Opinion: The terrifying issue for women in Election 2016

Trump praises Gingrich after Megyn Kelly interview
Trump praises Gingrich after Megyn Kelly interview

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Trump praises Gingrich after Megyn Kelly interview 02:53

Story highlights

  • Mel Robbins: Male entitlement, sexism and the rebirth of the double standard are all on the presidential ballot
  • She says: Trump's retrograde world does not allow for women as respected winners; they are meant to be subordinate to men

Mel Robbins is a CNN commentator, legal analyst, best-selling author and keynote speaker. She is a contributing editor for Success magazine. In 2014, she was named outstanding news talk-radio host by the Gracie Awards. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)There's one terrifying issue on the ballot next week that should have your attention: the treatment of women in a world where Donald Trump is in charge.

Strong words, but it's time we stop pretending they're not true. Right now, our country is getting a world-class lesson in male entitlement and sexism from a candidate, his mostly male political operatives and a cadre of supporters apparently enraged over the ascendancy of a woman.
Whether it's the "hubris" of Megyn Kelly, of Fox, who dares challenge Trump on camera, or the fact of his opponent, Hillary Clinton, continuing to dominate him in the polls, Trump can't stand it.
Consider: By his own account, he always wins. Right now, he's at risk of losing, and losing to a woman. In Trump's world that doesn't happen.
He is used to holding power over women with his wealth, his bullying, his employment and his threats of lawsuits. He appears to have little idea of how to operate when he has to respect, listen to and defer to a woman in business and politics. Even his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, has suggested he doesn't listen to her counsel either.
Indeed, the fact that he's already lost the female vote, that a "nasty woman" like Clinton might beat him, makes him sure the election must be rigged.
And it's not just him. The grotesque sexism among Trump surrogates and supporters — the words they use, the chants they shout, the T-shirts they wear and the signs they wave — has been perhaps the most illuminating, jaw-dropping aspect of this ugly race.
Make no mistake: male entitlement, sexism, and most alarmingly, the rebirth of the double standard — they're all on the ballot next week. Voters should take a hard look at this and decide what kind of country — what kind of world — they want their daughters, wives, sisters and female friends to live in. Think policies that defend women's rights, that promote equality and advancement for women--that take women and girls forward, not backward --would be on a Trump agenda, should he win the presidency?
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Consider the record: In Trump's world, a woman is not in front of a man; her place is behind, under or on his arm. There are many examples of this in the candidate's well-documented past, but we all saw a good demonstration recently. Remember when Clinton stepped in front of Trump on the town hall debate stage in October? He was so viscerally offended, he did not know what to do.
He got up from his chair, paced and loomed behind her, apparently trying to intimidate her. This backfired: It only fueled her confidence and angered him further when "Saturday Night Live" made a parody skit about him.
Donald Trump's crude talk on The Howard Stern Show
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In Trump's world, men get to play by different rules. Even the witch hunt over Hillary Clinton's emails exudes a double standard. George W. Bush "lost" 22 million emails during his presidency. We can't even go back and look at the communication regarding the decision to invade Iraq. We're up in arms over this, right? Nope: doesn't matter, he's a dude.
And want to talk double standard? Imagine if Hillary Clinton conducted herself in the same way as Trump suggests he has. What if she bragged to Howard Stern about sleeping with lots of men without getting STDs, saying, as Trump did: "It is my personal Vietnam ... I feel like a great and very brave soldier." What's more, he added: "This is better than Vietnam. It's more fun."
And would you think it was OK for a female presidential candidate to have a dozen men accusing her of sexual misconduct and to have had five kids by three men? Trump gets not only a pass for this very thing, he's the "family values" candidate. At least the conservative voters in Utah appear to have enough moral integrity to stop supporting him.
When Trump says no one loves women more than he does, what exactly is he referring to? Fantasizing about them on the "Access Hollywood" bus? Placing them only in professional roles that answer to him?
It's hard to know, because in Trump's world, women are property. You can "grab 'em by the pussy," you can walk through their beauty pageant dressing room while they're naked "because I own the pageant." It's OK for someone to call your daughter "a piece of ass," a Miss Universe winner can be shamed for her weight and (according to 12 accusers) women are there for the taking -- as long as you have a Tic Tac.
Highlights of the Donald Trump vs Megyn Kelly battle
Highlights of the Donald Trump vs Megyn Kelly battle

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    Highlights of the Donald Trump vs Megyn Kelly battle

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Highlights of the Donald Trump vs Megyn Kelly battle 03:10
In Trump's world, it's OK for Anderson Cooper to ask a question in an interview about what Trump said to Billy Bush on the infamous "Access Hollywood" tapes, but how dare Megyn Kelly ask a question about Trump calling "women you don't like 'fat pigs,' 'dogs,' 'slobs' and 'disgusting animals'," and questioning if he has the temperament to be president. It wasn't the question that incensed Trump, it was the fact that a woman was asking it.
In Trump's world, when a "crazy" "bimbo" like Megyn Kelly does her job, the right reaction is to attack with crude and sexist verbal assaults. Trump's response was so intense that Fox News, Kelly's employer, wrote this: "Donald Trump's vitriolic attacks against Megyn Kelly and his extreme, sick obsession with her is beneath the dignity of a presidential candidate who wants to occupy the highest office in the land." They're right.
The times have changed. Trump has not. Thirty years ago, when Hillary Clinton made a choice to pursue a career and a family, to do so was not the norm. In 2016, it's not only the reality that the majority of women work, but they do so in great numbers: 40% of women are their families' proud and primary breadwinner.
Women are able to choose their mates less on the basis of their suitability as provider, and more as an equal partner. We live in a different world than the one Trump does.
And therein lies the problem. By his own words and actions, he's not fit to serve half of the US population.
As we approach November 8, observe who Trump has deployed as vocal supporters: a pair of chauvinists who have held high office, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Both cheated on their (second) wives before dumping them. Giuliani quite publicly humiliated his, and Gingrich, when asked by his wife how he could preach family values, responded, according to his ex-wife: "It doesn't matter what I do. ... People need to hear what I have to say. There's no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn't matter what I live." What great guys.
These two are now touting their candidate's superior character. When you see them, pause to consider the source.
Gingrich to Megyn Kelly: You're fascinated with sex
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Indeed, it's instructive that Gingrich could not handle Kelly's pressing him recently in an interview about Trump's morality. Unprepared to be verbally assassinated by a smarter, prepared and professional woman, he resorted to a personal attack on her as "fascinated with sex." She fired back "Mr. Speaker, I'm not fascinated by sex but I am fascinated by the protection of women and understanding what we're getting in the Oval Office."
Trump and his obedient minions are wrong -- for women (and men) in America today, it does matter what you "live," as Gingrich would have it. And that's why this election is so important and so scary.
Like Kelly, I am "fascinated by the protection of women" and don't want to live in an era of Trumps, Giulianis, Gingriches, Aileses and Bannons.
You don't have to like Clinton. And you shouldn't vote for her just because she's a woman. You should vote for her because she's qualified, committed, rational and has the best experience for the job. She is the only grownup in this room. And right now, we need one if we hope to move forward.
You should vote for her because it's a vote for decency and respect. And you should vote for her because a vote against Hillary Clinton means we are back to Trump's world, a place where you don't want your wives, sisters and daughters to live.