The sexist idea that we need to “protect women and children” protects only one thing—the patriarchy, argues Amanda Arnold. This week, the Departments of Education and Justice announced they would roll back the Obama administration’s guidance on protections for trans students against discrimination, specifically related to bathroom policy.
Conservatives everywhere, in publications and Facebook wall posts, keep justifying discriminatory legislation and local actions against women and the LGBTQ community with one big lie: America needs to “protect women and children.”
The impulse to protect women and children has evolved over time but the dictum has been with us since the country’s founding because “there was no upending of customary law—a big part of which was the presiding roles of husbands—during the American Revolution, the belief became pervasive,” says Zornitsa Keremidchieva, a senior political science lecturer at Macalester College.
Conservative and evangelical discourse on orthodoxy and masculinity—two factors she sees in how supporters of the bills justify their stance—says Stephanie Martin, a professor of political communication at Southern Methodist University, only aggravate this prejudice.