As Women’s History Month draws to an end, first lady Melania Trump proclaimed at a Wednesday award ceremony that “wherever women are diminished, the entire world is diminished with them.” Soon after, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said at a briefing that the “president made women’s empowerment a priority throughout the campaign.” And later in the afternoon, President Trump attended a women’s empowerment panel and jokingly asked whether anyone had heard of Susan B. Anthony.
It was a discordant series of remarks given Trump’s history of controversial comments about and allegations of mistreatment of women over the years. This is a president who bragged during a conversation with an “Access Hollywood” host that he could grab women without their permission, who allegedly burst into the dressing rooms of beauty pageant contestants and who was accused by 11 women before the election of inappropriately touching or kissing them.
Trump — who lagged Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton badly among female voters in November — has leaned heavily on men for his top Cabinet and administration posts. As he signed legislation rolling back environmental protections this week, Trump was surrounded by at least 16 men, including Cabinet members, coal executives and coal miners.
That history has cast a shadow of sorts over the administration’s commemorations of women’s accomplishments over the past month, particularly events involving the president or the White House. The juxtaposition has also inspired widespread jeering on the left, where many view Trump’s past and his policy agenda as out of step with women’s interests.
During the “Day Without a Woman” strike on March 8, comedian and late-night host Samantha Bee — a vocal Trump critic — tweeted a photo of Trump sitting in the Oval Office surrounded by 12 men with the message: “The…