In past years, I’ve had a political blog (or two) about my candidate of choice. But this year, I couldn’t rally enough love for any of the candidates to write a single post. I’m a woman. This doesn’t mean I support Hillary. But it sure as hell means I’m against Trump. So here we are, election season going strong, and I have found the need to say…something. Anything. Here goes.
Today, when early voting opened in my home state, I made damn sure that I made it before they closed to vote for Hillary Clinton.
I don’t like her. Like, at all. I have theories about how she’s a soulless robot or has teeth where you shouldn’t…but those are ridiculous and neither here nor there.
I much prefer Jill Stein, to be honest. However, I chose to compromise my own personal preference to vote in a way that might matter just a little more – because while every vote counts, I learned long ago that voting for a third-party candidate is a road to heartbreak (college-Erin was very psyched about Kinky Friedman running for governor).
Still, I voted for Hillary because I know how very hurtful a leader like Donald Trump would be to our future, particularly the future of minorities and women. And I need to do more than just complain about how there are no good, electable candidates.
For those of you, regardless of gender, who say that Trump’s comments are not as large a concern for you as other issues, I respectfully disagree with that ranking for a number of reasons – but most of all, I disagree with it because if he’s willing to go against social norms that began to be established around the late-19th century, what else is he willing to throw out the window? Is this really a man we want in charge when we’re facing a real racial tension problem across our nation? Is he the person who’s going to continue to help us move forward as a society rather than backward?
I personally think he’s the worst one for the job.
To those of you who say that his words are normal, that they’re not a concern at all…I would ask you to consider what that says about you.
I would ask you to realize that you are the people who hurt people like me the most.
I’ve had a lot of experiences with guys in my life, both positive and negative. I have never been seriously sexually assaulted or raped, and I’m thankful for this. But sexual harassment and gender discrimination have shaped my daily interactions with not just men, but women as well, my entire life.
Take, for example, the coworker who thought it was okay to “compliment” me in a coworker’s room by telling me how good I looked after losing 70 pounds…and then take it further by rubbing my criss-crossed thighs and saying, “You’re flexible, too, that’s hot.”
Funnily enough, that coworker’s actions bother me more than the guy I was interviewing, on trial for rape, who asked me, “Hey girl, how you feelin? You happy to be assigned to my case? You know I like women who have more curves to love.” (He was guilty, just FYI.)
An instance I actually like to laugh about is a blind date I was set up on by a friend. During those first getting-to-know-you back and forth, I discovered that apparently, a woman owning a house (or probably property in general) was a deal-breaker for my date. He wanted a wife who would move into his house that he owned, change nothing, and essentially just fill the role that his maid, take out, and (I conjecture)porn filled in his single life. When I called my friend from the bathroom, his answer was, “Yeah, I hoped that he wouldn’t be so misogynistic on the first date, sorry…”
Or the time that I, as a teacher, was sexually harassed by a student and when another came to my defense (though I have to admit, he chose an inappropriate avenue to pursue), the defending student got in trouble and my harasser became a victim to be pitied.
But really – here’s the truth: I, like many other women, judge a man not only by how he treats me, but how he allows others to treat me.
And if I’ve already decided that I care about you, that you’re a good person, and you matter to me…and then you let “locker room talk” or “bros before hos” be a reason you won’t stand up for me.
So while I was of course upset at the freshman stupidly grinding all over me in the hallway when I was the on-call PA my junior year of college, despite my orders (and eventually pleas) for him to stop, he wasn’t the reason that I cried when I got back to my room. Yeah, he was a complete dick (though from looking at his Facebook profile now, he seems to be a respectable human being), but I could write him off as an idiot who I didn’t care about.
I couldn’t do that with the two male coworkers who laughed at his antics and not only didn’t help, but encouraged it. The ones who, when I asked them to help me and back me up on this, went along with his jokes, telling me if any of us touched him, he could file charges against us (we all knew he couldn’t). Because apparently, rubbing yourself on a woman when she’s telling you to stop is hilarious. Just a giant joke. It took a third male coworker showing up and immediately inserting himself between us to protect me to end that show.
You know, what hurts me most when these things happen isn’t the asshole perpetrators – it’s the thoughtless actions, non actions, and comments from those I respect.
What really hurt was my friends finding nothing wrong with the situation, which told me that I had no right to feel uncomfortable, or maybe even that I wasn’t worth protecting. That I didn’t have value to them.
What really hurt was that a teenager could harass me and get away with it because he, too, had something bad happen to him, and while violence should be punished (I agree), talking to your female teachers like they’re pieces of meat put in the classroom for you to lust after isn’t (I don’t agree).
What really hurt on that blind date was my friend knowing that the guy he set me up with was a misogynist, and thinking that it would be okay to offer me as a potential romantic pursuit.
What really hurt was needing to continue to cover that story, somehow unbiased, because his idiotic comments had given me a window in with his lawyer if I didn’t publish them. My harassment became a positive tool in the eyes of journalists (me included), and it took years for me to see what was wrong with that.
What really hurt was the fact that I didn’t even realize that I had been sexually harassed by my coworker because I’m so used to that kind of treatment, and then feeling even more ashamed that I hadn’t spoken up in the first place.
What will hurt the most is if you disregard my rights, fears, and needs as a woman in this society and vote Trump, a man who sees women not as equal to men, but as pieces of meat – at best, as animals. Voting for Trump shows me that you don’t care about me or any other woman you know.