Y’all, yesterday was rough. I discovered that this election meant more to me than I ever could imagine. I experienced feelings that are usually reserved for things that happen within my private sphere. For the first time, I made an election personal.
There are 5 stages of grief: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Denial happened for me around 8pm Tuesday night. I am in the anger stage right now and that’s okay. I will get through this, but it’s a process. You may ask why I am experiencing grief. I don’t know that I have a firm answer to that question, but I do know that I’m not alone.
Tuesday night, I couldn’t make myself go to bed. I dozed in my recliner, but I never slept. I watched in disbelief as it felt like all the hope I had built up for the future was gone. Truthfully, I know that is an exaggeration, but it was how I felt at that moment. When Marianne got up she asked me how the rest of the coverage went and I just started crying. No amount of soft words or “it’ll be okays” were going to make this situation any better. I couldn’t even really tell her why I was crying. I mean it was an election and my side didn’t win. It happens to half the country every four years! Where was all this emotion coming from? I don’t really get that emotional over much and here I was sitting staring at my best friend with not enough words to express all the feelings. I was grieving and though I didn’t realize it yet, so was half the country.
When I got to school, I went to see a friend. We got through our hellos and again the tears started. We cried because we had lost something. We lost lots of somethings. We tried to talk out our feelings, but there were not enough words – just emotion. We sat through my first class; because at that moment, that was where I needed to be. I needed a metaphorical wake. When the words came, they expressed our fears, our sorrows, and yes, our grief. We talked about what we have lost.
Women all over this country have lost the ability to say, with confidence, that our bodies are our own. This isn’t only about abortion either. When this country elected Donald Trump as our next president, it decided that it was okay for a man to gawk at, comment on, or grab any part of our bodies. This country elected someone with absolutely zero respect for women. This country elected a man who thinks he can “grab her by the pussy” or walk in on naked teenage girls because he has money.
If you are a woman who has never encountered any type of sexual harassment, you are in the minority. From a young age, our bodies are not our own. We get pulled into laps and tickled whether we want it or not. As we get older and start to look like women, our father’s friends tell him to “keep us locked up” and more often than not, comment on our growing breasts or say “call me when she’s 18…” When we become an adult, it doesn’t get any better. During college, 1 in 4 women are raped and even worse than that statistic is the fact that we are blamed for it. When we go out with the girls, random men rub against us and grab our behinds. It’s all okay though because it’s just what men do. When they tell us to show them our breast to get a drink, it’s okay because it’s just a joke. It’s just “locker room talk.” When we enter the work force, we learn that sexual harassment is just part of life. When we are looking for a mate, we learn that rejection can be dangerous because if you turn down a date with someone it’s because you are a lesbian who “needs a lesson on what it’s like to be with a real man” — not because you’re just not interested. With this election, we told our little girls that all of this is okay.
Some of us have also lost the right to health insurance. Mitch McConnell has already said that their first order of business will be to repeal the Affordable Care Act. You can read my whole story from earlier in the week here: http://wp.me/p84ZbE-g . In short, I have Lupus and if the ACA is repealed, I will have no protection from the insurance companies. They will be able to charge me whatever they want or deny me coverage all together.
We have lost what little equality we were gaining in this country. The Republican voter base is largely made up of conservative, evangelical Christians. Don’t get me wrong, I have respect for these people; respect for their beliefs and their devotion. Many of my closest friends fall in this category, but that life is not for everyone. They believe, for the most part, that women are to be subservient to men. How is this still a thing? Every woman has the right to live life as she chooses — with or without a man. We lost the ability, for now, to show little girls that a woman can rise to the highest office in America. We lost this, not because Hillary Clinton wasn’t qualified, but because men refused to vote for her. She lost to a man with no experience, no decorum, and no respect for anyone. She lost because sexism is still a thing here in the US. Sexism is blaming a woman for her husband’s affair. Sexism is calling a strong woman nasty. Sexism is judging a candidate by what she wears instead what she says. Sexism is paying a woman less for the same job as a man.
Yes, sexism is still a thing. Racism is a thing. Homophobia is a thing. Xenophobia is a thing. We cannot continue to let these “things” control our country.
I am not the only one grieving. The women in this country are in a state of mourning. We will pass through all the stages and recover. We will rise. We will educate. We will vote again. What we won’t do is be silent. As of right now, there is a secret Facebook group that is over 3 million women strong. This group was started less than a month ago. Women are joining together to fight for ourselves. To fight for our bodies. To fight for the LGBT community, immigrants, people of color, and anyone else who will be marginalized in our new political climate. We will fight and we will win because we truly are stronger together.