Thursday, November 10, 2016

Because of You

On the eve of election night, we watched Hillary videos and danced to Beyonce's "Who Run The World?  I wanted you to remember this night in history.  I wanted you to wake up to a world where a woman held the highest office in the land.  I wanted you to see your potential as limitless.  We were so happy.  I promised you that I'd wake you up when they announced Hillary's victory.  We wore Hillary shirts together in solidarity.  We walked by the polling booths on our way to school and I  told you that we were making history today.  Your smile was so large, so infectious and I felt practically buoyant because we were witnessing something amazing.  Then I saw state after state turn red, and I felt despair. I felt broken.  I climbed into your bed and sobbed.  I watched you while you slept.  I watched your face, your chest rise and fall with each breath and I felt such sadness.  The world that I imagined, didn't exist.  The world that I promised you was gone.

This election gutted me.  Even now, two days after the fact, I weep.  I heard her concession speech, and sobbed all over again.  Hillary wasn't just presidential, she was gracious and magnanimous.  This woman, who devoted her life to public service was dragged through the mud over and over again because she was too ambitious?  Too calculating?  Too shrill?  Don't tell me it wasn't about sex because it absolutely was.  This was a woman who has been despised for 20 plus years because she dared to move beyond her role as first lady.  Those seeds of hatred and misogyny were planted long ago, when we were angry that she insisted on keeping her last name or when she had the audacity to attempt to fix our broken health care system.  We scoffed when she talked about it taking a village to raise a child, and now as a parent I recognize the truth in those words.  Every failure of her husband's became her own.  Hillary wasn't just resilient with each of her missteps, she was practically a punching bag, springing right back into action every time.

Now I'm left with living in this world.  My girl didn't win.  Hope didn't win.  Another man won.  The man that spewed hate and stoked fear won.  How do I explain this new world to my daughter?  This is not the world I Imagined for her.  I'm not going rehash all the reasons he shouldn't be president.  If anything, this only proves to me how unfair the world is.  A woman with Hillary's resume lost to a man without any prior government experience.  That glass ceiling is high, and on my side of it, looks pretty impregnable at this point.

I'm trying to move forward, really I am.  This sadness is deep.  If I'm honest, it's not just that Hillary didn't win, it's that so many people voted for Trump.  I'm angry.  One in five women is sexually assaulted. Trump's words matter, whether it's locker room bluster or not.  Picture five little girls that you know, and know that statistically, one of them will be assaulted.  One.  Isn't that too many?  His words and actions tacitly approve sexually predatory behavior.  People heard the horrible things he said, and thought "Hey, no big deal."  Trump's hateful rhetoric normalized all the fringe fanatics.  And that is very scary to me.  The KKK endorsed him.  That should be enough to make you question your vote.

Now what?  How do we move forward?  How do I explain to my daughters that the bully won?  The best person does not always win.  The world that we imagined together isn't quite here yet.  In the meantime, I will get up every day, and I will set an example of kindness, intelligence and curiosity to my daughters.  I will research and find an organization where I can volunteer.  I will donate to worthy causes like Southern Law Poverty Center and Emily's List.  I will join the League of Women Voters and get involved locally.  We need more women in politics.  I'm tired of watching old white men in suits tell me what to do.  I'm also going to start reading biographies about powerful women to my girls.  I want them to hear stories of amazing women daily so that they internalize that the Sally Rides and Sojourner Truths are just as vital in shaping the story of America as any male president.

Because of you, I will be a better feminist.  I will not be complacent in my blue bubble.  I will work for candidates that share my views in the next election cycle.  I'm awake now.  My daughters are strong and brave forces of nature and I will fight like hell to make this world more like the one we imagined together.