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Note to Trump: The ‘woman’s card’ does not guarantee ease

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
If The Donald ever needs a caregiver, it’s a good bet that Ivanka will provide the care if Melania Trump cannot do so.

After Donald Trump said Hillary Clinton employed a magical “woman’s card” to wend her way through the presidential campaign thicket with greater ease than might be so if she were a man, I thought about writing something. But despite possessing one of those woman’s cards, it was not easy for me to get something done at that moment.

Mary Stanik

I’ll explain. First, let me hasten to add my voice to the multitudes saying, oh (expletive inserted, then deleted) Donald, those woman’s cards you describe with such furor do not guarantee ease. Not even when some holders might meet your standards of beautiful. For one thing, we know that Hillary Clinton’s physical appearance and marriage receive much more unfair scrutiny than that of any male politician. That includes you, Donald. To be fair to your party, the physical appearance and marriage of your supporter Sarah Palin have received much more unfair scrutiny than that of any male politician. And we all know how a whole lot of women make quite a bit less than men who do the same jobs, for the same amount of time, at the same time. We know all too well about the relatively small number of women (compared to the number of women in the population) in Congress, in CEO suites, in the skilled trades, and more. We also are aware of the many complicated reasons for the lack of women in any number of fields, including the sometimes inconvenient fact that women are more likely than men to need to leave the workforce to raise families.

Here’s another hugely inconvenient fact, one that explains my lack of ease in getting a commentary written any sooner. It is the fact that when children with special needs, elderly parents, or spouses need caregiving, it is usually a woman who takes on the role of primary or even sole caregiver. In my case, I’ve been my mother’s primary caregiver for nearly two years (actually, I’m more of a senior citizen’s dormitory resident adviser, but that’s another story). The National Alliance for Caregiving has estimated that about 29 percent of the U.S. adult population, or some 66 million people, are serving as caregivers for at least one family member.

According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, 53 to 68 percent of all caregivers are women (the range in percentages is due to caregiving differences and the amount of time spent providing care). Women caregivers spend an average of 21.9 hours per week on caregiving and male caregivers put in about 17.4 hours. Female caregivers are more likely to shoulder the tougher aspects of caregiving (such as bathing), while men are more likely to arrange outside care or help with finances. And 44 percent of caregivers live in or head households that are under twice the federal poverty level, as opposed to only one-third of non-caregivers living at such levels.

I’m fortunate in that I’m not poverty-stricken and I’m childless. I work for myself, which permits more flexibility than might be the case if I were working at a “regular” job, as is the situation with most caregivers (many of whom also have dependent children). All the same, the caregiving life is far from easy, “woman’s cards” notwithstanding. In order to more readily receive help from my two brothers, I had to leave my Minnesota home and move my mother and myself to Arizona, where both brothers have lived for years. It’s a place where I knew almost no one. After four months here, I know a few people but none who can yet be called friends or solid professional contacts. If I want more than a day or two off, my brothers have to get away from their jobs, which is not always easy to manage or schedule. Caregiving can be tough on friendships. I’ve had people bluntly tell me they would have invited me to join them on vacations or other fun events but that “we thought you probably cannot leave your mother.” Yes, they are now former friends.

I’m not trying to whine. Compared to a whole lot of caregivers, I have nothing to whine about at all. As my mother has sufficient financial resources and is in that zone between being able to live alone with lots of help and being in assisted living, I think she is better off living with me at present. Still, while reflecting on how often women are called to caregiving, I cannot resist pointing out that Trump’s daughter, the poised and intelligent Ivanka, is the Trump family member who is her father’s primary promoter.

If The Donald ever needs a caregiver (many will say that idea is subject to great interpretation), it’s a good bet that Ivanka will provide the care if Melania Trump cannot do so. 

I’d also say that if such happens, no matter the Trump billions, her life will not be easy.

Even though she’ll hold a woman’s card.

Mary Stanik, a writer and public-relations professional, lived in St. Paul until her recent move to ArizonaShe is the author of the novel “Life Erupted.” 

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 05/27/2016 - 09:15 am.

    Cards

    The person who is responsible for the card is the one who plays it. In playing the women’s card, what Donald Trump is suggesting is that issues that affect women are only of concern to women, in effect trying to wall them off in some sort of gender based, electoral ghetto.

    When Hillary and others talk about issues that impact women, they are of concern to all of us. When women are denied equal pay for equal work, when they are denied promotion because of their gender, when they are denied control over their own bodies, which Donald for the basest and most self interested political reasons, seeks to deny them.

    The poet John Donne talked about how no man is an island. Well, women aren’t islands either. And someone who diminishes one of us recklessly and maliciously, diminishes us all. So let’s pre-empt the profoundly unserious Donald Trumps effort to trivialize the discussion of issues by playing the human card instead.

  2. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 05/27/2016 - 03:54 pm.

    Sorry, boys, but “the human card” is men’s attempt to deny that being a woman in politics and business is different from, and more difficult than, being a man in politics.

    The person who “played the woman card” in this 2016 presidential season is Donald Trump, who is not saying that Hillary Clinton would address women’s issues, but that SHE IS A WOMAN. That’s his problem with her, plus the fact that she is a woman so hugely better qualified than he is to seek and have the President’s job. Trump wants everyone to absorb the dog whistle message he sends forth: We don’t want a female president!

    Hillary Clinton is now being accused of not being an attractive presidential candidate because . . .(wait for it!). . . she has too extensive a resume! She’s too qualified, you see. Her candidacy makes those of all the men involved look dinky, thin, insubstantial. She has been called a walking resume (David Brooks, I believe, in the NY Times). Men are seeking ways to make that resume not outshine all the men around her, and Donald Trump has gone furthest, by reducing Hillary Clinton to her body.

    Like the many professional women who have spoken up on the way Hillary Clinton is being portrayed, who know that the masculinist society we still live in simply will not permit a woman to win no matter which way she turns, this writer has pointed out yet another realm in which women are not yet at all equal in America. More and more of us need to speak up, as she has here.

  3. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 05/29/2016 - 09:29 am.

    Sorry, boys, but “the human card” is men’s attempt to deny that being a woman in politics and business is different from, and more difficult than, being a man in politics.

    It’s more an attempt to maintain broad appeal, for better or worse. While it may be more difficult for a woman to be in politics, I don’t really care. I participate in politics in order to get things done, not to help any given individual’s personal struggle for whatever.

    “Hillary Clinton is now being accused of not being an attractive presidential candidate because . . .(wait for it!). . . she has too extensive a resume! ”

    As tautological as it sounds, Hillary is being accused of not being an attractive presidential candidate because she isn’t an attractive presidential candidate. Now there are reasons for that some good, some bad, some substantial, some not, but that she has real problems as a candidate is pretty close to an objective fact, and responding to that fact with denial may not be the most effective strategy. What has been the Clinton strategy for decades in responding this issue is to blame others, to complain about the vast right wing conspiracy and so forth. While there is an element of truth to those blanket defenses, the problem is that the Clinton’s have been so focused on creating those defenses, rather than addressing the real internal problems those defenses are supposed to shield. For people like me, it isn’t that Hillary has weaknesses as a campaigner, all politicians do, rather the frustration is that she doesn’t get better at dealing. Her shield has become her crutch.

    “Like the many professional women who have spoken up on the way Hillary Clinton is being portrayed, who know that the masculinist society we still live in simply will not permit a woman to win no matter which way she turns, this writer has pointed out yet another realm in which women are not yet at all equal in America.”

    Men are pretty awful. As a category of human beings I really don’t like them myself. But as political beings, we need to come to grips with the fact that as a segment of the population, they aren’t going anywhere quickly, and while they are here, they do vote. That being the case, we need to think about the most effective ways to reach them and persuade them. Just possibly, calling them names and in general, explaining how rotten they are might not be the most effective strategy, although I am sure the point is reasonably debatable.

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