Trump's election may bode well for women

Bishop: In a delightful display of irony, Trump's election has boosted interest in women's rights.

President Donald Trump, as he'll be known for better or worse this afternoon, has made it clear he's not a fan of public opinion polls unless they tell him what he wants to hear. But he might want to pay attention to this one, given that hundreds of thousands of women (and some men) will be marching Saturday in Washington and beyond in response to his election and in support of equal rights and respect for all.

On Tuesday, in a rather coincidentally timed release, the non-partisan research firm Perryundem revealed the results of its national survey on gender equality in America. Among its many fascinating findings is this: "There is a direct, statistically significant correlation between reactions to Trump's comments and behavior toward women, and his favorability."

In other words, the people who believe him to be a cad — most of America — don't think highly of him, and vice versa.

Of the 61 percent of the public upset by his attitude regarding women (recall the Access Hollywood recording in which he says he can "grab 'em by the ..." because he's a star, followed by multiple stories from women claiming he assaulted them), 73 percent view Mr. Trump unfavorably. Among the 16 percent of people who don't care about such things, 69 percent like him.

In fact, the survey found that the No. 1 predictor of Mr. Trump's favorability depends on an individual's reaction to his approach toward women. Considering his thin skin and deep desire for approval, it would appear in his best interests, then, to shape up in that department and do as 83 percent of adults want him to as president: actively further women's rights and equality. Even more people — 91 percent of the population — want him (and you, too, Congress) to specifically avoid an agenda that opposes abortion, defunds Planned Parenthood and eliminates a birth control insurance benefit.

And they're unlikely to sit by quietly and watch the opposite unfold, according to the survey. More than two thirds of the population, whether they voted in the election or not, say they have changed their behavior based on Mr. Trump's win — through donations to organizations (Planned Parenthood says contributions are up 40 fold since the election), greater attention to politics (new subscriptions are up 10-fold at the New York Times and 29 percent across Tronc Inc. newspapers, which include The Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times), and direct activism.

The latter includes Saturday's Women's March on Washington and the more than 600 regional "sister marches" taking place around the globe, including in Baltimore (at noon in front of Johns Hopkins University at 33rd and North Charles streets) and Annapolis (at 11 a.m. on the City Dock). The marches, which are expected to draw more than 1.6 million demonstrators worldwide, are intended to send a message to Donald Trump on his first full day in office that "women's rights are human rights," according to a mission statement.

Perryundem researchers found the biggest motivator for such increased engagement post election is feeling upset by Mr. Trump's treatment of women. The second biggest action motivator is the belief that America needs more women in public office. Do you see a pattern here?

Currently, there are only 21 women in the U.S. Senate and 83 in the House. Women compose just 19 percent of Congress despite making up nearly 51 percent of the population. Further, women now hold no leadership positions in the Senate and only one (down from three last year) in the House. Part of the problem is that too few women run for office, so let's hope  interest in that kind of activism rises post-Mr. Trump's election as well.

Overall, the survey found that 80 percent of the adults in the country believe there is still work to be done to gain equality between the sexes, with 76 percent seeing sexism as a problem of some degree (29 percent as a "big" problem) and most women experiencing it in some form, whether it be through sexist language, feeling unsafe or less respected, or having endured inappropriate touching.

Men tend to underestimate sexism's scope, according to the survey, and Republicans are the least likely to acknowledge it — though the majority of them still do.

Republican men also say it's a better time to be a woman in America than a man. They're the only group to make that claim, and, in a delightful display of irony, they might actually be right.

The election of a man often described as a misogynist appears to have shocked much of the country out of its apathy, and the rallying cry is equal rights.

Whether that's something the president wants to hear may not matter. The roar is likely to be deafening.

Tricia Bishop is The Sun's deputy editorial page editor. Her column runs every other Friday. Her email is tricia.bishop@baltsun.com; Twitter: @triciabishop.

The state of gender equality in the union

•Three out of the top fives faces of feminism today are black. In order: Michelle Obama (47 percent), Oprah Winfrey (43 percent), Hillary Clinton (41 percent), Beyoncé (28 percent) and Gloria Steinem (22 percent). Interestingly, the average age of those five women is 60, suggesting either that older women are more appreciated than we thought or younger women aren't identifying as feminists.

•Society still sees women as weaker than men: Fully 69 percent of adults believe men should "protect" women — 70 percent of all men and 69 percent of all women. It's worse in the black community, where 85 percent of men believe this and 81 percent of women.

•Overall, 37 percent of the country believes it's a good time to be any kind of woman in America, with the numbers worse for subgroups. Only 27 percent say it's a good time to be a black woman, 15 percent to be an immigrant woman and 11 percent to be a Muslim woman in the United States.

•Thirty-one percent of adults believe women like to tease men then refuse their sexual advances (40 percent of Republicans).

•Sixty-one percent of adults overall were upset by Mr. Trump's Access Hollywood comments, while 65 percent of Republican men were not.

SOURCE: Perryundem

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