When I was married, I lived in a world where it was repeated to me over and over again that “there is no such thing as rape if you’re in a relationship.” Where it was totally acceptable to roll down the car window and bark at women you found unattractive. Where it was totally okay to shove your hand down your wife’s shirt, grab her breast (hard enough to leave bruises), and then, while not letting go, make jokes about her breast size to her father in law. Where gaslighting and emotional torture were perfectly acceptable methods to get one’s way or to blow off some steam. It was a world in which women were obligated to serve men and if a man had to get his own whatever (dinner, drink, tv remote, whatevs) then it was up to that man to put that woman “in her place” even if it took physical violence to do so (the refrain of “beat her if you have to” still shows up in nightmares sometimes).
Growing up, like every other kid/teen/college student who is remotely different, I was bullied ferociously. I had tables shoved into me, hair pulled, hit with broom handles during gym class (it was a weird game that required us to use brooms. I’ll tell you about it some other time), called names, told repeatedly that I was ugly, stupid, weird, unlovable, better off dead. And, for a while after Schindler’s List (my last name is one of the names on the list) came out, the teasing ramped up to include swastikas drawn on my locker, kids calling me Jesus Killer, and other assorted bull shittery.
So, y’know, I’m no stranger to being treated badly. I know how it feels to have someone else deny your very humanity and treat doing so like a game.
This election feels worse than all those experiences combined.
It has been a week since Donald J Trump was elected to be the next President of the United States. I feel like the fog that has been smothering me might finally be starting to lift, but everything still really really hurts, and feels really really scary in a way that is all too familiar.
First, I have to say this: The people who are upset and hurting over the election results are not reacting this way simply because their candidate lost. The images you see splashed across the news and the think pieces you’re reading do not come from something that simple or someplace that petty.
We’re hurting and afraid because we know what’s coming. It has already started. We tried to tell you what would be coming and you—those of you who voted for him—cheered him on.
I know that not every vote for Trump was enthusiastic, but by casting that vote not only are you mindfully endorsing all his rhetoric, you are complicit in every action he takes because you gave him your permission to take it.
Right now, your impulse might be to argue. You might want to get mad at me and say “I don’t support everything he said or everything he did!” But here’s the thing: you don’t get to just vote for the parts of the candidate you like. You vote for that person as a whole, flaws and all.
In the first couple of flurried days after the election when pundits were desperately scrambling for anything positive to say, I heard a lot of “well only 50% of the 50% of the country that actually voted cast their ballots for Trump, so that’s only a quarter of the population that wants him.” That? Is just a nice way of saying that 75% of the population either didn’t want to or didn’t care enough to help make sure that Hillary won.
Maybe you were someone who voted for a third party or wrote someone in. Too bad. By not doing everything you could to make sure Trump didn’t win—even if it meant voting for someone who didn’t tingle your fee-fees in exactly the right way—you helped him win. Grudgingly, sure, but some of the blame is yours too.
Perhaps you were one of the nearly 50% of the population who didn’t vote at all. “Not my fault, I didn’t even vote!” Well, if you were able to vote and simply chose not to or couldn’t be bothered? Fuck you.
75% of my country looked at Donald Trump’s platform and deemed it acceptable. 75% of my country voted against inclusivity, against diversity, against equal rights, against the environment, against education, against science. 75% of my country voted in favor of or doesn’t care about discrimination, torture, ideological ware far, national isolation, hate, walls, and even potentially nuclear war. 75% of my country is would rather I died (for no other reasons than I was born with a vagina and don’t wear a cross around my neck) than maybe sometimes have to hear someone speak a language that isn’t English.
I am alive today partly because I knew that there were people in the world who had my back. I knew that there were people out there who loved me no matter what. There were places in the world where I knew that I would be totally and completely safe. When things were bad I’d think about these people and these places and the comfort that came from that would help me get from one day to the next.
Some of those people and some of the inhabitants of those places are among that 75%. I’m having a hard time figuring out how to process that. I don’t believe for a second that voting for Trump means that they love me any less. But I’m also having a hard time believing that I will be truly safe when I am with them, no matter what. Right now, it feels like when push comes to shove, they’d be more likely to hurt me than help me and that feeling sucks.
Every day since the election, I’ve felt like I was back in my marriage but now there’s an extra layer of abandonment tossed in there on top.
Look, I know that I am not the center of the universe and that being this navel-gazey is a little gross. I know that in time I’ll find my fight and my stubbornness will rise again (and lo, my stubbornness is MIGHTY). I’ll figure out what to do because, despite how I feel right now, I know I am not alone and that even though I’m feeling low, there is a strong support system filled with people who will hold me up when I need it.
Maybe most importantly, I know that I am not the only one who feels this way and that I will need to be battle ready very soon.
But today? Today I’m still scared to go further than the front steps of my building.
That’s where I’m at right now.