My therapist, via phone from Colorado told me today, “try not to think of it as personal; but it’s divisive” after I told her about realizing a former friend had unfollowed me on two social medias. I was hurt, not knowing when it happened, as I’d dutifully liked probably every baby photo this person posted. I realized this on election night when this person posted an illustration of the president-elect riding a tank, holding a large gun with an eagle flying above him. I’d done much in the past to lift this person up with me professionally, and what I got for it was someone who treated me disrespectfully in work situations and could not cease “locker room talk”, also in work situations where, if anyone was the boss, I was.
I’d thought my forgiveness was mutual, but I guess I underestimated how much I’d been disliked as I grew and evolved in my former role at work. An evolution that meant taking responsibility for my own actions, which meant not being friends with people who couldn’t understand the boundaries, couldn’t sit with me at lunch and goof and know a little bit about my personal life and then not be completely inappropriate in the moments when I was running the show.
I don’t usually post much on “the book” but I lost my shit on election night. It felt good. I had woken that morning thinking: “This is the day the first woman president is elected. I can’t believe I just had eight years of democratic rule and I’m getting eight more years – from a woman!” I pictured the situations where I may have been made to feel like a dumb chick, and how I could feel safe in the knowledge that our country was under female governance. Finally, no one could be validated in sexist behavior anymore. Hillary was watching!
As the horror of Tuesday unfolded, I, like my friends, raged online about the stupidity of my fellow Americans, the shocking reality that such a truly awful, unqualified person could be elected to the highest office on the planet, the reality that it makes hating on everyone who isn’t a straight white male okay for the insecure fuckers that need to feel reassured in their patriarchal entitlements. I unfriended several people out of my own fear of being trolled by my larger online friend group after one person from high school I hadn’t marked “acquaintance” snuck through, and I heard through my sister that my angry post reached and potentially offended at least one family member. Why am I not allowed to be offended by their voting for the abhorrent Republican candidate then?
And here’s why I am offended: As a woman, I’ve been treated disrespectfully by colleagues in professional situations where it was imperative I be in calm control, and it shook me to my depth to know they were clearly not supporting me. I’ve been told that it was my fault they related everything I did to my need to find a man (as a single woman in her 30s) because I’d told them about my personal life and dating experiences (because I thought they were my friends). As a teenager, I was groped in the dark in a costume closet at my high school by two guys I also thought were my friends. They flip the light off in the closet as soon as we are in it and start grabbing me. As a teenage girl, you don’t know what to do in these situations. Part of you wants attention from these guys who are your friends, but not this kind? You tell them to stop, and then you never tell anyone. As a twenty two year old living in New York City, a man begs to go through the turnstyle with me on the train. My metro card isn’t scanning and when it eventually works, no one else is on the platform and he squeezes in with me. Because, I am scared to say no, to be disagreeable despite my deep discomfort with his request. Naive as I am when he didn’t steal my wallet I feel I just helped a teenager who is trying to get somewhere. I turn around and look at him and he is masturbating as he says “thank youuuuuu…” In Detroit, at age twenty-nine I am at a red light in a car I’ve just bought, a man pulls up next to me and masturbates with his back arched so only his penis is in the window. When I back up to get away from him and (hopefully) turn right and drive away he does the same and is aggressively next to me again. And we just elected someone who is on tape saying he forcibly kisses women and grabs them by the crotch (nevermind the piles of other accounts out there of inappropriate behavior towards women and girls). This might be a joke for a non presidential candidate, but like Bill Clinton was skewered for smoking pot, a presidential candidate is held to a completely different set of standards. As a reality star the president-elect can be an asshole. As a president you most certainly can not.
It’s not lost on me that Hillary’s email scandal (an actual non scandal caused by the carelessness and technical inefficiency of her aides and herself) was brought up AGAIN because of Anthony fucking Weiner. More than once in the debates her opponent brought up Bill Clinton and his conduct in the 90s. We are talking about male sexual transgressions. But what about Hillary herself? She’s got nothing like that on her record. But it seems our president-elect’s wife can have all kinds of trash in her past (nothing I’d actually skewer a woman for, but I’m making a point). It’s okay, because she is married to someone who hates women, and clearly he owns her and nothing she does matters anyway. Therefore, Hillary is repeatedly denounced for Bill’s affair.
It hit me in the days before the election how much Hillary had been through, how tough she is, how much people dislike her for it. And that she kept trying, and kept working. And why is it always brought up that she is hungry for power or something? Don’t all politicians have to be hungry for power? Otherwise how can you do that job? But people find this so distasteful in a woman. What the fuck is her opponent if not hungry for power?
I was up till 3:30am on election night. When the news announced that Hillary had called to concede, I broke down. I was hopeful to that point, I really was. To think of her, a dedicated public servant, a scholar, a legitimate politician, a Secretary of State (!) having to call and concede to this gross epitome of every wrong thing about the United States, in addition to a blatant sexist, racist, xenophobic caveman – it killed me to think about. This was around the time of the realization of my social un-friending. It’s the constant decision of a woman like me – will I be successful, or will I be liked? Will I be angry, or will I be liked?
Wednesday, she delivered her speech as the bigger person that she is. I saw myself, in my idolization of boys as a little girl. Not only could they pee standing up, but they seemed to have all the glory (except for maybe Wonder Woman and the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders). In kindergarten, like the “In A Sea of Princesses Dare to Be Batman” meme, I actually was batman for halloween, in a too big costume I could barely see out of in the school parade. As I got older, I looked up to rock stars. Why was it ok to look so cool if you were a guy but unladylike if you were Courtney Love?
I thought of when I went to the college radio station at eighteen, and, intimidated by it being all boys, I decided not to try and have my own show (I later made a couple guest appearances on male friend’s shows). I thought of the times I’d been embarrassed or disrespected by coworkers. The high school friends grabbing me in the closet. The subway, the stop light, and the time I walked into a newsstand in New York and a faceless person (I was too shocked to turn around quickly enough) put their hand up my summer dress and grabbed a handful of my ass. The time my ex boyfriend told me that when he first met me he thought there must be something wrong with me since, at thirty six, I hadn’t been married or had children.
And mostly, the time in elementary school, when I’d finally gotten the ball in bombardment (like dodgeball but both sides throwing balls). A popular, athletic boy said “give it to me!” and I didn’t. I remember being thrilled with the ball actually in my hands, the power to finally throw it! I threw the ball myself. I hit no one; I wasn’t that strong or fast. The gym teacher (who enwrapped girls in awkward and uncomfortable bear hugs as they left the gym) said “why didn’t you give it to Brandon?” Oh, how they program us when we’re young.
Hillary was me at that moment. Every time someone had told me I couldn’t do something, and it was implicit. Because you’re a girl. And could it ever be so blatantly obvious, as she had to concede to this utterly unqualified buffoon, that ultimately, it had so much to do with this, with her being a girl. Even if that’s just because people don’t like girls like her. Another woman steps aside and lets a less capable man take her place.
Some people have said to the numerous protests going on: please stop. Give the guy a chance. The peaceful transfer of power is so important. But I say: BRING IT. If this is what it takes to uncover what’s really going on here? Let us rage. Let each person scream to the world that they are no okay with the hate speech that the president-elect normalizes. Let us scream to the world that it isn’t okay for the country to AGAIN be subjected to rule by a candidate who doesn’t win the popular vote. Let us, as women, stop worrying about being liked, and be okay with being angry. And let us not give up.