Women’s rights influence voters


Attendees at a “Get Out The Vote” rally for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton raise campaign signs as President Barack Obama takes the podium at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, Ohio, on Friday, Oct. 14, 2016. 

Alex Delaney-Gesing

As former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton holds the Democratic presidential nomination, women’s rights have been pushed to the forefront of conversation in what has become a controversial election year.

“Women have been a target of choice; they’ve been women at the mercy of relentless accusers, (from) tweeters, chanters, the T-shirt and button crowd,” said Suzanne Holt, director of Kent State’s Women Studies. “Now, of course, people have the right to speak their minds, and it was inevitable that they would … this is what happens every single time women challenge the status quo.”

But it’s not just that Clinton is a woman — a first-time occurrence in U.S. history. Her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, has become famous for his questionable treatment of and comments made toward women.

Trump sparked debate last month after an audio and video clip from 2005 was published online by The Washington Post. The three-minute clip showed the nominee and T.V. personality Billy Bush — then of  “Access Hollywood” — about to tape a segment for the soap opera “Days of our Lives.” Trump can be heard making vulgar and sexual references about various women. 

The nominee publicly apologized for the video, saying, “I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize.” In a statement, he called the conversation “locker-room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago.”

He has since faced backlash from GOP leaders — who largely denounced Trump and withdrew their support — as well as professional sports players, who denied that such language and discussion is commonly used in the locker room. Dozens of women have come forward and shared their alleged sexual encounters with Trump. Alleged instances go back to the ‘80s.

In response to the release of the video, Clinton tweeted her own disapproval: “This is horrific. We cannot allow this man to become president.” 

Clinton has spent her near three-decade political career advocating for, among other issues, women’s rights. At the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women, she delivered a speech that called to action, a need for gender equality in all regards.

“If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all,” she said.

More than 20 years later, Clinton’s stance on women’s rights has become a draw for many of her supporters.

“She understands the problems and concerns (facing women in society),” said Jim Watson, a Kent resident. “She’s … a mom, she’s a grandma. She’s living it. Everybody’s people; sex shouldn’t matter.” 

As of Nov. 5, an Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) and TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence (TIPP) poll puts the Democratic nominee ahead of Trump in women’s support by 8 percentage points, 48-40, with a 3.5 percentage-point margin of error. Clinton has maintained a solid lead in the category over the past few weeks. An Oct. 29 IBD/TIPP poll put her approval rating among women at 50 percent, versus Trump’s 34 percent. 

“She can bring more awareness to what women in this country need,” said Brimfield resident Evonne Gould. “And not just for women but all people — children, men.”

Gould has worked as a volunteer for the Clinton campaign in the last few weeks. She took advantage of Ohio’s early voting — something she thinks is critical this season, considering the options voters have to choose from.

“I’m just hoping that the hatred that’s been brought up this election can be turned around if (Clinton) makes it to office,” Gould said.

Trump sparked an outcry from men and women across the nation when he called Clinton “just a nasty woman” during the third presidential debate in October.

In response, women took to social media to voice their disdain for the nominee’s comments. The hashtag #imanastywoman spread amongst women, many whom shared their own experiences in the workforce or being treated unequally.

“The contrast between the two candidates is so, so stark in regards to women’s rights, it’s embarrassing,” said Anthony Erhardt, vice president of Kent State’s College Democrats. “If Trump were to win, it would set this country back 50 years, I think.”

In order to increase women’s voice in society, the nation needs progressive — not regressive — action, said Erhardt, a junior paralegal studies major.

Stow resident Andrea Rabinovitz said she voted for Clinton on the first day of Ohio’s early voting because the idea of a Trump presidency would be “an absolutely scary phenomenon.

“There’s a lot of sick hatred that’s been spewed from him,” she said. “The Clinton tagline of ‘Love Trumps Hate’ is true, but I have a hard time liking it because it brings his name into it.”

Rabinovitz said the idea of the nation being “stronger together” is far more positive — and much more applicable to what she thinks Clinton could do for the country as president.

“Because it’s not just a woman thing. It’s everybody inclusive in our country,” she said. 

Abby Sistek, a recent graduate of Kent State, said there seems to be a clear double standard between women versus men in politics.

“With the scrutiny from the media, it’s so hard for women to get respect,” she said. “It makes Clinton seem so much less than what she is. If she were a man, it wouldn’t be that way.”

Holt said Clinton’s run for office has come close to creating a “cultural referendum” that has forced society to consider — and potentially accept — a woman as commander-in-chief. 

“Hard as people try, you can’t extract the femaleness from … Clinton — nor need you go far to find blatant (as well as more subtle) examples of the difference in how she’s perceived, accepted, respected (or disrespected), understood—in comparison to male candidates,” Holt said.

Gould said the email scandal that’s plagued Clinton throughout her campaign shouldn’t be what causes voters to turn against her. Other male politicians have done worse than her and suffered less, she said.

“At least she owns up to it,” Gould said.

A Republican win would cause the progress women have made in the U.S. in the last century to be diminished, she said.

“To me, it’s like he hates this country; he wants to destroy what we have,” Gould said. “That’s my greatest fear. I just don’t want this country to be destroyed. It’s a beautiful thing we have here, and he’ll ruin that.”

Alex Delaney-Gesing is a senior reporter, contact her at [email protected].