I don’t want to talk about politics, but here I find myself, unable to do anything else. I know that Louisiana is a conservative state in a conservative region, so I know that my liberal opinions are not the majority in this state.
But I have a few things I need to say (respectfully).
I had lunch with my dad yesterday, and although we are both on the same page politically, we have family members who are thrilled that Trump won. My dad told me not to argue with any of them over politics at family gatherings. “I fought with my dad about the military,” he said. “We had bitter, bitter fights. He joined the Navy during World War II, and he actually performed amputations, held men as they died. It was an extremely defining part of his identity to say he was in the Navy. When I joined the Navy, it was during peacetime, and they all seemed like a bunch of Boy Scouts to me, and I didn’t take it seriously. He was so disappointed in me for not feeling the same way about it that he did, and it wasn’t until he died that it finally occurred to me that we saw different things while enlisted and why it meant so much more to him. I simply hadn’t seen the same things he saw, and I regret so much that we had those huge fights.”
Then a few minutes later, my dad told me to calm down. I was crying and angry, and he told me to calm down.
“I can’t calm down,” I told him. “This feels so personal to me. The fact that a man who has said the things he’s said about women is now our president is very hard for me to accept as a woman and especially as the mother of two daughters.”
“I know he said some things, like that you can ‘grab women by the … pants pockets …’ but that’s how it’s been since the earth cooled down,” he said.
I think it’s cute that my dad subbed in “pants pockets” for the actual word President-Elect Trump said, but the word is not the problem. Has never been the problem. The problem is that “since the earth cooled down,” men have been grabbing women as if it’s a birthright.
“Dad,” I said. “Please think about what you just said, about not having the same experience as your father, about not seeing the same things he saw. That is what it feels like to me as a woman right now. Because you have not seen and experienced the things I have as a woman.”
I have friends and family who voted for Donald Trump, and I love them and have loved them throughout this entire election cycle and will never stop loving them. I know they feel the same way about me. We just have had different experiences, and we are all shaped by our own experiences. Their experiences have shaped their views just like my experiences have shaped mine.
I don’t personally know any Trump supporters who are actually hateful people — and I know a lot of Trump supporters. For the most part, they’re all parents, like me, who want what’s best for their kids, who want to hand over the best version of America that we can. These people whom I call my friends are not racist, homophobic, misogynistic, etc. I know a lot of Republicans who voted for Trump because he was the Republican nominee or because they liked his economic policies or any number of other reasons — voted for him in spite of and not because of some of the hateful rhetoric he put out there. But it’s hard for me to not be scared right now of the kind of message this sends my daughters. I have gay friends and black friends and Muslim friends who are scared right now because of things that Trump and some of his more extreme supporters have said. I’m not making blanket statements like, “All Trump voters/Republicans are X, Y, or Z,” but many marginalized people actually do have a right to be scared right now — and have always had a right and a reason to be scared.
If anything, though, I take heart at how many Trump voters I’ve heard in the past two days saying they don’t want to be labeled as bigots. Good! That means we agree that bigotry is bad. I think it’s a bit disingenuous for them to pretend their hands are completely clean on this — they heard what he said, and they voted for him anyway — but if you truly condemn bigotry — if you’re not one of the 58,581 Louisianians who voted for David Duke — then great! Let’s work together to smash it!
Because I’m going to work to smash it. Donald Trump is our president now, and I accept that, but I’m not going to accept hatred or sexism or bigotry. I’m going to continue to fight for my and my friends’ and my daughters’ right to simply exist safely in America. If it turns out it doesn’t take a fight — if it turns out that it was just campaign bluster, as I hear some people saying now — so much the better, but I’m staying on guard.
So no, Dad, I’m not going to calm down. I am largely numb to it now after 36 years of living as a female and 25 years of catcalls, sexual violence, and casual everyday misogyny. I’m not that worried for myself anymore. But I am going to fight for better for my daughters. And I urge all of my Republican friends — particularly the parents — please fight with me.
Wednesday, for me, was for mourning. For many of my friends and family, it was for celebrating. That’s how politics works.
But starting on Thursday and for as long as it takes, I committed to fighting against hate and sexism and discrimination. I hope my friends who celebrated on Wednesday join me in this fight.