Never before have I felt “lesser” because I am a woman. I do today.
Back a year or so ago, when Donald Trump announced he was running for the United States presidency, I thought it was awesome. I mean, FINALLY! An election season with some reality-show flavor! No more stuffed shirts blathering about the national debt. Lots of colorful sound bytes (“You’re fired!”) and PLENTY of “SNL” skits. Oh, the “SNL” skits! I joked how I hoped Trump would win the ticket so the fun could go on and on and we could all enjoy Hillary Clinton eat him alive during the debates.
Then, shit got real.
It stopped being funny last night.
Leading up to election night, I felt frustration with my beloved media for stirring up the pot in what we media professors call the “agenda-setting effect.” This is when media outlets decide what issues are important and emphasizes those, whether or not they deserve such emphasis. I thought the whole “uh oh, Trump may be gaining ground” prognostication was more hype. I mean, HOW could America vote in a neophyte? A sexist, homophobic, xenophobic bully with absolutely no experience? I know people hated Clinton, but this? I mean, come on!
How wrong I was. How wrong the media and the pundits were. I watched a bunch of them on CBS last night, trying to come to terms with what just happened, and the shock on their faces said more than their bumbled words.
In any race or game, someone wins and someone loses. I get that. That’s the nature of it all. This whole “everyone’s a winner! Here’s your trophy” mentality isn’t good for anyone and it enforces the creation of a group of entitled snowflakes who can’t tie their own shoes.
So yes, I get that someone has to lose. And I get that there are and will always be the Republican/Democratic divide and arguments (until the country wises up and widens the pool from just these two groups, but that’s another topic). But this! This is beyond the typical party issues and arguments. This is bigger. This is very different.
Last night, America voted in someone who I honestly can’t figure out or understand. What I do understand is the cruelty, negativity, hate, sexism and racism that flowed forth so rapidly—and was COMPLETELY excused and accepted by the public. I was naïve to believe that being a woman in this election would help Clinton. It brought her down. If she was a man, do you honestly think she would have been subjected to such ridicule or held at fault for a spouse’s actions?
This opened my eyes to the fact that the gender divide is real, and it’s ugly. Bullies win, and win big. I thought that as a woman, I could do whatever a man could. Perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps the country isn’t as advanced as I hoped. Perhaps the #repealthe19th hashtag trending earlier this season should have clued me in.
What scares me even more is that people may now feel entitled to be cruel, hateful, bigoted, misogynistic and sexist and have it excused because that’s just “being honest.”
This has been called an f-you to the Obama Administration, a cry by the “trodden down white man,” a middle finger to the establishment. But call it what it is, people: a permission slip to be an asshole.
I’m not being a “sore loser” because my team didn’t win. I didn’t vote for my team because the leader had ovaries. I went with my choice because it is congruent with who I am and what I stand for. Not everything, but a lot. Just because I’m liberal doesn’t make me a baby killer or a lover of death-row pardons. So of course I’m shaken when the team that did win is one that stands far and away from the issues I hold true and important.
I told my kids this morning that our team lost. My daughter looked incredibly shaken and asked “are we going to war?” THAT is what upset me about the loss last night. The fact that Trump has inspired fear and distrust in us and especially in our children. He glorifies the “you’re with us or we’ll kick your ass” mentality that is such a problem with society today. I reassured my girl that no, we are not going to war. I reminded her that while the country voted in someone who does not believe in what we believe in and does not espouse the values that we do, that does not mean we have to agree with everything he says or does.
And we are a strong gender that does not deserve to be treated as anything but equal. We should not have to still be fighting for equality, nor should we have to stomach hashtags that promote the abdication of our basic rights to voice our choice.
“And as a woman, you CAN do whatever you set your mind to,” I told my girl, even if now I’m not sure I believe it myself. And that is depressing.
I told her that we can still stand for what we believe in and above all else we value love and respect. We respect ourselves, our family, our friends, our community and our world. We treat others how we want to be treated. We encourage compassion. We don’t judge and we don’t fan the fires of hate. We can disagree and still love someone. We don’t always win, but we always try and we don’t get bullied into believing what we don’t feel right about. Hate is never OK.
Yes. That is right. Hate is never OK. I hope this election turns out better than I fear. I hope it’s not a complete and utter return to darker times. I hope that it doesn’t encourage others to become the worst versions of themselves.
But above all, I hope that it does not boil us down into a civilization of ugliness and hate.