Trump won. America voted for him. People I know voted for him—people who know me, and knew my father; who claimed to love us, who are familiar with our Jewish ancestry: they still voted for someone who has declared intent to start a registry of people based on their faith; someone who has threatened mass deportation based on ethnicity. I am sure people you know voted for him—people who claim to love you, whether you are queer, brown, Trans*, black, a woman, poor, or just a decent human being who tried to explain to them the importance of voting against someone who stands for white supremacy, “braggadoccious,” and actually literally sexually assaulting women and girls.
People we don’t know voted for him too. Lots of them. Enough to put him in the White House.
I watched it happen at the world’s worst election night party (through no fault of my lovely hosts). Early in the night it had been full of excited, if nervous people, chatting happily of this and that, eager to see a win for the most qualified presidential candidate in recent history, whose victory was all but assured. We quickly went quiet as Rachel Maddow began to lose her shit on MSNBC. The results came in—or rather, didn’t—for long enough that we all sensed it in the wind. People split into other areas of the house, glued to phones or laptops or the TV. We were silent, shocked. In tears I called a friend, who told me to be patient, to wait, that it would be all right.
It was not all right. The next morning, I saw the same friend had messaged me at 1 AM MT, after I’d given up and gone to sleep, with just one word.
In the wake of it, I have not been well. I am grieving. Something has cracked deep inside of me; some part of me is leaking out. I think it is my civility; my willingness to swallow my sighs and my anger and instead speak calmly. Maybe it’s my lifelong goal of being the approachable, easy going feminist who takes the time to explain issues patiently and who endures sexism with a smile and a handshake because you win more flies with honey.
On Wednesday afternoon after the election, as I was working at the coffee shop, a young white man elected to explain to me all about HRC’s “flaws.” I stopped him at some point, which surprised this entitled bastard, in order to say, “Actually, I’m a big fan,” which shocked him.
“You can’t possibly mean that!” he said, in mock astonishment.
“No, I really do,” I replied.
At that point he decided to explain to me how “corrupt” HRC was, and that if I was a fan, I couldn’t possibly have read much about her, or be informed about what she really is. I stared at him, standing next to my friend and boss, who was also too angry, too tired from fighting tears all day, to tell him what we really thought about him and his white male opinions—about his certainty that his thoughts were more reasoned, more valid than my own. About his feeling that in the wake if this defeat, I should be listening to him, not he to me.
It sent me to a dark place, out of which I have not yet crawled. Why didn’t I tell him to shut the fuck up? My boss would have supported me. I know that under normal circumstances she would have sent his ass packing with his fucking iced coffee, no room for cream.
I don’t know. I don’t know how to feel; what to do. When I go outside now, I see white men and white women, who overwhelmingly voted to put Trump in the White House… and I wonder, what are they thinking? Are they enjoying having told American women that they’re garbage; that they actually can’t be anything they want, ha ha? Do they see Trump’s victory as a sign that their Islamophobia, their racism, their misogyny, their hatred, is “correct” and “moral” and “just” now? Are they feeling anything at all, or are they able to just roll their eyes and say to themselves, “it’s just politics, what’s the big deal?”
It’s no longer just politics. It never was, of course, but it’s more obvious than ever before.
To anyone who says “don’t be angry” or “this is a time to set aside our differences and work for unity,” reflect on this… feeling as if the people around you hate you because of who you are is depressing, and it is terrifying. This is not a time for unity. It’s a time to say “I will never ally myself with fascism, or with those who support it.”
I will also never join with those who are pointing fingers specifically at women and saying, “it’s your fault.” Yeah, the “bitch” there is silent, but it’s still loud and clear. It’s doubly hard to know who your friends are these days. The Right can obviously go fuck itself; they have spoken and spoken loudly on behalf of bigotry, misogyny, and violence, and fear. The sad thing is, the Left seems just as willing to paint women public servants as harlots or sell-outs, whether it’s the so-called Radical Left or just moderate fair-weather Democrats who just didn’t feel “inspired” enough to vote for HRC because they were too busy throwing a tantrum that their magic grandpa Bernie Sanders lost the primary. Yesterday I saw a prominent radical Leftist magazine sneering at HRC’s graceful concession speech (the radical left is just as disgustingly sexist as any other group, and will as far as I can tell never acknowledge/give two shits about the unique struggles of women when it comes to navigating the public eye), as well as willfully misrepresenting the brave and fiery Elizabeth Warren’s remarks on “compromising” with President Elect Trump (read what she really said here, without the sexist spin). I wish I were surprised, but it’s of course the divided left that lost the election for HRC as much as it’s the fascist alt-right, shrug-n-vote Republicans, and “fuck yeah” bigots who won it for Trump.
To whom can anyone turn? I just don’t know. There’s a movement, riffing on Brexit, where some of us are putting safety pins on our clothes as a way to signal being a safe person to talk to in these dark times. I admit I liked the idea, and dug one out of my sewing box. Just as quickly, of course, I see an article tearing down the idea and sneering at those who might be looking for a way to do something instant and meaningful and good. It’s just us “embarrassing ourselves,” apparently. Hatred and violence are tearing us apart, but so, apparently, are love and small actions that seem like an immediate way to stand up for what is right and kind while we plot and plan bigger things down the road.
I’m angrier at the Right than the Left right now, true. But the truth is, we all need to take responsibility. We all need to look at ourselves. We all need to figure out who we are, what we stand for—and what we stand against.
I don’t know. I don’t have answers. I wish I did, but all I have right now is grief and a desire to do my best for my piece of shit, abusive country—yes, even now, when they’ve told me and my friends that I’m trash undeserving of basic human rights and human decency. I don’t know. I don’t know. I wish I did.
But I do know I’ll be looking for answers, and looking for them quickly. I’ll try my best to do the right thing at a time when most of the country is reveling in supporting the rhetoric of violence, hatred, and evil.
We have turned down a dark path, and it will not “be okay,” as so many people are saying. We will have to make it okay. We will have to take action. I just don’t know what, yet.