It seems almost everyone has feelings to express about the U.S. election just passed. The world is clogged with words, exactly as it should be: words of outrage, despair, solidarity. It is how we will move through this. There is no way around. So speak your grief loudly, your fury and disappointment. Here is mine:
The English have a phrase: I am gutted. This week I am wrenched apart, drained of the righteous, joyous, feminist optimism that built over my lifetime and peaked when Hillary’s victory seemed likely. On election day, I scrolled through endless voting pictures on social media: women who were born before the 19th Amendment, women with their mothers and daughters, women in Suffragette-white pantsuits.
As a girl in the ’70s, I wore out my “Free To Be You and Me” record. I watched Wonder Woman, Charlie’s Angels, the Bionic Woman. Flawed feminist icons, sure, but I assumed progress was inevitable. I think we all did. Later I read the second-wave feminists and came to worship writer-warrior women like Margaret Atwood, Marge Piercy, and the cousin I never really knew, Muriel Rukeyser. In 2004 I attended the March for Women’s Lives, where Hillary Clinton spoke, introduced by Gloria Steinem as “our future president.” (I imagine some eyes rolling at that: “See, more proof of her long-standing entitlement, the limousine-liberal establishment’s pick, shoved ahead of the people’s Bernie Sanders.”) I like and respect Bernie and Zeus knows I’m on board with his positions. For me it was never about not liking Bernie (although I could do without his more aggressive male acolytes) but wanting a woman in charge SO MUCH. Not any woman—Carly Fiorina? Nope. HILLARY “women’s rights are human rights” RODHAM. The shrewd public servant who’d make women an actual priority. For years we’d watched abortion rights chipped away, miscarriages criminalized, women humiliated with forced ultrasounds and condescending speeches by scolding men. It was ENOUGH. And Hillary would do something about all the damn guns, too. She’d expand on Obamacare. She’d build on so much of Obama’s good work. I liked that she took our abuse and just kept going.
Then: election night. Holy shit, she’s losing. Millions of us watched in sickened disbelief: there was no way those who voted for Trump (or as I unaffectionately call him: Dump) didn’t know how awful he was. How racist and misogynist. No, that was WHY they voted for him. He was every weak kid’s idol: the nasty, no-nothing bully who got his way through threats. I find him unbearable. I know I’m not alone. I also know I’m not at risk the way some others are in Dump’s America, where white supremacists, sexual predators, and gun nuts feel emboldened. So many fellow Americans feel targeted, because they are: LGBT, people of color, immigrants, Muslims, Jews, women…who else? No one but the straight white Christian cis male feels safe right now, and if he’s smart he won’t count on that. One day they might come for him, too. All I can say is I’m sorry. I tried to prevent this. I will stand with those already marginalized, who may now be persecuted. I won’t be silent. I won’t get by just because I can. We will get through this, we will help each other, because what is the alternative? We will vote that bastard out and send him scuttling back to his tacky gold apartment to oversee his bankrupt empire.
We will feel so good, that day.