Editors' pick: Originally published Nov. 10.
So it would be wise to begin considering what President Donald J. Trump's power, influence and attitudes will mean to the 53 million women in the United States who go to work each day.
Notwithstanding Ivanka Trump's ill-considered assurance that her father has "total respect for women," women in the workplace have plenty of reasons to anticipate that things will get worse for them after Trump takes office.
There is, for starters, the copycat effect of the misogynistic and bullying statements he's made.
Even before Election Day, Trump's supporters gleefully Tweeted and posted on blogs various combinations of "Hillary" and the C-word. That should have come as no surprise, I suppose, from fans of a guy who called Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly a bimbo and mused that she must have had "blood coming out of her wherever" because she had asked him at a presidential debate to account for the repugnant things he'd said about women.
We women really did know before all this that some men harbored a resentment that tended to rise in correlation to the measure of our success, whether we were kicking ass running the family farm or running a Fortune 500 company. What many of us hadn't caught on to was how pervasive and deep-seated it still was in the 21st century.
Now, Trump's shameless anti-women spouting has given voice to once-silently seething misogynists.
Lest you should kid yourself that the destructive attitudes are restricted to men, like Trump, of a certain age, consider what happened on Nov. 8 at a campus bar at Sydney University in Australia.
A small group of young Trump fans had to be hauled off by security officers during election-day festivities after they got rowdy in the campus saloon, shouting "Grab them by the pussy -- that's how we do it!"
Might that wind up being the way more men in the workplace will do it, too?
Joseph Sellers, a partner at the Washington, D.C., employment law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, worries that, figuratively speaking, we could indeed wind up facing that.
"People model their behavior after their leaders, and the president is the top elected leader in the country," said Sellers. "I think there will be people who now feel particularly comfortable" speaking to and about women the way Trump does, he said.
By his actions, Trump has made it "socially acceptable in a way that it hasn't been" to denigrate women, said Joan C. Williams, founding director of the Center for WorkLife Law at University of California Hastings College of Law.
"The fact there was a woman, and a woman like Hillary, running on the other side, just fueled men's anger," she said. "They think of her as an arrogant professional-class woman who was part of a national conspiracy to humiliate them."
Sellers added that Trump's recorded words while speaking with former Access Hollywood host Billy Bush -- "When you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything ... Grab them by the pussy" -- are a textbook example of how sexual harassers think.
"He said he could do various things with women because he is in such a position of power and authority," said Sellers. "I can tell you from many years of handling this kind of work that that's the quintessential mindset of a person who engages in sexual harassment in the workplace -- the sense of privilege they feel they have to treat people in certain ways."
Sellers is holding out hope that Trump might take the opportunity to make clear to the electorate that he does not condone even his own innocuously labeled "locker room banter." Our next president will have a mighty platform to communicate a constructive and supportive stance on women, if he chooses to use it, said Sellers.
Alas, "I'm not optimistic that he will change," Sellers said.
A lone bright spot is that the incoming president may follow his daughter's suggestion to provide paid maternity leave for working women.
Along with the looming possibility that men in the workplace will feel emboldened by Trump's misogyny, there is the additional negative that the law may change in ways that hurt women who work.
Sellers said that workplace law is in flux as companies face challenges to mandatory arbitration agreements that include provisions that forbid employees to participate in class-action lawsuits.
Class-action suits are critical to bringing reform to the workplace, Sellers explained, because when a group successfully brings a suit, plaintiffs can demand that companies change the underlying practices that led to discrimination. Without that, "you are dealing with these problems with band-aids," in Sellers' view.
Currently before the Supreme Court are several requests to review diverging appellate court decisions on the legality of prohibiting employees from bringing class action claims. Those requests have been queuing up as the court waits to get a ninth member. Given that Trump is likely to appoint at least one new business-sympathetic justice, Sellers expects "it could have a profound impact on the rights and responsibilities of people in the workplace."
So don't be surprised to see things get harder for women at work. Don't be shocked either, given the president-elect's stated desire to take away media freedoms, to see it get harder for reporters to write about those workplace problems.
Giving up, though, is not an option. If you're dealing with an unfair workplace situation, consider the Homeland Security approach: If you see something, say something. Try your company's never-totally-confidential hotline. If that doesn't work, you'd be surprised to see how much change can result after you send a copy of your Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint to an interested news reporter.
Staying quiet will only abet an upcoming administration that shows little sign of caring about the civil rights laws that even before Trump didn't protect us as they should.