Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto

Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto


Victoria is Assistant Dean at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and a contributor to MSNBC and Telemundo. Her areas of expertise in the domestic policy landscape include immigration, Latinos, women and childcare, and economic equity. more→


Victoria brings an interdisciplinary lens to understanding policy development and its intersection with institutional and political contexts. Underlying her academic work is the applicability of rigorous research to on-the-ground policy realities.

Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto
Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto

Recent Media

This piece originally appeared on NBCNews.com.

The 2016 Republican War on Women has taken an interesting turn–straight into the gutter. It’s not only wrong, but it’s bad politics.

If there’s one thing women do a lot of—quite a bit more than men, it’s vote.

But in the latest news, it looks like Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is encouraging Americans to watch pornography. In an attempt to discredit former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, he sent tweets at 3 a.m. inviting the public to check out her “sex tape.”

As NBC News reports, “the purported sex tape” appears to be a reference to reports about suggestive footage from Machado’s time on a Spanish reality television show modeled on ‘Big Brother.'”

Alicia Machado shot into the political limelight at the first presidential debate when Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton noted that Trump (who had purchased the Ms. Universe contest) had referred to the Venezuelan-born beauty queen as “Miss Piggy” “Miss Eating Machine” and “Miss Housekeeping.”

Donald Trump has not denied that he has said it and has not apologized. Instead he has doubled down. He justified his fat-shaming of Machado as a business affair and most recently he seeks to justify his cruel and disrespectful behavior by discrediting Machado and making allegations about a “sex tape.”

So in the course of four days the Republican Presidential nominee has fat-shamed and Latino-shamed. Or put more technically, our next potential President does not respect overweight women, low-wage workers or Latinas and is shaming women about their appearance or sexuality. You do the math and he’s pretty much insulting every woman in the United States.

The Republican Party has a decades-old lady problem. Nothing new here. But the very fact that the GOP’s presidential candidate can’t stop viciously insulting women is not just well, insulting, it’s a terrible political strategy.

In 2012 ten million more women voted than men. For the last 50 years the number of female voters from has exceeded that of men.

Women also disproportionately vote for Democratic candidates. The Gender Gap has existed for well over three decades. In the most recent presidential contest the gap was ten percent and this election it would not be surprising to see that gap close to double.

The origin of the gender gap has to do with the Democratic Party’s more women and family-friendly policies of fighting for paid family leave, reproductive rights, better health care coverage, gender equality, among other issues.

Trump is aware of this gap and has attempted to close it by positioning himself as a different kind of Republican – one that is more attuned to the policy concerns of women.

At the Republican National Convention, his daughter Ivanka Trump introduced him. In her speech she highlighted his fair treatment of women at the Trump Corporation. His daughter forcefully made the case that her dad was a different kind of Republican, a man who cared about women and their issues.

Demonstrating this softer side of the GOP, Trump recently put forward bold policypropositions. He proposed six weeks of paid leave to new mothers, incentives for the provision of childcare at the workplace, and greater tax savings for childcare. These are monumental issues for women, even though no details about how it would work or be funded were provided. A policy like this could conceivably help him shore up female voters, narrow the gender gap, and make the path to the White House that much easier.

But how can women — and Latinas in particular — trust in the policy propositions of a man who doesn’t respect them? A man who fat-shames, slut-shames and Latina-shames.

See, words matter, as does trust.

Why would a Latina housekeeper who makes 64 cents on the dollar (the Latina wage gap being the most extreme) trust a man who has demonstrated a lack of respect for her gender, culture, sexuality and occupation?

Being crowned Ms. Universe is an honor reserved for a handful of women. But during the debate, every woman, every Latina became former Ms. Universe Alicia Machado. Alicia is every woman who has struggled with weight, or struggled with earning a fair wage, or struggled with the sexist taunts of machistas.

The rhetoric espoused by Donald Trump has extended the GOP’s war on women. He attempted to move the Republican Party one step forward by proposing family friendly policies. But his crude objectification of women has moved the GOP two dozen steps back.