The only thing more surprising to me than last night’s election was how I felt afterward.
I never truly imagined this could actually happen. I assumed we were better than this. Though I was anxious before the election, I left work excited. After all of the horrible things Trump has said/done, the American people were about to smash his hatred away. I was looking forward to a vote where all those he discriminated against were going to have a voice. I was ready for that message to be sent so all of us could move forward.
A message was sent…and it has shaken me to my core.
Now, let me be clear: the focus of this post is not the political differences between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. A decision has been made, and we have to deal with it. Rather, I want to talk about the implications of the society that elected him in the first place.
The American people screamed their vote last night. We elected a man who has bragged about sexually assaulting women. When faced with the numerous women who have accused him of such, he claimed that they were not attractive enough for him to have assaulted them. After he was called out for his disparaging comments about women, he attacked the female reporter saying she had “blood coming out of her…wherever.”
Okay, okay, I hear you. You did not vote for him because of his “locker room talk.” But by dismissing everything he has said and done to women, I interpret this as the American people saying that it is okay to sexually assault women. After all, we just elected our next president who has bragged that he can “grab (women) by the pussy.”
That vote sends the message that it is okay if I am sexually assaulted. Yes, I do take this personally. I cannot tell you how much I wish I did not. I have never felt so unvalued and belittled. I am deeply struggling to come to terms with this. Some people probably voted for Trump without agreeing or caring about his stance on women. By casting a vote for him (or a protest vote for a third party candidate) that is declaring that everything he has said, done, and been accused of is acceptable.
At the end of the day, this is so painful. I cannot get over how much this hurts…and I come from a conservative family. While I know many of my family likely voted for Trump in spite of the things he said, I wonder if they realize how hurtful this feels for me right now. What would happen if I called my grandparents – called other members of my family – and told them what their vote for Trump meant to me? Would it change their mind, knowing that I interpret their vote as a tolerance for sexual assault, or would they continue to dismiss it? If they can read this, disgusted that I voted for Hillary, then it is only fair that I get to be flabbergasted over their support of her opposition.
Here’s the deal. We are fools to think that sexism does not exist. In Hillary’s concession speech, she said, “To all the little girls watching…never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world.” I heard men scoff at this remark. So, go ahead and tell me this is not important. Try and convince me this is not still a major, real problem.
And all of these feelings that I am struggling with, that is with me being a white, straight citizen. My family has been born in the US for generations. I am still insanely privileged because I happened to be born this way. Yet, I feel like a stranger in my own country. As scared and threatened as I feel, there are others who are being even more discriminated against.
To add another perspective, I asked Stephanie Loredo to contribute to this post.
I am a multi-faceted, complex, ever-changing human. I was born Mexican and became American merely 15 years ago. I grew up in white affluent America, in a “good neighborhood” with other “good christian” kids. I lived in a bubble, in a sheltered vacuum of what I believed America was — equal to all.
It wasn’t until college I realized just how different I was from my fellow peers. I didn’t fit in with the white kids, and I didn’t quite fit in with the brown kids. I speak fluent spanish but sound just like Becky from the ‘burbs. Let’s add on another layer. I’m a lesbian. I’m a woman-loving human being who was born into a conservative, traditional Latino family. I don’t fit in with my family either. I’ve had to quietly find safe places of other queer people of color who can somewhat identify with what it is to be a double minority.
Over the past eight years I finally felt like maybe America was ready to accept all of my intersectionalities— queer, female of color. Last night, I was proven so wrong.
Trump winning is more than Trump winning. It’s how loud Americans spoke last night in opposition to women, in opposition to people of color — especially immigrants, in opposition of the LGBTQIA community. It feels personal because it is.
To be honest, I’ve actually never had a conversation with a Trump supporter. My grandfather, who survived his tour in Japan during World War II, voted for Mr. Trump. The VP of my company also voted Trump. These humans, who are very involved in my life, seem so nice and normal.
Maybe the problem is me. Maybe it’s my own privilege that I need to check. While I may not look like I belong, I still sound like it. Nobody ever pegs me as a lesbian because I don’t look like a Home Depot loving butch woman. In The Community, we call this “passing privilege.” I don’t get harassed for being gay because nobody knows I am until I disclose this information. What will happen to those who do not have “passing privilege” in Trump’s America?
I saw a former classmate post, “…we should let it go and set a good example for Trump and his supporters….” You know who says things like this? People with privilege who have nothing at stake, nothing to lose. I have many a white friend, and I have nothing against white people. Then again my white friends are always on the frontlines fighting for marriage equality, racial equality, gender equality, etc. My friends are using their privilege for good. My friends are using their privilege to inform the rest of America that yes there is still, in the year 2016, rampant inequalities for so many who are not White, Christian, straight, cis-gendered men.
Change is not going to happen by attacking those who think differently. It begins by starting an open dialogue and discussing other viewpoints – by not only accepting what makes us different, but by loving our individuality. You disagree with things in this post? Let’s start a conversation. Trust me, I would love to have my mind changed.
There is nothing more damaging than staying silent. This is a pivotal moment in our society. Are we going to accept the hatred, or will this be a wakeup call to turn our country into one that we are proud of?
We are better than this. You have a voice. Use it.