Tag Archives: Election 2016

Dear Francis

5 Dec

The other day I made the grave error of engaging with a troll on The Internet. I know, I know, rookie mistake. But in my defense the only reason I got involved in the second place was because this guy (who we will call Francis) posted something I didn’t like in response to a (rather funny, if you ask me) joke that my uncle posted in the first place. I get irritated when people say things I don’t like to my family and close friends. And so, after some thought about the nature of my response I held my nose between my fingers and dove into the depths, responding to Francis with a clearly thought out and argued historical analysis about the Electoral College’s roots in the era of slavery and how, even today, it gives largely white states undue power in terms of the election of our President and that (among other reasons) is how we ended up with a racist, misogynist, ableist, white nationalist sympathizer in the White House. Well, wouldn’t you know it, my response was met with all kinds of assumptions about who I am and what I believe. And then he said that the election of Trump had nothing to do with racism and that Hillary lost because she was a smug, elitist bitch, but misogyny didn’t play a role, and that I “don’t understand (my) condition as a woman.”

My condition as a woman.

I pretty much tapped out of the conversation at that point but I would just like to say, right here right now, that I am perfectly aware of my “condition” as a woman. It is impossible for me not to be. Here, Francis, let me tell you a little something about it.

Every single month I bleed like crazy. It is like a goddamn flood. I bleed so much that the first two nights I have to sleep with an ultra tampon AND a pad and I have to get up at least once, but usually twice, to change my tampon because I will have bled through it. And, while we’re talking about that, a few years ago they stopped making the tampon that I needed because the OB company decided that, rather than throwing ladies with a heavier-than-average flow some sort of a bone, they would instead discontinue the tampon we relied on and tell us we should go to the doctor because our flow was unhealthy. We were unhealthy. Yeah okay great. Funny enough they only stopped offering the ones I needed in the United States so I had to have someone in Europe buy them and ship them to me so that I wouldn’t have to get up 4 times during the night the first two days of my period. So, Francis, you try forgetting about your “condition” when you’re dealing with that nonsense every 27 days.

And then there is just the day to day business of going out in the world. A few months ago I was heading home from my friend’s place after having dinner. It was warm out and I was wearing a floor length dress that I felt really pretty in. The guy I was walking with was on my left side. Two men approached us. As they passed on the other side of me one of them leaned in and, loudly enough for me to hear but in a low enough volume that my companion wouldn’t, he said “you look good without a bra.” In about a fraction of a second I went from feeling human to feeling like an object. Just like that. Just because some dude felt like pointing out the fact that he was staring at my tits and he liked what he saw. Stuff like that happens to us on the daily. Makes it hard to forget our “condition.”

Oh and then there were the two times that the same dude spit on me while I was running. And that time the delivery guy grabbed my ass as he rode past me on the sidewalk on his way to drop some food at someone’s house. And the time some asshole threw a glass at my face and gave me a black eye all because I dared to tell him I wouldn’t serve him a drink. Oh, man, and that one time I went out to drinks with someone I thought was my friend and he spent the entire time trying to fuck me. And how could I forget that Christmas night that I was reading in a bar and some dude informed me that women only really write about shopping? That was a great night. Oh and the one time I went bra shopping and ended up realizing how ashamed I feel of my own body because I have been disallowed from defining my own sexuality. And, of course, a few weeks ago when we elected a man who, in a recorded conversation, had admitted to repeated sexual assaults. Shall I continue? Because I can. I can go on for days, Francis.

But I won’t.

Honestly, if you don’t get the picture by now you never will. Honestly, Francis, I wish I could be a little bit less aware of my “condition.” Because maybe if I was less aware I could just, you know, live. I could just live like how you just live. Only if I could do that, I wouldn’t spend my spare time telling people about themselves.  I wouldn’t use my energy to talk about things I don’t know and could never hope to understand. I wouldn’t say that misogyny wasn’t a thing all while dismissing someone based on her gender. My stars, if we could be less aware of our “condition,” if we had that luxury, imagine what we could do. Imagine what we could do if we weren’t working as hard or harder for less; imagine what we could say if we weren’t constantly being talked over and talked down to; imagine what fun we could have if we weren’t constantly policing our drinks or concerned about some drunk asshole raping one of our friends; imagine what we could accomplish if people would just see us as equal.

So, you see, I am more aware of my own “condition” than I could possibly put into words. It is made apparent to me day after day after day through my own experiences and through the experiences of my friends. And so Francis when you and people like you dare to tell me what my own experience is, dare to try to explain to me that misogyny isn’t a thing, that this country wasn’t built through an incredibly sexist system, that I have all the opportunities as you, that Clinton wasn’t the victim of the patriarchy, that I should feel lucky for what I have, well you’ll have to excuse me for laughing in your face. Because you are so deeply intrenched in your own damn world view that you have no space for anyone else. And there are a fuck ton of us. So shut up, and get the hell out of our way. We know our lives. Your penis does not make you an expert.

To the Media: Do Your Damn Job

28 Nov

As you might have noticed, I am not usually someone who has a hard time coming up with things to say. Generally I am chock-full of opinions about all sorts of different things. But right now, I am simply at a loss. I really am. I feel like I went to sleep one night in a world that, though confusing, was something I was capable of working within and woke up the next morning here. In a place that makes absolutely no sense. It’s like, seriously, what the fuck is going on?!

I thought that perhaps by this point in time I would have backed away from my initial response to the election. The response that, if I had to sum it up for you, went as follows:

If you voted for Trump: fuck you.

But the thing is, the farther and farther I get from around 9:00pm on November 8th when I started crying because The Times had called  a Trump win, the more and more I double down on that sentiment. But now I would like to go ahead and actually extend that feeling of disdain beyond the confines I initially laid out for it. I would like to reach out to the media, not everyone, certainly not Charles M. Blow who is absolutely killing it, and say a big, hearty fuck you to them as well. Why? Well, I’ll tell you.

The media has a responsibility. It has a responsibility to report on the actual things that are happening out in this country and in the world. Do you know what it does not have the responsibility to do? It does not have the responsibility to normalize Donald Trump and his supports. And yet that is exactly what so much of the media has been doing since the day the sky fell down. Let me tell you a little story. Last week my friend Jessy and I were sitting in Chattanooga, Tennessee at a small restaurant downtown eating some dinner and drinking some wine. CNN was on the TV. CNN, the network that, by the way, Donald Trump called the Clinton News Network throughout his campaign. It was the night after Richard Spencer held that horrible conference in Washington, DC. So there we were, sitting, eating, trying to have a conversation about something other than the fear and disbelief that have been a mainstay in our lives since the election, when on the television screen came a video full of white nationalists giving the Hitler salute in the name of the President-elect of our country. And CNN called them the “alt-right,” a name coined by Richard Spencer himself to try and mask the true message of bigotry and racism promoted by the movement he now leads.  I was horrified but CNN, it seemed, was not so much. And it kind of led me to ask myself the following question:

Who the hell is the media trying to protect?

And then, quickly, I came to the answer:

Itself.

And I understand, we all have a job to do. My job is to serve people drinks and to write about what I see and understand of the world around me. I do the latter here, where I am not accountable to anyone but myself and my readers. It is also a relatively safe space because no one has found me yet in my small corner of the Internet. I have not been the recipient of death or rape threats, have not been sent hundreds of anti-semitic memes. I am my own editor. And the thing that’s crazy is that that sort of abuse, unfortunately, seems to come with being relevant. (I can’t imagine what Charles M. Blow and other brave journalists out there doing their jobs are enduring these days.) In ways, I won’t feel as though this blog is very successful until I have a few vile haters. And I hope that if that ever happens, I have the strength and courage to double down on my beliefs and communicate them with even more gusto. I guess I won’t know until that day comes. If it does. All that being said, it is my responsibility, it is all of our responsibility, to talk about what we see, what we experience, and what we understand. It is not our responsibility, and it is certainly not the media’s responsibility, to try and justify our current situation in order to not ruffle feathers.

In fact, ruffling feathers is sort of part of the point. It is what helps to keep tyrants out of The White House.

Anyway back to my story. I sat at the bar with Jessy and I totally and completely lost my shit as I told her that never, never in my lifetime did I expect to look up at a television screen and see the Nazi salute on any station other than the History Channel. But clearly we are at a horrible place. And then, about 15 repeats of the clip later, CNN changed to a new topic: Hamilton. And I watched as a white man took the screen and lectured a female reporter on just how rude the cast of Hamilton was to Mike Pence. And I watched as she chose not to take the path of most resistance and defend them, but instead she agreed that, yes, they were very rude and yes, they were out of line, but maybe Donald Trump and Mike Pence stand for some problematic policies? Maybe?

Maybe?!

We just watched the Nazi fucking salute like 15 seconds ago, lady! And you know what, the cast of Hamilton wasn’t rude: they were fucking afraid. They are afraid like so many of us are. And they, unlike so many, used the platform that they worked so hard to gain in order to communicate their fears in quite possibly the most straight-forward and polite way possible. They simply asked Mike Pence to look, to listen, to try and understand and maybe, just maybe, to humanize them a little bit. That is what free speech and artistic expression and the goddamn Constitution is all about.

So I guess I lied at the beginning: I do have a lot to say. But I guess what it all boils down to is this:

We are not somewhere new. We are somewhere old and horrible. We are somewhere that humanity has been before and it is about time we have the courage to call this what it is. We have the President-elect asking for the registration of Muslims. We have groups that used to be fringe but seem to be moving more and more into the mainstream calling for the release of phone numbers and addresses of teachers who they deem un-American. And we have a media who is so afraid of doing its goddamn job that it allows Donald Trump’s childish Twitter account to bury every news story of any value. Remember that Times article from Hitler’s rise where they said that Hitler wasn’t actually a threat? Where they said that he didn’t really mean all the things he was saying? Does that sound familiar? Because it should. Maybe the Times is calling a spade a spade this time, more or less, but a lot of other outlets are not. We have been here before. We have the power to impact the outcome.

An Open Letter to Hillary Clinton

22 Nov

Dear Hillary,

Hi.  Hi. Hi. We don’t know whether to start by saying ‘Thank You’ or ‘We’re sorry.’  Mostly right now though, we’re sorry.

We’re sorry that we live in a world that casts aside the most qualified candidate based solely on her genitalia, genitalia that, by the way, is more evolutionarily sound. We’re sorry that we didn’t do enough. We’re sorry that we didn’t knock on doors, make campaign calls, call enough people out. We’re sorry that we didn’t believe in the real possibility of a Trump presidency. We’re sorry that we  asked you to change who you are so many times to reflect our own absurd value system and when you emerged on the other side we called you disingenuous. We’re sorry that the young girls of today still have to live under the shadow of that glass ceiling. We’re sorry that years of lies about you became truths. We’re sorry that people still don’t understand the things you have done for us over 30 long years of hard, selfless work. We’re sorry that as women we’re not enough to combat someone as hateful as Donald Trump and we’re sorry that if you were a white male this probably would have turned out differently.  We’re sorry that the media portrayed you as impersonal, insensitive, inauthentic, shrill, dishonest, and weak. In reality, we’re sorry about how little the media acknowledged you at all. We’re sorry that a less qualified, less accomplished politician might have been able to secure The White House based solely on the fact that due to his masculinity he was not threatening to the status quo and we’re sorry anyone made it seem like you weren’t groundbreaking. Which, by the way, you are and always have been. We’re sorry that people who supported your opponent in the primaries couldn’t get on board with you on election day.  We’re sorry that your opponent in the primaries himself had a hard time throwing his weight behind you when it mattered the most. We’re sorry about the electoral college. We’re sorry that you got 2 million more votes than your opponent and it still wasn’t enough to secure you the presidency. We’re sorry that we, the American people, didn’t get the president that we wanted, that we deserved. We’re sorry about Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. We’re sorry that some of your votes might have gone to someone who didn’t even know what Aleppo was. We’re sorry about the fuckers who didn’t vote, especially the white men who were guaranteed this right from the jump. We’re sorry that the Voting Rights Act was gutted. We’re sorry that the emails plagued you, even though all you did was follow Colin Powell’s advice. We’re sorry about James Comey and Anthony Weiner and your husband and Julian Assange and Vince Foster. We’re sorry for all the men who intentionally or unintentionally stood in your way, even, somehow, in death. We’re sorry that being qualified isn’t enough, that being prepared isn’t enough, that being experienced isn’t enough. We’re sorry that you had to work so hard to overcome your gender and it still wasn’t enough, that you had to work 100 times harder and by no fault of your own you still couldn’t get it done. We’re sorry that you had to be a level headed adult in a world full of distractible toddlers. We’re sorry you had to stand in front of the cameras and concede an office that should have been yours to a demagogue, a bigot, an asshole.

But Thank You. Thank you for being so fucking classy. Thank you for getting up over and over and over and over and over and over and over again, putting your head down and getting shit done. Thank you for being an amazing senator and a baller secretary of state.  Thank you for showing us that there’s a place for us in all walks of life and that our dreams are possible. Thank you for being unapologetically a woman.  Thank you for being smart as fuck and for not being ashamed of it or hiding it.  Thank you for your Wellesley commencement address in 1969; not only was that awesome but it still inspires to this day, almost 60 years later.Thank you for fighting tooth and nail and doing so with poise; you might not have broken the ultimate glass ceiling but you certainly paved the way for one of us to smash right on through. You did so much to weaken the patriarchy that soon enough we will dismantle the whole damn thing and for that we are eternally grateful. Thank you for never giving up. Thank you for inspiring Pantsuit Nation. Thank you for inspiring a nation period. Thank you for holding the torch in the women’s movement for so damn long.  We know that people complained about your shifts in policy and opinion over the years but, seriously, thank you for listening and changing your approach according to what the people needed. Thank you for being a force to be reckoned with. Thank you for being an unapologetic policy wonk. Thank you for being prepared. Thank you for absolutely TROUNCING Donald Trump in every one of those three debates. And because it bears repeating, thank you for listening even when people didn’t give you the same courtesy. Thank you for your seemingly unending well of confidence because we all know that as women in this society confidence is hard to come by and even harder to hold on to. Thank you for ALWAYS taking the high road. Thank you for being a role model. Thank you for being a Nasty Woman. Thank you for being a badass bitch. Basically, thank you for everything you’ve done.

We see how hard you worked. Believe us we know, we acknowledge it and we strive to work as hard as you.

Hillary, we wanted to hear your voice and see your face for the next four years. We wanted to see another first in The White House. We wanted to continue to be proud of the person who represents every single one of us at home and abroad as we have been over the past 8 years. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Instead we will follow your lead, pick up the torch and keep on fighting until we are equal. And then we will wake up the next day and fight some more so that every single person from every background and every walk of life has the benefit of equal opportunity. We’ve got a long way to go, but thank you for getting us just a little bit closer. Every little bit helps.

With unending respect and admiration

All of the ‘thank yous’ we have

Love always and forever

Jessy and Rebekah

This is NOT a Peaceful Transition, Stop Playing.

19 Nov

To start off, please read this article by Teju Cole. I know that I already linked to it the other day, so I am sorry for being repetitive. But, honestly, sometimes things are good enough to require repetition. And this is one of those things. I sort of want to link to his article in everything that I write for the next few years that in any way relates to the complete and utter horror show that is our in-coming presidential administration. I want to link to it and I want to send it to people and I want to slide it under doors and fold it up in holiday cards and mail it to my elected officials. I want to keep telling people that no, this is not normal and that no, we should not fall in line. We should not stop protesting and talking and writing and calling our senators and representatives to register our sheer disbelief, despair and dread that there is now a white supremacist mere feet from the Oval Office. That Donald Trump has just made Jeff Sessions Attorney General. Jeff Sessions who, by the way, opposes both immigration reform and bipartisan efforts to cut mandatory minimum prison sentences. Oh, and he also thinks the NAACP is communist inspired and anti-American and once referred to an African American prosecutor as “boy.” And while we’re at it how about that time he was rejected by the majority Republican Senate Judiciary Committee to be a federal judge in the 1980s, back when we used to disallow racists from holding high posts in the judiciary. He also doesn’t like the Voting Rights Act which makes sense if you think about it, because his chances of re-election most likely decline with every person of color that has access to the ballot box. Oh how far we have fallen.

And then there’s Mike Pompeo. So for those of us who find President Obama and Hillary Clinton too hawkish, we should be pretty upset about Mike Pompeo. And for those of us sick of hearing BENGHAZI screamed over and over and over and over again as some sort of sick rallying call against Obama, Clinton and the entire current administration, we should be prepared for a new uptick because, despite hours of hearings and a panel that found no new evidence of wrong-doing by the Obama Administration, Mike Pompeo and Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio are still convinced there was a cover-up. Much like the email fiasco, it seems as though evidence doesn’t hold quite as much weight as a hunch does with some of these guys. And they are all being assigned top posts in the government. It makes me feel as though the next four years are going to be much more about evening a score and much less about the effective governing of a multi-cultural, multi-racial nation that is in the midst of a serious crisis.

But I guess I already knew that.

So through all of this I keep thinking about Hillary’s concession speech and how she said,

We must accept this result and then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead. Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power. We don’t just respect that. We cherish it. It also enshrines the rule of law; the principle [that] we are all equal in rights and dignity; freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values, too, and we must defend them.

On Wednesday the 9th when I watched this speech in utter disbelief, it seemed like the right thing for her to do. I was impressed by how well-rested she looked; how prepared to do the unthinkable; how poised and eloquent she was in the face of a result that must have been even more shocking to her and her team than it was to a lot of us watching from home. (Except for maybe those people who called a Trump win weeks or months ago and are bragging about it. It’s like, great, you were right, but you still have to live here in the shit with the rest of us so shut up.) In that moment, while watching her encourage us to demonstrate the democracy we want to live in, I thought to myself

FUCK! This is exactly why she should be our goddamn President!

But now that over a week has passed and we have Donald Trump and Mike Pence and Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions and Mike Pompeo and a whole host of other angry white men who just won’t fucking go away I am starting to think that maybe that speech wasn’t all that I thought it was. Maybe it wasn’t the right thing to say. I mean, I still think she should be our President, that remains unchanged (duh!), but the speech? I don’t know.

Here’s the thing. I totally agree that one of the hallmarks of a democracy is the insistence on a peaceful transition of power. It is one of the things that makes our country great. I mean, just look at this letter that George HW Bush left for Bill Clinton when the former was bested in his re-election campaign. It exemplifies true class and is a perfect definition of a democracy in action. But I think that one of the important things about a peaceful transition is that it must be peaceful on both sides, and that simply has not been the case. I am not talking about how Donald Trump essentially said he would not accept the winner of the election unless that winner was him. In an alternate, superior universe in which the popular vote fucking mattered and Hillary was our commander-in-chief we would all be prepared for some long, drawn-out bullshit legal charade that Trump would have used to jumpstart his media empire. No, what I am talking about is that there is nothing peaceful about the appointments that Donald Trump has made so far. There is nothing peaceful about appointing documented bigots to some of the most important posts in our federal government. There is nothing peaceful about a man who believes in conversion therapy; there is nothing peaceful about someone who publicly declared that he didn’t want his children going to school with Jews; there is nothing peaceful about someone who jokes about the Ku Klux Klan by saying that he thought they were “okay until he learned that they smoke marijuana;” there is nothing peaceful about someone who has ties to the Koch Brothers.

So I don’t know exactly what I am proposing here. I feel like living in the United States over the past week has been this incredible process of emotions. It’s like, every day there is a new absolutely terrifying thing to accept, a new asshole to read about, a new way that so many of us are realizing we are going to be governed by people who hate us. Because it isn’t just that I don’t like them, it’s that they don’t like anyone who doesn’t look and sound like they do. Anyone with a different skin tone, a different accent, different genitalia, different abilities, a different religion, or different ideas about romantic partners. It’s that they are not going to try to Make America Great Again. They are going to try to Remake America in their own image. And that image is repressive and violent. Because repression is violence.

So, no. Maybe on Wednesday November 9th when there was still a dying hope that all the bigotry and hate that Trump spewed during his campaign was smoke and mirrors and he was really not as bad as we all thought, maybe at that point we owed him an open mind. Although I am reluctant to say that after all the hate he stirred up he was owed anything good from us. But now, on November 19th that time has passed. We tried and he made us look a fool. There is nothing peaceful about this transition and it is about time that more Democrats in power, and that more private citizens, start making that point. We are not a country at peace, we are a country in complete and total turmoil; a country in which people feel afraid to be themselves.

As far as I am concerned we owe Trump nothing but what we owe ourselves: a fight.*

 

*And to stop reading his fucking Twitter feed. Seriously. How can we expect his staff to do fucking anything if they can’t stop him from making a fool of himself on Twitter every goddamn day like a giant, orange-colored toddler in tasteless neck ties.

Swastikas at The New School

13 Nov

How much do you guys know about The New School University, formerly The New School for Social Research? I know a few of my readers (oh hey, GPIA!) know this little tidbit but for the rest of you, I just want to fill you in on a little history. It’ll tie in. I swear. The New School was founded in 1919 by a bunch of progressive educators unhappy with the direction academia was going in the United States. In 1933, it was set up as a University in Exile; a graduate division that was set up as an academic haven for scholars who had been fired from jobs in fascist Italy or were fleeing from Nazi Germany. The University in Exile had later incarnations and some of the notable scholars associated with it include Hanna Arendt, Erich Fromm and Max Wertheimer among others.

So let me just, real quick again, say something which is actually probably more for me than for any of my readers because this shit has been violently banging against my head all night. The New School for Social Research, my alma mater, with the motto “To the Living Spirit,” acted as a University in Exile during one of the darkest times in this world’s history for academics fleeing certain death. For academics fired by Stalin and fleeing Hitler. And last night someone drew a series of swastikas in one of the dorms. There were four large swastikas scrawled on four separate dorm room doors. Each of the rooms housed at least one Jewish student.

Open anti-semitism in New York fucking City at a school that has acted as a safe haven for scholars fleeing totalitarian and fascist governments at home.

And so I guess I have to say this because, I don’t know, I feel confused that some people maybe are missing the point.

This election is different.

This isn’t that someone won that we didn’t like. I mean, listen, I will be the first to say I would have been massively disappointed if Jeb Bush or John Kasich won. And I would have cried if it had been Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz, but especially the latter. But this is not just about someone who isn’t “our gal” winning. This is that the forces of hatred have been awoken and they have been thrust into the middle of our cities and our towns. The hate is coming from the darkest depths of the internet and appearing on the dorm room doors of young, Jewish students at a progressive university in a progressive city. The hate is coming from our peers. It is everywhere, all around us, and it is fucking scary.

So for those people who keep telling everyone to stop protesting? I mean, sure, you are welcome to your own opinion and of course and I respect that. But I think you should read this article by Teju Cole. It was in the New York Times Magazine this past weekend and it is everything. It basically lays out, in words so beautiful I could never manage to formulate them on my own, let alone get them to flow from my brain and onto a piece of paper, how easy it is to normalize and excuse what is going on all around us. It says what so many of us have been trying to say. It says that this election is different. And so again, while I respect your beliefs that the protests are getting in the way and setting us back I have to disagree with you, and strongly. This is a democracy in action. And it has to happen this way, it has to continue. For most people it isn’t about contesting the election, it isn’t about being sore losers and not accepting a result or anything like that. It is about communicating that we simply cannot stand by and watch as our government, our country, our goddamn home is coopted by hate and fear. We simply cannot let this stand. We must refuse. Because the alternative is simply too hard to imagine. When we stop fighting, when we stop protesting, when we stop organizing and writing and talking that is the moment when we let the fear and the hatred take hold of us, that is the moment that we throw our hands up and say, “well, the people have spoken.”

No.

So I don’t know about you but I am not about to let that happen. I have spent a lifetime being active in my social circles and in my small space on the internet but more or less complacent the rest of the time. But enough is enough. If we needed this to awaken us all, then we needed it. But we sure as hell better take this as an opportunity to fight for change and for equality and for the end of hatred and abuse, otherwise we are no better than the rest of them. So, yeah, protest. Keep protesting. Protest for the next four years, no matter what form that protest takes. I am finding mine.

Swastikas at the fucking New School. This shit has got to stop.

Let’s Do This Right

12 Nov

This has been a hard week for a lot of us. For most of the people who read this blog, I suspect. Expecting to walk into the ring and come out victorious, we got TKOd in the 9th round and found ourselves lying on the mat surrounded by friends asking if we were okay (we were, and are, not) staring up at a glass ceiling that we all expected to be shattered and yet there it remained, in tact as always. And we were angry. And we lashed out on blog posts and in conversations with our friends and families, at protests in cities all over the country, and we promised to be united and to work. We promised to combat this regression with positive change. We poured over the internet at stories of harassment, of people afraid to leave the house, and we were incensed. This was not our America. And then…

And then…

We started coming across posts by our friends, by our supposed allies. Posts of Melania Trump, the wife of the president elect (I still shudder when I say that), in the nude. Because yes, she was a model. And yes, she did occasionally pose nude. But what does that have to do with anything? Why are people posting photos of past First Ladies in conservative dress and then one of Melania Trump, naked? I’ll tell you: because people are sexist as fuck.

And honestly, in a lot of ways, that is a large part of what this election came down to. And that is what this election, or post-election I suppose, is still in part about. Misogyny. And if you think it isn’t as bad on the left then you are kidding yourself. If you think I’m wrong, just look at how much time it takes for you to find a naked picture of Melania on some “progressive’s” timeline or website. Or how long it takes one of your male friends to conveniently forget to mention the role sexism is playing in the aftermath. See him omit comment about his female friends when he talks about all the groups reporting abuse or those afraid to leave their homes in the past few days. In a world where a lot of us are looking for safety and support, photos of the future first lady meant to degrade her, meant to make her appear immoral or dirty or like a whore because she, at one time, was a model, are not safe, they are not supportive and they should not be welcome.

But then here’s the other thing. Female modeling, especially in the 1980s and 1990s when Melania was in the business, was about pleasing men. (I hope the industry has gotten better?) Do you think those photos of her were meant to make women want to buy something? No. So now we have a woman who was directed and photographed by men in order to please men being shit on by men for being a whore. Oh, okay. So it was okay when you liked it but now? Now somehow her having her photograph taken is some sort of moral flaw? Are you kidding? Melania was doing her job and, as far as I can tell, she was doing her job well. She has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of and we should not be using the fact that she took advantage of her height, kickass body and good looks to pay her bills as a way to demean her. There is nothing wrong with what she did.

So let’s get this right, friends. Do I think there has to be something wrong with Melania if she married that asshat? I sure do. I mean, gross. But also, who fucking cares. We have bigger fish to fry. We are looking at four years of Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Rudy Giuliani and an empowered GOP. They are going to fill a seat on the court and undo a lot of the good Obama did. The good he was forced to accomplish through executive order because our government is chock full of cry babies. We have a lot of work to do. And, as far as I am concerned, and sure, call me elitist, we have the moral high ground. We have a nominee who incredibly graciously conceded the presidency to a someone with absolutely no experience or relevant qualifications because, democracy. We have a sitting President who, despite his obvious dislike for the man, had a long conversation with him in the Oval Office and tried with the strength of his compassion and his conviction to make a pitch for the preservation of the Affordable Care Act. And we have at least some percentage of the population who wants social change, who wants equality, who wants safety, who wants equal opportunity for all. (Pst….thats us.) So let’s do this right. Stop slut shaming. And seriously, check yourselves. Language matters. Silence speaks volumes. Let’s all climb this hill alongside each other and let’s not shit on each other on the way up.

What is it that the First Lady said throughout Hillary’s campaign?

When they go low, we go high.

Go high, friends. Stop posting those photos. Stop shaming women, even if they do have terrible taste in husbands.

These are scary, scary times

10 Nov

Friends. As many of you already know, today I am embarking on a journey. Today I leave, my trunk full of clothing and books, my heart heavy, and head down to New Orleans for a short but important new chapter. A time when I can reflect on who I am and who I want to be in this world. I time when I can just sit back, far away from family and many of my friends, far away from where I have called home for my entire adult life, and start building. I want to start building a me that makes active choices and decisions for where I want my life to go and becomes a more vocal person within my community, where ever that community may be. This is more important now than ever.

I thought that I, along with one of my closest friends, would be driving South in a different America than the one we find ourselves in today. I thought we would be driving in the spirit of celebration and safety, not feeling as though we are in a high-speed train, breaks failing, hurtling into the darkness. Clearly we, along with millions of others, were out of touch with the degree to which people are hurting all over this country, to the degree that people feel ignored and left behind, to the degree so many disdain the cities and the people that live within them. And I get it. Shit is hard. And I am sure I am going to be seeing a lot of hard shit on this ride – a different kind of poverty and destitution than I see day after day in my beloved New York City. And that is unfair. I truly believe we all deserve opportunity, that we should all feel as though we matter. But more than anything else, I feel as though we should all feel safe and at home here in our America. In our beautiful, diverse, America. And so, in keeping with my post from yesterday, albeit with slightly less swearing, I have just a few things to say.

I am having so many feelings right now. I am angry, I am shocked, I am saddened, but more than anything I am afraid. I spoke on the phone with my father last night and he who lived through America during the Vietnam War, through the assassinations of JFK, RFK, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, through the on-air killing of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby, through the resignation of Richard Nixon, the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the horrors of the Cold War and September 11th and everything that has come before, in between and after, he told me that he has never felt so unsure or afraid for and about the future of our country. These are scary, scary times. Scarier than ever before. And I remember speaking to my mother in the days and weeks following the 2001 attack on our country, myself in tears and her with a strength she always manages to find, and having her assure me that there are always these moments, always these times, that give us uncertainty but that we must have resolve and move forward and know there is more good than evil out in the world. That although things will never be the same, we will adjust and we will learn and we will get better. When I spoke with her at 10pm on election night, as we were understanding the reality of where we stood, her voice cracked. These are scary, scary times.

And in the past few days since Donald Trump’s election, things have become clear: we are living in a moment where people are angry and this outcome has, for some though certainly not for all, legitimized their feelings of closed-mindedness and has emboldened them to behave in ways that openly threaten those around them. My friend Ashlie shared this story:

Tonight we were at a bar, celebrating Leon’s fantastic film screening. A man came up to our table behind my seated friend and proceeded to, without greeting or warning or any words at all, put his arms around her, hug her, and kiss her cheek. We all assumed it was an old friend, and she squirmed around to see who it was, and it was a complete stranger! I said, “Do you know him?” and she said “no! Not at all!!!” We all started telling him in no uncertain terms that he doesn’t get to do that, just touch and kiss anyone whenever he feels like it, and he responded, “but Trump just won the Presidential Race.”
I am not kidding, lying, or being even the slightest bit hyperbolic. That is what happened, and that is how he defended his actions. So, know that.

Reading through the comments on her post revealed to me that there were many women who had the same exact experiences. Men walking up to them and touching them, grabbing them, kissing them and saying that because now that we have a President Elect Trump it is within their rights to do so. And then, of course, there was the one man, the one white man, who called all these women liars. These are scary, scary times.

And my younger sister, a graduate of Wellesley University, shared with me a story recounted by Sydney Robertson:

Today, Wellesley women, like a lot of America, were in mourning.

Edward Tomasso and Parker Rander-Riccardi, two students at Babson College, decided to drive around our beautiful campus with a Trump flag in a pick up truck. They laughed, screamed and sped around campus. Then, they parked in front of the house for students of African decent, and jeered at them, screaming Trump and Make America Great Again. When one student asked them to leave, they spit in her direction.

This is not my America, this is Trump’s America filled with hatred and bigotry. This is what he has provoked. Please help us get these faces out there, they cannot get away with this.

And this is just the tip of the ice burg. There are women afraid to leave the house in the hijab; women making appointments at Planned Parenthoods to get IUDs before our access to birth control, and our rights to choose, are further threatened; one member of the North Carolina LGBTQ community woke up to find a note on his car that read “Can’t wait until your ‘marriage’ is overturned by a real president. Gay families = burn in hell. Trump 2016.” And this is just the beginning. This is just 36-hours in. These are scary, scary times.

And so I head south. Away from a New York that no longer feels safe and into the unknown. I’m sure I will be fine but still, the nervous butterflies in my stomach are a little more active than the were just 2 days ago. Things seem less certain, more foreboding, and just, I don’t know, more treacherous. We all need to be more careful because a dragon has been awoken and that dragon has found his and her voice within mainstream media and our government, on the streets of our cities and our towns, and things will be a lot less safe for all of us. Every single one. Because if there is a Trump supporter who is reading this blog, and if that Trump supporter happens to be a white female (as so many maddeningly were) or a person of color, let me just tell you this:

Your vote will not save you. You cannot wear your vote as a badge of honor or protection as you move through your life. You might feel as though you are one of them but you are not. You are not part of their America. You are not equal. You are not free. And you are not safe. And so, though I might be angry and though I might not be ready to try to love you and embrace you in order to move forward, I hope that this horror blows over soon for all of us. Although honestly I doubt it will. We have a long uphill battle. And though on November 8th and the days immediately after you never thought you would be walking alongside us, you will be. Your pussies are just as grabable, your ethnicity and patriotism just as questionable, your skin color just as threatening.

I know that not all Trump supporters are awful or full of hate or voted for anyone else but who they believed would be the best person for the job. But the loudest ones, the ones in the corners of the internet, the ones touching women and threatening people of color, they are full of hate. Those are the bad ones. And so for those who voted not from a place of hate but from a place of fear and hurt, a fear and hurt that so many of us have been experiencing, you know what? We will be here. We will be here waiting for you because no one, no one deserves to be treated as lesser than. And we are, truly, stronger together.

So I’ll be seeing you, New York. Stay safe out there everyone. No matter where, or who, you are.