Election issue profile: Gender issues

| Staff Writer

Over the next 8 weeks, the Forum section will be profiling the most pressing economic, political and social issues of the 2016 presidential race. We will examine the views of the top three candidates: Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson and Donald Trump—to give students an inside view on who and what we will be voting for (or against) in the upcoming election.

Ah, gender issues. On this issue, you can probably already guess who’s going to come out on top (hint: it’s not the misogynist). “Gender issues” encompasses a wide range of topics—from reproductive rights to LGBTQIA* rights to equal pay to childcare. Unfortunately, we can only examine so many, so I picked the big three: reproductive rights, maternity leave/childcare and LGBTQIA* rights.

Hillary Clinton

Reproductive rights: When talking about gender issues, the go-to topic tends to be abortion and reproductive rights. Hillary has received endorsement from Planned Parenthood because of her dedication to not only protect a woman’s right to choose, but also her right to affordable and accessible contraception and abortion.

Child care/maternity leave: As the democratic candidate, Hillary should be leading the race in terms of maternity leave. Yet while she has proposed up to 12 weeks of paid maternity leave (which refers specifically to the time a woman is given off when she has a child), her platform falls flat after that. Her page on child care (which encompasses both the monetary and infrastructural support the federal government provides to families with children) is woefully shorter than Trump’s (Trump, does in fact, have all the words on this topic). Given that the United States is so far behind other developed countries in terms of childcare and maternity leave, voters should expect Hillary to finesse her plan, moving from abstract “let’s do better” statements to firm goals.

LGBTQIA* rights: Hillary is the well-known, fair-weather fan when it comes to same-sex marriage. She has flipped her position often—from supporting her husband’s signing of DOMA to then cheering when it was struck down to defending her support. Similar to her support for same-sex marriage, she has been wary concerning transgender rights. She often lumps LGBTQIA* together without specifically addressing the nuance to transgender politics. Her policy to support transgender rights is vague and leaves much to be desired. She promises to “support” and “honor” LGBTQIA* individuals, but lacks in actual policy plans. If she’s trying to win the votes of progressives, she’s going to need a much more concrete plan on how to advocate for transgender rights.

Donald Trump

Reproductive rights: Lo and behold! Trump has changed his position on abortion yet again. As recently as March, Trump was in a back-and-forth argument with Chris Matthews discussing what sort of punishment a woman deserves for obtaining an abortion illegally. Then, he was in support of abortion in the cases of rape, incest and the mother’s life. Now, he is vehemently against abortion, calling for a ban on abortions nationwide, appointing controversial anti-abortion advocates to some major positions and proposing policy that would make birth control much less accessible than it already is. Honestly, at this point, I genuinely do not know what his personal beliefs on abortion are, nor could I predict what his policy would look like if he enters office. If it is anything like his current plan, anyone who has sex without the sole purpose of having children should be worried.

Child care/maternity leave: On September 13, Donald Trump’s campaign released his comprehensive child care and maternity leave plan. It’s long, it’s confusing, it involves a lot of acronyms, but he proposes six weeks of federally mandated paid maternity leave. He calls for tax-deductions for childcare costs, maxed out at the average cost of childcare in that state. For lower-earners, an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) would be available (though there is no mention of whom the EITC would benefit beyond “low-income” or “low-earning” people). He also include a savings account (DCSA) for families to use for their children’s futures, yet in order to receive deductions or the savings account, one must “qualify”—what exactly “qualify” means is, at the moment—is unclear. Americans should be wary of who exactly this policy is benefiting.

LGBTQIA* rights: Even though the “bathroom law” of North Carolina has been an issue for months, in addition to recent controversy over transgender representation, it is more important than ever for the presidential candidates to take a firm stance. Trump’s stance has waffled—at first, he was in support of transgender individuals to use whatever bathroom they please, though it was clear this policy came more from a lack of care what transgender people do rather than genuine concern for an individual’s sense of security and self. Not long after, he made a statement at one of the primary debates that made his opinion even less clear. There has been radio silence ever since. I think that speaks louder than any cyclical, pedagogical harangue from a man who doesn’t even know what those words mean. In other areas of LGBTQIA* rights, Trump has been noncommittal. Any comments he has made on same-sex marriage have been in regards to the Supreme Court decision, and he has said that he believes the decision should have rested with the states. Beyond that, Trump’s official policies are up in the air.

Gary Johnson

Reproductive Rights: Uncle Gary joins the match with a fairly unglamorous platform. His ideology aligns with allowing women the right over their own bodies. While he supports an individual’s reproductive rights, he does not support federal health care, which makes it extremely difficult for low-income women to access contraception.

Maternity Leave/Child Care: Uncle Gary strikes out again as he is not in support of instating a federally supported paid family leave system, instead offering that businesses decide how to handle maternity leave privately. Even though droves of individuals recognize this is extremely problematic—even Trump supports it!—apparently Johnson couldn’t be bothered.

LGBTQIA* Rights: As the libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson really could not give two f—s which bathroom you use or who you marry.

Which candidate has the most experience in this field?

Hillary Clinton—She has repeatedly fought for paid leave, the Family Medical Leave Act and the Children’s Defense Fund, and has consistently supported women’s rights. Her track record on LGBTQIA* rights has been spotty, but is definitely more progressive than Trump’s. Uncle Gary could potentially pose a threat to her in terms of policy—they align on several issues—but her experience is unmatchable.

What was the best Late Night moment on this issue?

When John Oliver broke down the ridiculousness of abortion laws on Last Week Tonight.

Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening as Washington University returns to campus.