Permission to get political for a second…
On the morning of November 8, I woke up after only five hours of sleep and SPRUNG out of bed without snoozing once (that never happens). I went for a run and I ran the fastest 5K I’ve ever run by a whopping 50 seconds. I spent a ridiculous amount of time picking out my perfect Election Day outfit. I was excited.
I was excited because I was about to go cast my vote for a woman who I truly believed was going to be the first female President of the United States. I thought I was going to witness history being made, arm in arm at the CA Democratic Party HQ with my friends who I traveled to Nevada with to volunteer for Hillary’s campaign.
I even posted a cheesy, yet heartfelt, Facebook status, because that was obviously the cool thing to do on Tuesday.
I think we can all agree that people on both sides of the aisle saw this as a symbolic election. Some saw it as an opportunity to repudiate the political “establishment.” Others perhaps saw it as a chance to make a statement to the rest of the world, one way or the other. To me, the symbolism of this election was apparent, and my feelings that day were best summed up by an excellent opinion piece in the New York Times:
“Maybe this election was the beginning of something new, I thought. Not the death of sexism, but the birth of a world in which women’s inferiority isn’t a given.”
I’ve lived a privileged life. I grew up in a middle class home, with parents who remain married to this day, and who have always been employed and were able to put me through college at a great university. I’ve faced struggles here and there, but I acknowledge that it could be much worse.
The point is, despite my privilege, I feel as though the American people’s decision on Tuesday proves that, as a woman, I am a second class citizen in this country. A white woman like me will not be President of the United States. At least, not this year.
No man has faced the public scrutiny that Hillary Clinton has endured over the past 20+ years. She was blamed for losing votes for her husband because she didn’t take his last name. She was told she looked too “Wellesley” to be First Lady of Arkansas. She has been called shrill, cold, a bitch – you name it. Our country overlooked one of the most qualified candidates to ever run for president…because she is a woman. You can say it was because of her emails. Or because she’s corrupt. But we have put up with men who have been much worse, and done much worse, without batting a single eyelash.
And we continue to. Half of the country just put their support behind a man who is a well-documented sexist. Who asserts his power over women. Who fat-shames them. Who marries them then cheats on them and divorces them. Who thinks we should be punished for making private and serious health care decisions about our own bodies.
(That is not to say that those who put their support behind him are equally sexist, or racist, or bigots, or whatever other buzzwords we hear people say about him. Every person who voted for Drumpf has their own unique reason for doing so, and most of their reasons come from a place of deep dissatisfaction with the state of affairs in our country right now. It does no good to name call.)
The day after the election, when I walked back to my office from lunch, I got whistled at by a construction worker. I found myself suddenly feeling silly for thinking this country that still fosters a culture of catcalling could possibly have been trusted to empower a woman by electing her to our highest office. On Thursday evening as I locked my bike to a rack outside of CVS, a car slowed down and its driver yelled at me to, “BEND OVER!”…My feelings were again validated.
I have so many thoughts about this election that I haven’t even begun to process. But what I do know is that now more than ever, I feel the need to stand up for women (and other minorities, but that is a WHOLE other blog post) everywhere. No more shying away from the word “Feminist.” No more laughing off inappropriate jokes. No more turning a blind eye when I see blatant discrimination. It is no longer good enough to sit on the sidelines and pretend that injustice doesn’t exist, or to be complacent because I live in the California Bubble. Our fight is only beginning.