second female U.S. senator. What a legacy for President Trump.