Last week, Donald Trump's campaign made another pitch to women voters via his chief surrogate and daughter, Ivanka Trump. In an ad released Friday, Ivanka lists all the policies her father will institute as president: childcare tax credits, paid maternity leave, and dependent care savings accounts.
But in its attempt to court female voters, Ivanka ostensibly manages to distance plenty of American women with her first line in the video: "The most important job any woman can have is being a mother."
At once patronizing and outdated, the idea behind that proclamation is that a woman's — all women's — chief purpose in life is to bear and raise children. Not only does it alienate a growing segment of single, childless women in America, it also subscribes to archaic gender roles about a woman's worth being attached, if not to her youth, then to her childbearing abilities — in contrast to a man's value being assessed by his professional and non-domestic accomplishments.
In September, when the Trump campaign released its child care policy, supporters hailed it as groundbreaking. But commendable as it is that Trump put forward a maternity leave policy — no other Republican presidential candidate has done so in the past — it falls far short of being comprehensive. The policy focuses exclusively on mothers, once again catering to the view that raising children is solely a woman's job, not shared by men.
And not only does Trump's child care policy fail to take paternal leave into account, which experts have said contributes to gender equality, the policy is not extended to gay male couples with newborns. So Trump's efforts at appealing to female voters, particularly within the context of the candidate's own history and the GOP's longstanding "war on women," seems contrived at best.
As the number of single women in America grows ever larger, so too does their power to shape this election. (Journalist Rebecca Traister's book on single American women, All The Single Ladies, noted that single women voted for President Obama by a 67 to 31 percent margin in 2012.) And as Hillary Clinton, too, struggles to win over young, progressive women, perhaps it is finally time that politicians acknowledge women as a potent political force — and respect them as such.
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