"I care about this country being led by the most competent person."
Hannah LevintovaMay 20, 2016 6:00 AM
At a Trump campaign rally last week in Spokane, Washington, Donald Trump slammedHillary Clinton for "playing the women's card" to gain campaign support. When citing Clinton's criticisms of him, Trump mimicked the candidate, straightening his shoulders and flattening his voice to convey a cold, prim demeanor. He concluded the performance with the pronouncement: "All of the men, we're petrified to speak to women anymore…You know what? The women get it better than we do, folks. They get it better than we do."
The audience erupted into cheers and applause.
Moments like this one—where Trump's unabashed political incorrectness and machismo are on display—resonate with many of his supporters. But his message in Spokane made headlines in part because the notion that men have it worse off than women echoes a central tenet of the Men's Rights Movement (MRM), a network of activists who believe that in many contexts, men are a disadvantaged class. New York magazine even offered its readers a quiz: "Who Said It, Trump or a Men's Rights Activist?"
It seems like a no-brainer that men's rights activists would admire Trump's rhetoric on gender and thus support his candidacy for president. But several leaders of the movement who spoke to Mother Jones are ambivalent about Trump, at best—one has even donated to Clinton—and say that many others in their community haven't been won over by Trump's bluster.But why do many members of a group that would appear to be his natural constituency not support Trump for president?
"It's nice to hear him say" things that align with the men's rights movement, says Dean Esmay, now a contributor to and formerly the managing editor of A Voice for Men, a blog and men's rights discussion hub, but those talking points aren't enough. "Somebody had the guts to say that men have it tougher than women, it gives you an emotional rush," he continues. "But when you listen, where's the meat behind it? What's he offering? I see nothing." Trump isn't offering much by way of policy substance, Esmay says, both on issues key to MRAs, such asincarceration or the treatment of fathers in family courts, or on others.
"Why do I think he would make a bad president?" asks Esmay. "Because he is a loose cannon. You don't know what he's going to do. We have a student loan debt bubble that's going to burst. We have a middle class that's imploding. And Donald Trump is going to fix it all by saying, 'Believe it, baby?' Give me a break."
Warren Farrell, widely considered the father of the men's right's movement and the author of one of its foundational texts, The Myth of Male Power, says he's a "very strong supporter" of Clinton. He has attended several campaign events for Clinton and has donated the allowed maximum of $2,700 to her primary campaign. Still, Farrell says he thinks Clinton is "the worst candidate in recent history, in my lifetime, on gender issues from the perspective of understanding and having compassion for men." But Farrell, who has a Ph.D. in political science, still supports Clinton in part because, he says, "even though I care about men's issues a lot, I care about this country being led by the most competent person."
"Trump is the quintessential example of the immature man and men at their worst."
"Its very hard for me," he continues, "because Trump does have a clue about what's happening with men's issues. But Trump is the quintessential example of the immature man and men at their worst."
Farrell falls into a more liberal faction of the men's rights community, says Gwyneth Williams, a professor of politics at Webster University who also studies men's movements. But some of Farrell's more conservative colleagues also have serious concerns about Trump.
"I think Trump was right on for saying that men are afraid of upsetting women," says Paul Elam, the CEO and founder of A Voice for Men. But Elam notes that he doesn't buy that Trump would be "some sort of savior for" the men's rights movement, and that there are other Trump positions he finds especially worrisome.
"Trump talks a lot about building a wall and the outlandish proposition that he's going to stop drugs from entering the country—which is impossible," says Elam. He's wary of a candidate who would further criminalize drugs, leading to greater incarceration of men. While Trump hasn't directly promised this, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, one of Trump's surrogates and a potential vice presidential pick, has said he supportsthe criminalization of marijuana use. That's why both Elam and Esmay say the possibility that in a Trump administration Christie might be elevated to a position of power might push them to vote for Clinton.
But many men's rights activists are definitely not Clinton fans: Both Elam and Esmay referred to her as a "lizard" while speaking with Mother Jones, and men's rights forums on Reddit and elsewhere are filled with anti-Clinton sentiments. But despite their Clinton scorn, many MRAs say it's obvious Trump is more swagger than substance. "Trump doesn't have the ability to successfully call out Hillary on her sexism. He is to [sic] crass and doesn't grasp the issues," writes one user on the men's rights subreddit. Another sums things up: "Trump VS Clinton. Whoever wins, America (and the world?) loses."
Here's what happens when women live in countries that criminalize the procedure.
Hannah LevintovaMay 13, 2016 6:00 AM
In a new study published Wednesday, researchers from the World Health Organization and the Guttmacher Institute examine abortion and contraceptive access throughout the world. The report, in the British medical journal The Lancet, highlights major disparities in trends for women in wealthier nations compared with those in poorer countries.
The researchers looked at country data on abortion prevalence, contraceptive use by method, and unmet need for contraception in order to analyze trends across every major region and subregion between 1990 and 2014. They came to several illuminating conclusions:
Abortion rates in the developed world decreased significantly, but not in poorer nations: Between 1990 and 2014, the rate of abortions in the developed world per 1,000 women of childbearing age fell from 46 to 27. In developing countries, the rate stayed virtually the same: It dropped from 39 women out of 1,000, to 37 women.
The percent of pregnancies that end in abortion increased in poorer nations and fell in wealthy countries: Between 1990 and 1994, in developed countries 38 percent of pregnancies were terminated; between 2010 and 2014, that rate fell to 28 percent. In developing countries, however, the proportion increased—from 21 percent between 1990 and 1994 to 24 percent from 2010 to 2014. In Latin America—where more than 97 percent of women of childbearing age live in countries where abortion is banned—about 1 in 3 pregnancies between 2010 and 2014 ended in abortion. This rate was higher than that of any other region.
Three-quarters of abortions across all regions were performed on married women: This challenges the notion that most abortions are sought by unwed women or irresponsible teenagers.
Strict abortion restrictions didn't necessarily lead to a significant decrease in the rate of abortion: For example, the study's authors note that across the 53 countries where abortion is completely illegal or only permitted to save a woman's life, the rate of abortions is 37 per 1,000 women. In the countries where abortion is legal, the rate is 34 abortions per 1,000 women. That's in part because women living in countries with more restrictive abortion laws are also more likely to have an unmet need for contraception. "This adds to the incidence of abortion in countries with restrictive laws," the Guttmacher Institute's Dr. Gilda Sedgh, the lead author of the study, said in a statement.
The researchers don't have complete data on what percent of abortions are done in unsafe conditions but know that "nearly 300 million dollars are spent each year on treating the complications from unsafe abortions," said Dr. Bela Ganatra from the World Health Organization in a statement.
"The obvious interpretation is that criminalising abortion does not prevent it but, rather, drives women to seek illegal services or methods," wrote Diana Greene Foster, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, in a commentary responding to The Lancet study.
But Greene Foster also points out in her commentary that some of these findings don't provide the full picture. "This simple story overlooks the many women who, in the absence of safe legal services, carry unwanted pregnancies to term," she writes. "As a consequence of increased rates of unintended pregnancy and unsafe abortion, such women face an increased risk of maternal mortality and bear children that they are not ready to care for and often cannot afford."
The former butler has made numerous violent remarks about the president on his Facebook page.
Hannah LevintovaMay 12, 2016 5:35 PM
Earlier today, Mother Jones published a story detailing some extreme and threatening statements about President Barack Obama written by Donald Trump's former butler Anthony Senecal on his personal Facebook page. The 84-year-old worked as Trump's butler for 17 years before becoming the in-house historian at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. In the last year, Senecal has written multiple public posts on Facebook calling for Obama to be killed, with remarks such as, "If that means dragging that ball less dick head from the white mosque and hanging his scrawny ass from the portico--count me in !!!!!"
Threatening the president is a federal crime, and the Secret Service told the Daily Beast in a statement Thursday afternoon that it plans to investigate the butler's statements. "The U.S. Secret Service is aware of this matter and will conduct the appropriate investigation," wrote spokesman Robert Hoback in an email to the Daily Beast.
Also on Thursday afternoon, the Trump campaign distanced itself from Senecal's statements. "Tony Senecal has not worked at Mar-a-Lago for years, but nevertheless we totally and completely disavow the horrible statements made by him regarding the President," campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks told CNN.
As the presumptive GOP nominee emerges, the Susan B. Anthony List recalibrates.
Hannah LevintovaMay 10, 2016 6:15 PM
During the Iowa caucuses in January, Marjorie Dannenfelser, the head of the anti-abortion advocacy group the Susan B. Anthony List, joined other pro-life women leaders in writing a letter to Iowa voters to warn against Trump, saying they were "disgusted" by his treatment of women.
"America will only be a great nation when we have leaders of strong character who will defend both unborn children and the dignity of women," they wrote, poking at Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again." They continued: "We cannot trust Donald Trump to do either. Therefore we urge our fellow citizens to support an alternative candidate."
When Trump flip-flopped on abortion in March, first stating that he believed women who got the procedure should be punished, but then backtracking, Dannenfelser told Breitbart News that Trump "has completely contradicted himself. If this is his position, he has just disqualified himself as the GOP nominee."
But Trump's rise to becoming the presumptive Republican nominee seems to have inspired Dannenfelser to flip her position on the real estate mogul. On Monday, she wrote an op-ed for the conservative news site Townhall.com titled "The Pro-Life Case for Trump." She cites several of his anti-abortion statements from the campaign trail: his promises to defund Planned Parenthood, to appoint anti-abortion justices to the Supreme Court, and to support Congress' proposed 20-week abortion ban, which failed in September 2015 but is being debated again this term.
She writes that it is important to oppose Hillary Clinton, whose promise to fund Planned Parenthood, according to Dannenfelser, is "the most dramatic pro-abortion position espoused by a leading political figure to date."(Abortion care makes up about 3 percent of health services provided annually by Planned Parenthood.) Dannenfelser concludes, "We believe Mr. Trump, who has already taken strong positions on the life issue throughout the primary campaign, will join us on offense."
"A few weeks ago, they were crying foul that Donald Trump didn’t adhere to anti-choice orthodoxy," Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement to the Huffington Post. "Now, Susan B. Anthony List is cozying up to him apparently mollified that his anti-choice policies pass their muster."
In the final hours of the state legislative session, Republican lawmakers pushed through two anti-abortion bills.
Hannah LevintovaMay 6, 2016 6:00 AM
A clinic in Montgomery, Alabama
Alabama lawmakers passed two bills in the waning hours of their legislative session on Wednesday that could close two of the state's five abortion clinics and make it harder for women to receive abortions in their second trimester.
One of the bills prohibits abortion clinics from operating within 2,000 feet of an elementary or middle school—the same restriction that applies to sex offenders. If Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signs the bill, it may force two of the state's five abortion clinics to close, including a clinic in Huntsville that is the only one providing abortion care in the northern half of Alabama. The clinic just moved to its current location, across the street from a school, in 2014, in order to comply with other abortion restrictions passed in Alabama in 2013.
The sponsor of the bill, Alabama state Sen. Paul Sanford, likened the restrictions to those imposed on sex offenders. "We can put a restriction on whether a liquor store opens up across the street and make sure pedophiles stay away from schools," he told the Times Daily in February. "I just think having an abortion clinic that close to elementary-age school children that actually have to walk on the sidewalk past it is not the best thing."
The second bill would ban a common second-trimester abortion procedure.
Throughout the day on Wednesday, Democrats tried to mount a filibuster in order to run out the clock on the legislative session before a vote could be brought on both bills. But Republicans gathered enough votes to move the legislation forward.
Democrats who opposed the bills voiced their concerns over the House's rushed proceedings. "You have no right to continue to cut out debate," Rep. Mary Moore said. "That's what the process is all about. That's what makes democracy different than dictatorships."
After Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard attempted to start a vote on one of the abortion bills, members of the House Black Caucus entered the chamber and began singing "We Shall Overcome." In response, Hubbard called security, saying members couldn't hear the floor vote.
"With two hours left in session, the Republican Caucus shut down debate and bent the rules to jam through this misguided legislation," said Nikema Williams, vice president of public policy at Planned Parenthood Southeast, in an emailed statement. "This legislation is bad for women and bad for Alabama. It goes to show how issues of racial justice and access to health care are interconnected and cannot be fought alone."