The Bad: Donald Trump
In order to examine the treatment of women’s rights in today’s society, we can look first to America’s president, Donald Trump. Trump is quite active on Twitter. He has two accounts: A personal account run by him, and another account designated for the President of the United States (@POTUS), run by social media managers of his cabinet. Trump’s tweets are infamous for their audacity, outrageousness, and sometimes deceit. In using social media the way he does, sometimes untruthfully so, Donald Trump often alienates himself from his audience.
This is why credibility is an important thing when it comes to today’s forms of expressing political views. Chosen and established means of expressions are big reasons some celebrities, who aren’t politically certified in any way, garner more credence with America than political figures do. In the end, yes, it may come down to beliefs, but just like the women of the 60s and 70s, the way those beliefs are imparted is the most important aspect of rhetorical media.
A popular celebrity advocate that fiercely opposes Trump and many of his policies is talk show host, actress, activist, and author Oprah Winfrey. It’s interesting to compare both she and Donald Trump, as they both were television hosts before they were ever political figures. They’ve traveled significantly different political paths in their lifetime, and they both use their platforms for different messages.
The Good: Oprah Winfrey
In 2018, Oprah was nominated for the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes. She used her acceptance speech as a way to shed light on social media-based women’s rights movements like #MeToo. One of the most powerful quotes from the entire speech is as follows: “And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say “Me too” again.” (“Read Oprah Winfrey’s rousing Golden Globes speech”) In her speech, Oprah brought people together: Men and women, black people and white people. She didn’t attempt to separate them based on their views and beliefs, but rather suggested we fight together for women’s rights. Her credibility comes from the fact that she puts her audience’s feelings first; speaks the truth; has a desire to ensure the goodwill of all women; and finally, her reputation as an upstanding member of society with very little scratches on her permanent record.
If we examine their tweets regarding women’s rights and women in general, we find a stark opposition in how both people regard and treat women. In 2014, far before his presidency, Trump tweeted, “The woman who is the Secret Service Director looks like she is way over her head. Why can’t the president appoint the best and brightest?” (Trump) In this tweet, he implies that women cannot be either bright or the best at their job. Another tweet, sent out in 2012, Trump claims, “.@nbcnightlynews (Brian Williams, anyone?) says women warriors are ‘every bit as tough as the guys.’ Just think about that statement!” (Trump) Here, his degradation of women continues as he claims that women cannot be as tough as their male counterparts.
Conversely, as mentioned before, Oprah’s tweets are far more beneficial and tame in nature, especially when it comes to women. Considering Oprah herself is a woman, it is self-explanatory that she would not want to degrade them the way Trump does. Instead, she uses the platform of Twitter to encourage and uplift them. “No more apologies for women wanting MORE […]” she writes in one tweet (Winfrey). Another says, “With my warrior women at the #WrinkleInTime @O_Magazine Premiere. […]” (Winfrey) We can see very obviously the difference in the style of tweets. Winfrey intends to empower her female followers. Trump, on the other hand, attempts to diminish all women’s abilities with a few haphazard tweets.