This morning I woke up with a sense of doom and dread. It’s still there, now. It is as if I can viscerally feel the horrible significance that the results from Election 2016 will have,
I am so many different emotions right now. I am sad. I am upset. I am angry. I am embarrassed. I am scared. I am nauseous. I am stunned. I am shocked. I am confused. I am disheartened.
All of these feelings are for so many different things.
Many of them are for women. As a woman myself, the empowerment and euphoria in voting in a presidential election for a woman yesterday was a moment I will never forget (yes, I even saved and preserved my sticker). Women have faced endless discrimination and invalidation for virtually all of time. That is not a personal belief but an unequivocal fact. When we think about inequality for women, one universal term we hear is the “glass ceiling.” I mean, the idea itself is pretty symbolic. A hard, difficult to penetrate plane above our heads, through which we can see the goal, but yet which still closes us in, our heads trodden on by the footfalls of men above us “privileged” simply because they were born into a world where some extra genitalia means the difference between, for instance, making a full dollar or only the equivalent of $0.80 for the same work.
Yet, like glass, this ceiling can be shattered. And it has been, many times. I mean, I voted yesterday, the result of a shattered ceiling in itself. This election, we were so incredibly close to shattering another glass ceiling, one of the largest our country still has today: a female presidency. I wanted it. I wanted it so badly. Which is why, when Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election, I was devastated. Devastated and saddened. Not just because it was this one obstacle that hadn’t been achieved (yet), but also, and mostly, because I believe this election showed me, much to my dismay, that our widespread perceptions of success and equality are in part just a veil over a deeply-rooted sexism still present in America. It is one that I had hoped was gone, or at least improved upon.
My optimistic 21st Century side told me that change had happened; I mean, it’s 2016, after all! And I’ll give credit to that change, because it has. But clearly, it wasn’t enough. This election has been the most demeaning to my sex as any ever has. Women have been openly disrespected. They have been called housewives, caretakers, and unintelligent. The female body has been taken advantage of, in more ways than one. Donald Trump has rated women on their breasts, butts, or how “good” they look on a scale of 1-10. He has publicly stated that he would sleep with his own daughter. He’s used the fact of owning a vagina and possessing the ability to carry and create life as a means of demeaning women, blaming them for PMS during their periods and “bleeding from wherever.” He has criticized women for being “too fat” for him, as if he were the one to set some sort of standard for the human body. He has brazenly claimed that his supposed fame validates his peeping at naked teenaged women backstage at the Miss Universe Pageants, and proudly stated that he enjoys “grabbing women by the pussy.” He has done all this and more.
Yet, it doesn’t sicken me as much to hear one sexist man say these things as it does to hear the support he managed to rally when he did. In his public sexism, it is as if Donald Trump awakened a beastly part of the population, who not only agreed with him, but joined in. Again, I think, “21st Century, 2016!” but again, I look at the screaming Trump “fans” and am crushed. In this I noticed: America has a dark side, and Donald Trump gave its members the OK to express it, loud and clear. Honestly, one could argue that all those pieces of broken glass just glued themselves back together in the matter of one campaign and one fateful Tuesday night. Herein lies my sadness, my fear. For women. For what this means for me. For what this means for my little sister. For what this means for equality in America. For what this means for upholding American values.
What I also know, however, is that if I have something fear, it is nothing compared to the fear for many individuals around this country. Yes, I am a woman. But I am also white, well-off, living in a nice house in a nice town, a US born American citizen, straight, and not disabled. In society’s terms, I inherently have “privilege.” Donald Trump probably wouldn’t have a problem grabbing me by the pussy or letting me cook and clean for him, but I know that I don’t face even a percent of the issues others do by Trump and the hatred he leeches. I despise this fact, because I very firmly believe that an immutable characteristic central to one’s identity should ever be reason to judge, discriminate against, or hurt another person. Blacks. Hispanics. Asians. Native Americans. Immigrants. Refugees. Senior citizens. Disabled persons. Muslims. Those with mental health issues. Low-income workers. The homeless. LGBTQs. Victims of Sexual Assault. The list just keeps going. All of these groups have been attacked viciously by Donald Trump and his supporters, and for no valid reason that I see other than that they are different.
Sound familiar? Attacking because of difference? Discriminating? There’s a pattern we’ve seen before. That’s racism. Homophobia. Islamophobia. Elitism. Misogyny. Hatred. Why? is the first question I ask. Mostly because when I see people, I see people, as in homosapiens, members of the human race. I don’t give a flying fuck if they’re blue and green and red with gold stripes or if they have a certain theological belief, or the sex organs of the person they love, or the way their brain is wired, or the income they earn, or the house they live in, or the country they were born in. Anyone who does places themselves on a pedestal much too high for their own good. We’re all human, guys, sorry to burst your judgmental and egotistical bubble. Why care who or what or how another person is?
This is something that I has been prevalent throughout world history. Yet, I thought we were past that. Granted, some issues are more recent than others. There is always more progress to make. But you would think that if history shows us anything, it is that hatred and discrimination only cause terror and pain and separation. Look at the Holocaust and you see a tale of religious discrimination. The American Civil War—brothers against brothers fighting over race. Pulse: a brutal shooting rooted in differences in sexual orientation. The Berlin Wall of the Cold War. The result? Primarily, violence, division, and death. Incredible death. Three words that have absolutely no relation to progress. What does have relation to progress is exactly the opposite. When blacks were given rights. When gay marriage was legalized. When the United States served as a place of refuge for those fleeing violence in the Middle East or Central America. We denounce hatred like that of Hitler during the Holocaust or of slave-owners pre-Civil War, yet hatred of the same kind is what Donald Trump preaches and brings out in others.
As with women, this election showed me that there is a large, large group of American people who have not learned from history. A large group of people who must have had a seed of hatred all along, but which was dormant until Donald Trump watered and fed it and allowed to grow until it became a thriving plant. I am upset that there was that seed at all, but even more upset that it came alive so quickly, and dug its roots in so deep. I think of the Islamophobia, of the banning of individuals entering the country from “violent places,” of the proposal to deport thousands and build a wall along the Southern border, of the insistence on preventing gay rights, and I am astonished at the similarities to the horrors of our history threatening to repeat themselves.
People aside, I am scared for the country, our environment, and the role we play in the well-being of our earth. While a proven fact, Donald Trump denies the existence of global warming. Maybe October snowstorms and record setting highs and lows the past few years, on top of melting glaciers and the destruction of polar habitats just seem like normal things that should be happening, to him. The great newsflash is that is isn’t normal. Even greater is that it’s not going away. So the solution? Let’s stop it. That seems to make sense to most of the world and its leaders, but not to Mr. Trump. He wants to leave legislative deals that could help stunt the growth of global warming, and blames China instead. Yes, he blames China.
It is not even his disregard of global warming that concerns me as much as what his thought processes tell me. Donald Trump doesn’t trust science, and is unwilling to fund it. This is a topic that flies under the radar, mostly because we don’t even realize how much of a role science and research plays in our daily lives and that of our future. Scientific innovation runs progression. It bleeds influence into all aspects of life: economy, Health, education, sustainability, you name it. You can go to the ER and see if your bone is broken, thanks to science. Then you can get it repaired. And you can go home with pain killers. If you’re depressed, you can get helpful medication and guidance from a counselor. You can fly from one place to another in an airplane. You get hot water from a system rooted in science. You can be cured from sickness thanks to science. You can read this blog, or navigate the web. You can brush your teeth with whitening toothpaste. You can eat the correct diet to avoid diabetes. You can safely have a baby. All of these, and more, are innovations that relied on science to become a reality. If the President does not deem this important, where will progress go? Will it even happen? And what will the long term effects be?
Ignorance wreaks havoc. Donald Trump wants to “remove the red tape” at the FDA and approve thousands of new drugs, claiming he wants to “find as many cures as possible.” What he sees as administrative red tape the scientific community sees as safe and effective research geared towards optimal results. There is a reason drugs are studied thoroughly, most primarily to ensure the safety of its potential users. Donald Trump believes that women should never get an abortion, that birth control should be limited, that health care shouldn’t be affordable for all. That tells me that he doesn’t understand science. He has used fear rhetoric denouncing abortions, claiming that clinics “rip out the infants at even the last day of the ninth month and kill the child.” This is simply untrue. He wishes to ban abortion, for no regard to the psychological effect of a woman being forced to keep a group of cells which is no more human than a pimple. Mental health is no apparent consideration for Trump. If anything, it is something to mock, as he did when he copied a disabled reporter’s hand motions in a speech. Clearly, Donald Trump has a very ignorant, uneducated outsider’s view on science and health, one which I see as being threatening to the earth and the people on it. And again, I am shocked and saddened at his supporter’s immediate buy-in to his rhetoric and beliefs.
I am shocked and saddened overall by this election, and by the results. Trump won an election against one of the best-qualified candidates ever in history. A man who preaches hatred beat a woman who preaches hope and equality. That shows me that the America I thought I knew, or at least wanted to know, is still plagued by hatred.And right now, that hatred is alive and talking.
This morning, I was in Dunkin’ Donuts getting a coffee. Three men in front of me were loudly praising Donald Trump’s victory and publicly denouncing other races and groups of people. A Hispanic man behind them turned around and left the shop, muttering to himself “I can’t take this.” That is what this election has caused. The approval of a president to essentially force someone out of a coffee shop with the poison of hatred. I don not tolerate it, and I am very, very upset about it. America’s morals are being turned on their heads. In this day and age, events like this should not be happening.
Yet while saddened and angry, In know that likewise feeling hatred only breeds more hatred. And I don’t hate Trump supporters, truly I don’t. This election and its unfortunate results just showed me the problem that America has. As the saying goes, the first step to recovery is to identify the problem. We have done so, so now it is our time to work towards solving it. It won’t be easy and the road will be harder, perhaps harder than it ever has been. But together, we can turn this hatred around.