The past few days have been pretty dark for me.
I woke up on Tuesday, November 8, 2016 with SO much excitement. So so much. I got up early (a very rare thing for this non-morning lady) so that I would have time to take my five year old daughter to the polls with me. I wanted her to be there as history was made. I honestly believed with everything in me that Hillary Clinton would finally, FINALLY be the one to shatter the glass ceiling and become the first woman to represent the United States of America. All day I was the one comforting anxious friends, telling them it would be ok, that there was no way America would elect Donald Trump. I was wrong.
I woke up on Wednesday, November 9, 2016 in tears. I cried literally all day. My extremely understanding and supportive boss excused me from client meetings because I could not go more than 15 minutes without breaking down.
Since then, I’ve been silent as I try to come to terms with everything I’m feeling and find the words to express even an iota of it. I’ve ignored texts and emails from family and friends who were Trump supporters, because to paraphrase my hero, Bernie, I just have nothing polite to say right now. I don’t trust myself to go there yet.
One of these days I’m hoping the anxiety will ease enough to let me get back to posting about pretty things. Today though, I’m going to attempt to sum up the pain. I realize this may be a fruitless activity, because said Trumpers will likely not get very far into this post without rolling their eyes and dismissing me as melodramatic, a sore loser, a femanazi, or worse. I know that. But I’m going to write it anyway, because I have to. For the majority of my life, I’ve been the diplomat, the peacemaker. I’ve shied away from openly expressing my opinions because I don’t want to be confrontational or offend anyone. But today I can’t. I have to say something. This is not ok, and I can’t simply shrink into the shadows and cry in fear. So this is it. If you want to know how your liberal feminist friends and family are feeling right now, if you care at all, this is it.
I am shocked, I am ashamed, and I am disappointed in my country and in so many people I once respected.
I feel like I’ve been beaten while a crowd gathered and cheered. And those who weren’t cheering it on, were silently complicit. Which is frankly just as bad. My friends and family were in both crowds. I feel like my country isn’t the loving, welcoming, vibrant leader and protector that I thought we were. Instead we’re the bully – cold, cruel, angry, selfish, and scared of change. People I didn’t even know were Trump supporters are coming out of the woodwork now that it has become acceptable to support his bigoted rhetoric, and I’m so hurt and confused and ashamed. I am shocked and disappointed that people who I love could be so ready to overlook his cruelty in favor of his obviously false promises (seriously, you believe Mexico will agree to pay for the wall??) and the illusion of security (I know more than the generals!). I’m ashamed of the us vs. them mentality that has become prevalent, and of the idea that some are entitled to different and better treatment and privileges because they are white, or Christian, or male, or were born in America.
I am sad and terrified. Absolutely terrified.
The fear. The fear is one of the main reasons all of us are so upset right now. My anxiety has never been higher, and I’m honestly terrified of the future. I’m scared for my daughters. I’m scared for my gay friends, and for people of color, and for the future of this country. I’m scared because this is already happening, and so is this. I’m scared by how much the world right now looks like a combination of Idiocracy and 1930s Germany. I’m scared of a President who holds grudges, but who can’t hold his temper. I’m scared that guns will be allowed in my five year old daughter’s public school. I’m scared that racism and sexism is more widely spread than I had wanted to believe. I’m scared because I can’t process the notion that America just elected an older and richer Brock Turner to represent us, sending a message to all women and little girls that our safety doesn’t matter. I’m scared because we’ve deemed it acceptable to be vulgar and cruel and still be popular and successful. I’m scared because the KKK, Russia, and Islamic terrorists are all celebrating… They know.
I AM ANGRY.
If I’m honest, this is the strongest right now. I am SO ANGRY. I am angry because my Trump supporting friends and family are telling me to get over it. To stop complaining. To stop being a sore loser. That this is just democracy, and just another swing of the pendulum. That I should have seen this coming. I’m angry that I feel stupid for believing in the goodness of people. I am FURIOUS that people have insinuated that I would only vote for Hillary because she is a woman, and I am FURIOUS because I honestly believe that she lost because she is a woman.
I was a huge Bernie Sanders supporter in the primaries, because I am a feminist in the true sense of the word. I believe that people should be judged based on their merits, not on their gender, color, or sexuality, and I truly thought (and for the record, still do think) that he was the better candidate. That being said, once it was clear that Hillary was the Democratic nominee, I put on my big girl pants and suited up wholeheartedly.
Why? NOT BECAUSE SHE IS A WOMAN. Not even close. It is supremely insulting to most feminists that you would even assume that. It is the opposite of the equality that feminism stands for. Instead, it’s because I’m a grown up, and it was painfully obvious that she was the superior candidate in the final race for President. Electing someone who is so openly racist, misogynistic, narcissistic, and frankly ridiculously unqualified, was not an option. I’m telling you this to illustrate the difference between just being ‘upset’ that my candidate lost, and being terrified for the future of my family and country. It’s not about winning and losing. I can handle losing, and once I got past my disappointment at having lost the option of seeing Bernie in the White House, I got excited about the possibility that we might actually have a woman there for the first time in 240 years. That for the first time in my lifetime, and possibly in history, it wouldn’t be a given that being female is inherently inferior. That the term “like a girl” might not be an insult any longer.
TWO HUNDRED AND FORTY YEARS. Just take a minute to let that sink in before you patronizingly tell me how ‘someday’ we will get there, and that we just have to find the ‘right’ woman. Because ‘someday’ is a lie that women have been forced to swallow for centuries, and the ‘right’ woman doesn’t exist. And this is why I’m the most angry. I honestly believe that even the most supportive and understanding men, like my husband, can’t fully grasp what it means to live in a country where women have been told for two hundred and forty years that they are less than men. That they have to be content with a man, ANY man, representing them and making decisions for them.
I am angry because this week, America told me, my sister, my friends and my daughters that we just have to find the ‘right’ woman, but while we’re waiting for perfection in female form, ANY man will do. We don’t even have to consider the idea of waiting for the ‘right’ man, because ANY man is automatically a superior choice. Hillary has been a lawyer, a first lady, a senator, and our secretary of state. She is more qualified for the Presidency than almost anyone who has ever run. But America effectively told her to get back in the kitchen and cook dinner– an angry, loud, vulgar, inexperienced, violent, hateful, orange man is still better than a woman. A man who brags about getting away with sexual assault, who thinks walking in on naked women and teenagers while they’re getting dressed is a perk he is entitled to, who equates women’s value with their appearance and ranking on his 1-10 scale, who is on record saying that you have to treat women “like shit”— that is who we chose because Hillary just wasn’t quite ‘right’ for the job. Seriously… what the actual f**k??? This week, America told us that the WORST man for the job is still better than a supremely qualified, yet imperfect (aka human) woman.
While we’re here, let’s talk about perfection. I’ve been struggling for months to understand why Hillary is so disliked, and I keep coming back to the same disgusting conclusion. It’s because she is a woman. Period. Pun possibly intended.
I realize this is where I will lose many of you, but hear me out. I’m going to list off the reasons I’ve heard as to why people don’t like Hillary, and my thoughts on each. If you can come up with anything not on my list, and explain to me why Donald Trump is better because of your reason, I’d honestly be happy to listen. Perhaps it would provide me with some much needed hope in the human race at this point.
- Because her husband is a womanizer. This is probably the justification I have heard most often from Trump supporters, and I can’t quite wrap my brain around it. What would your ideal scenario be in this situation? Should she have left him? Broken up the family? Committed the ‘sin’ of divorce? Or would those have made her as unlikable as trusting him and keeping the family together, despite her own public humiliation? I’ve heard countless people say she attacked Bill’s accusers, and that’s why she’s at fault. As far as I have been able to tell, this seems to be alluding to either that time she shook one woman’s hand and said “Thank you for all you’ve done for us,” or that other time when she went on TV and said that she didn’t believe the accusations and that the truth would come out. How dare she? She clearly ruined their lives. To be perfectly clear here, I’m not saying that these women’s claims against Bill Clinton are any less valid than the claims against Donald Trump. What I AM saying is that Hillary is not at fault. You’re not voting for a woman because it offends your sensibilities that her husband cheated on her, but you’re on board with supporting a man who is a proud adulterer, has double digit accusations of assault against him, and is on tape bragging about how easy it is for him to get away with sexual assault. Please explain this to me, because it looks like sexism.
- Because emails. Probably the second most used excuse to justify voting for Trump, and also complete BS. Was it a bad idea to use a personal server? Yes. Is she a criminal? No. And that’s not just my opinion. That’s the finding of multiple investigations that cost us all millions of dollars. I’m uncertain why America cannot accept that. We keep looking and looking for anything to back up her criminality, while completely dismissing the actual evidence to the contrary. The mentality seems to be that it’s ok to call her a crook without any evidence that it’s true, because if we keep digging, we’ll find something someday. Why? The evidence just isn’t there, but we can’t let it go. Why are we searching through every email ever written by this woman desperately trying to find something to support our unfounded mistrust of her, while not caring at all about the blatant crookedness of the man opposite her? Furthermore, why does literally no one care that her predecessor, Colin Powell, also used a private email server? Please explain this to me, because it looks like sexism.
- Because Benghazi. Enough already. Every official body that’s looked into it, on the left and right, has concluded that Secretary Clinton did nothing wrong. Tragic as it was, Benghazi cannot be blamed on Hillary Clinton. We’re at war, and unless you close every foreign embassy, the people stationed there knowingly are at some risk. When 241 American servicemen were killed in the Beirut bombing of 1983, we didn’t blame President Reagan or George Shultz. When nearly 3,000 people were killed during the Sept. 11 attacks, or when various foreign embassies were attacked during their leadership resulting in at least 60 deaths, we didn’t call President George W. Bush or Colin Powell murderers. What was different about Benghazi? Nothing, except that this time it was used as a political weapon against Hillary Clinton. Please explain this to me, because it looks like sexism.
- Because she’s a liar. This, again, is one I truly struggle to understand. It has been proven time and time and time again that Hillary Clinton, while she does occasionally bend the truth, is one of the MOST HONEST politicians we’ve ever had. Trump on the other hand, lies approximately once every three minutes and fifteen seconds. I’m at a loss to explain how Trump supporters continue to use this argument against her, when it is so clearly untrue. If you say something enough times, people will eventually begin to accept it as factual, no matter how much evidence there is to the contrary. A woman who is proven to be truthful is viewed less trustworthy than a man who’s lying is unquestionably pathological. Please explain this to me, because it looks like sexism.
- Because she supports abortion. Although I disagree with this argument, this particular belief is one that I actually can understand, because it’s true that she does support the right for women to decide the fate of their pregnancies. I was raised Catholic, and am very familiar with the belief that abortion is murder. And yes, I can 100% understand that if you think someone is advocating for murdering children, it would seem unthinkable to condone that by voting to put them in a position of power. I get that.Here’s what I don’t get. Under our current Democratic president, abortion rates are the lowest they’ve been since the 1970s, and it has been proven that abortion rates drop more significantly under Democratic leadership than Republican leadership. Why? Because the two biggest factors that influence a woman’s decision to have an abortion are poverty and unintended pregnancy, and the fact is that Democratic policy is better at reducing these two factors. In this last Congressional session alone Republicans fought to cut medical care for poor mothers and children, food programs for kids, and contraception coverage and access for women.
Hillary Clinton is not ‘pro-abortion’, she’s ‘pro-choice’ and there’s a big difference. In fact, she’s famously quoted as saying that “abortion should be safe, legal, and rare” and advocates for programs that assist women and children and educate the public, helping to alleviate the two biggest factors contributing to higher abortion rates. Painting her as an evil murderer is inaccurate and manipulative.
So tell me, if you’re really pro-life, why are you voting against the woman who’s policies and programs are proven to reduce abortion, in favor of the man who says he will punish women who have abortions while he advocates for torture, killing entire families, splitting children from their parents through deportation, letting those who can’t afford healthcare suffer and die, dismissing the suffering of Veterans and POWs by calling them weak, literally killing people via the death penalty, and turning desperate refugees away to face their almost certain deaths, among other horrors? Why?? Can you see how, objectively, that kind of hypocrisy makes it apparent that your real motivation is more about punishing women for being promiscuous than about protecting human life? Does life cease to matter after birth? Please explain this to me, because it looks like sexism.
- Because she wants to take our guns away. Much like the “Hillary’s a liar” argument, this is just entirely false. Not only has she never once said that she wanted to take away guns, she’s actually said that her goal is only to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and terrorists. Yet people still spread this like it’s truth. (Interestingly, this same lie was spread about Obama… so if Obama took all the guns away, is Hillary going to take them from Obama? I’m confused.) Meanwhile, Donald Trump also says he wants to take guns away from criminals and terrorists, and has been gloating about how he could shoot someone and not lose any votes, telling us he wants to allow guns in schools on his first day in office, and encouraging his ‘second amendment supporters’ to kill his opponent. Please explain this to me, because it looks like sexism.
- Because she’s part of the system. What does that even mean? She gets paid to do her work? She makes a living the same way every politician has made a living for decades? You’ve seen her face in Washington before? I’m not naive enough to believe she’s a saint or that the system is not broken. Bernie supporter, remember? But burning down your house because you don’t want to do housework is insane. And HOW is Trump not part of the system? Trump IS the system! He’s a spoiled, entitled billionaire who has spent decades spending his daddy’s money and taking advantage of America while simultaneously shaming the less fortunate for accepting ‘handouts’. He IS that corporation who ships jobs oversees and hires undocumented workers to profit from paying them less. He IS the welfare queen who takes handouts from the government without giving anything back or paying any taxes. He is everything that’s wrong with America.
- Because I just don’t like her. You don’t like her. Fair enough. But have you REALLY thought about why? Like, really… why? Because she’s not emotional enough? Because she’s too ambitious? Because she’s an opportunist? Because she’s too calculated and strategic? Because you don’t like her voice? Because she wears pants? Most of those sound like qualities I would want, or at the very least have seen, in our leaders, which begs the question… is it really because she’s a woman with traits that are more commonly accepted in men? And more importantly, do you LIKE Donald Trump? Do you think he’s a good guy? Do you agree with his racist, misogynistic, fear-mongering rhetoric? Most people I know claim they don’t like him, but voted for him anyway. Please explain this to me, because it looks like sexism.
Am I saying that everyone who voted for Trump is a sexist? Of course not. Not consciously anyway. I don’t think the majority of people went into the voting booth thinking “let’s keep a woman out of power”, although unarguably some (eg. Rudolph Giuliani) likely did. But I think it’s important to acknowledge how ingrained sexism is in our society, and how big a factor it played here, whether we want to believe it or not. You can tell me that it’s just because people don’t like Hillary, but I maintain that the real reason people don’t like Hillary is simply because she’s a woman who has the audacity to ask for power in a patriarchal society. The fact that she’s been doing it successfully for 30 years has just further cemented the dislike, to the point where there is such a strong desire to see her punished, for something, anything, that we’re willing to spend years and millions of dollars hunting for evidence that isn’t there. So please don’t patronize me and other feminist liberals by telling us the right woman will come along someday. Please. We’re so tired of waiting. We’re so tired.
Which brings me to my final feel.
I feel tired and powerless.
I feel tired of holding out hope just to be kicked down again. I feel powerless, because facts don’t seem to matter anymore. Because people share and share and share on social media without knowing or caring if what we’re putting out there is completely made up or not. And once we find out that it is, the attitude has become “Oh well, it sounds like something she would do, so it’s still relevant to my decision.”
I feel powerless, because while I can’t believe, won’t believe, that every person who voted for Trump is a racist, misogynist, xenophobe, I KNOW that ALL those who voted for him SAW his racist, misogynist, xenophobic behavior and still decided, for whatever reason they can justify to themselves, that he was an acceptable leader. That something else was more important. And with or without explicit INTENT to do so, they have undeniably had a racist, misogynist, xenophobic IMPACT on our society and on their neighbors.
But mostly, I’m feeling sad and scared and angry and impotent because most people who don’t already agree with me won’t even have read this far.
This isn’t a normal election. It’s not just about policies or red vs. blue. This is about women, and minorities, and LGBTQ people feeling like second class citizens— about a very real terror surrounding our safety and our future. We’ve had US elections that upset people in the past, but I think maybe until now, we’ve never had an election and more importantly, a leader, that truly terrified so many.
Please, someone, tell me how this is all ok? How is this going to be ok?