11/9/16: From a Millennial, To My Nasty Women
This morning we woke up to an America where a reality star cheeto won a presidential race over a woman with thirty years of political experience.
I know as I rolled over, looked at this sunny November morning out the window then curled back into my covers that there was a feeling that hit my sternum that felt almost like grief.
I know that while last night was about politics, it also was about more than politics for many of us. This is because we have all met Trump. We have all met the man that smiled to our face then talked about our pussies behind our back. We were bullied by him in middle school, we watched him date our best friend in high school, we’ve had him as a boss or a supervisor. He’s been our guest on our rafts and we’ve given him tight lipped, “I’m gonna be nice to you but don’t fucking touch me,” smiles. That’s why this feels personal.
And we’ve all been Hillary Clinton too. We’ve all held our head high, been abrasive and bossy and bitchy to get what we want accomplished. We’ve watched the men in our workplace and our schools be celebrated for their assertiveness while we walk the tightrope of being “nice” and gettingourmotherfuckingshitdone. We’ve been perfect while the men in our lives have been allowed to be flawed and brave.
I’m not going to try to explain or prove this feeling to excess, because I’m not writing this to explain. I’m writing this for the women that already know what I am talking about here.
Okay you beautiful women and girls, come in close. Closer. Let me rest my hand on your arm, pass you a hot cup of coffee. This is what I have to say to you.
This morning when us twenty five year old women woke up, it felt like a lie. Flashing in and out of the blue and red maps of the United States we studied with disbelief –
…Our fathers looking us in our seven-year-old eyes and telling us we could be anything, an astronaut or a scientist or an artist or a president of the United States.
…Our favorite high school teacher telling us we have a bright career in front of us.
…Sheryl Sandberg saying all we need is to lean in.
…Electing Barak Obama eight years ago and feeling for the first time that there might be space in our public sphere for a human other than wealthy, white, property owning man.
….Our mothers telling us to be kind, to treat every human in our life with dignity and respect.
This morning all that felt fake. I wanted to take Sheryl’s dainty paperback and shove it up her nostril and yell, “THIS IS THE COUNTRY I AM DEALING WITH!” I know, I see you out there nasty woman. Being a woman in this country is not fair yet. We surround ourselves with cushions of other women who support us and celebrate us. We date men who meet us as partners and equals. We marry men who are strong enough to love strong, fiery women. We sit down to holiday dinners with brothers raised by independent and intelligent mothers. We live in college towns and river communities. We “unfollow” the social media feeds that don’t agree.
And this morning our bubble broke. Do you need a refill on that coffee? Because my shit is about to get real and a little bit 1984 feminist here.
That gut wrenching, icky feeling you have this morning? Sister – that is your gut. That is your womanly instinct. Don’t silence that. Look at me in my eyes. I know you’re tired. I know you’re only 25 – and you are weary. You wonder if you have a right to be so young, so privileged and still so exhausted. No, you aren’t spoiled. You feel this because you understand, you are the blood and flesh of the legacy of women that came before you. You can feel their work hang heavy on your hands. You feel that fight in your bones, that battle – it was born into you. It was passed from your great grandmother to your grandmother to your mother to you through those XX chromosomes. Suffrage, equal pay, reproductive rights, health care, childcare, compassion towards immigrants, balanced equal marriages for anyone who loves each other – this mattered to your mother and your mothers mother and we have been fighting this battle for so long.
And yet as the red crept onto the map last night, we realized that that fight we thought was over, isn’t. Maybe our mothers knew this all along. I know, I know I’m putting a lot of meaning into some political, complex, country-wide decision. But it doesn’t matter if Hillary Clinton wasn’t the perfect candidate or if the system itself is broken. We thought that electing Hillary Clinton last night would say, “See – you can be a flawed, complex, post-child-rearing-years, unsexy woman in this country and achieve success!”
What I want to say to you nasty woman is I know you hurt. I know you feel that empathy for your sisters, daughters, minorities, high schools of Hispanic students wondering what will happen to their aunts and older brothers, your LGBTQ friends who just want the chance to marry, for the wild places you love and all those people (men too) that aren’t wealthy and white and swinging a dick around underneath their designer slacks. I know you see how hard Hillary has worked only to be shut down right as she achieved the ultimate goal. You are scared your career and your life will be that way too.
Today, go find a quiet place under a cottonwood tree that has almost dropped all its leaves. Roll around on the kitchen floor with a four-month-old puppy. Have coffee or a glass of wine with your favorite nasty women. Let that strong man you love hold you in his arms. Browse through the, “how to feel better about last night’s election” recommendation list. Grieve, it’s okay. It’s a grief your mother has felt and moved through, your grandmother too. You are strong, you are powerful and you are surrounded by a sisterhood of womanhood that can transcend bullshit.
My mother once told me, “No one can take away your power.”
You have your art. You have your love. You have your people. You live in a country where you still have the freedom to dance and raise your middle finger too.
It’s only just begun and we’re closer than we ever were before. As I read today, “It’s not the end. It’s Wednesday.”
The Emerald Lens HOW TO FEEL BETTER ABOUT LAST NIGHT’S ELECTION list:
- Remember that we still have Beyonce.
- The sweet voice of good ol’ Garrison Keilor: “We liberal elitists are now completely in the clear. The government is in Republican hands. Let them deal with him. Democrats can spend four years raising heirloom tomatoes, meditating, reading Jane Austen, traveling around the country, tasting artisan beers, and let the Republicans build the wall and carry on the trade war with China and deport the undocumented and deal with opioids, and we Democrats can go for a long , brisk walk and smell the roses. “
- The Onion
- This fly fishing video of a bunch of goofy ladies catching a big ass steelhead, no pinkwashing to be found.
- A female presidential candidate that will be part of our history books regardless: “To all the women and especially the young women who put their faith in this campaign and in me, I want you to know that nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion. And to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and to achieve your own dreams.”
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
This from Terry Tempest Williams: “Let us pause and listen and gather our strength with grace and move forward like water in all its manifestation: flat water, white water, rapids and eddies, and flood this country with an integrity of purpose and patience and persistence capable of cracking stone.”
- The good news from this election. This one too.
- This explanation about why Trump was elected: “They’re getting the shit kicked out of them. I know, I was there. Step outside of the city, and the suicide rate among young people fucking doubles. The recession pounded rural communities, but all the recovery went to the cities. The rate of new businesses opening in rural areas has utterly collapsed.”
I was scared to look at my news feeds this morning, afraid I would see only blaming and sadness. But all I see there is support and love for everyone, including Trump supporters – and that gives me hope. Heading to the hills for a sunny afternoon,