I have spent a lot of time, over the past week, thinking about Donald Trump’s words. Frankly, they come as no surprise to me and I’m a little miffed that this is what seems to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back – of course it’s not until he talks about white women that people begin to pull away from him. But of course, this is when I feel the most horrified, as well.
I was surprised, however, by my own reaction to hearing that recording: pure, unadulterated anger. I was actually shaking, and even now thinking about it, I want to cry. I kept repeating, I’m a fucking human!, as though I needed to remind myself of this fact. And all I could feel was my blinding rage, as I replayed every sexual transgression that I, my mother, and my friends had ever experienced. I have had kisses forced upon me, I have had my ass grabbed by strangers, I have had men shove their fingers and tongues in places I did not consent to. These things have hurt me, in ways even I don’t fully understand. And here, we have a fucking presidential candidate speaking about these things so cavalierly – and people are still going to vote for him.
During past campaigns, I have been quick to dismiss most candidates’ arguments against the others’ as muckraking. Sure, sure, Obama did this, Romney did that, but in the end, it’s all pretty much the same, because anyone who actually ends up on that ticket is going to have skeletons in their closets. This is different – I am no longer apathetic. I am livid. I actually, physically hurt when I think about the countless people (men and women) in my life who have invalidated everything I experience, who have called me crazy and irrational because I believe that women absolutely still experience oppression, every fucking day – and YES, even in America, and NO, not just from sexual predators – from coworkers, from lovers, from parents, from friends. All women are impacted by it, whether they are consciously aware of it or not. And all other genders are impacted by it, too.
Perhaps Michelle Obama put it best: “This is not something we can ignore, not something we can just sweep under the rug as just another disturbing footnote in a sad election season…. I feel it so personally… the disrespect of our ambitions and intellect. The belief that you can do anything you want to a woman? It is cruel, it’s frightening. And the truth is, it hurts. It hurts. It’s like that sick, sinking feeling you get when you’re walking down the street, minding your own business, and some guy yells out vulgar words about your body… We are drowning in it. And all of us are doing what women have always done. We’re trying to keep our heads above water. Just trying to get through it, trying to pretend like this doesn’t really bother us. Maybe because we think that admitting how much it hurts makes us, as women, look weak. Maybe we’re afraid to be that vulnerable. Maybe we’ve grown accustomed to swallowing these emotions and staying quiet, because we’ve seen that people often won’t take our word over his. Or maybe we don’t want to believe that there are still people out there who think so little of us as women. Too many are treating this as just another day’s headline. As if our outrage is overblown or unwarranted. As if this is normal. Just politics as usual…”