I’ve felt very strange since Wednesday morning.
I’ve never felt so profoundly about something like an election. I did not campaign for Hillary. Before Tuesday, I didn’t feel connected to Hillary at all. But I did vote in this election, and I voted for Hillary, because to me, there was no other option. The other option wasn’t real. It wasn’t something that I took seriously – nor was it something that the mainstream media – which I consume every day – treated seriously. Memes. Hair jokes. Mouths as eyeballs. It was always, always a joke.
And because of this, I thought this election would be a breeze. I thought we would be sitting back at 9 pm, celebrating an already called election for Hillary. I thought we would feel the same way we felt in 2008 after President Obama won – elated, as we made history.
Looking back now, how could I have expected this to have been similar to the 2008 election? This election was never treated like an election. It was a joke to the media until the last week. Neither candidate was given any merit. It was merely pantsuits vs. hair memes.
Instead, at around 9 pm, I started to feel sick to my stomach. I felt similar to how I imagine 60 million Americans felt and millions more around the globe. I felt similar to how the data analysts and the reporters started to look on air, panic stricken. I went to bed at 11 pm, because I couldn’t bear to watch the elevation of a racist and misogynist demagogue to the presidency of my country.
I woke up on Wednesday feeling physically crushed. I had no idea how much this election meant to me until Tuesday night. I guess it feels worse because I truly believed we were waking up on Wednesday with a woman President. I already believed it was a done deal – because to believe otherwise was to believe in a world I didn’t think existed anymore.
I’ve taken to the internet, to news outlets, to the words of Hillary Clinton and President Obama to find consolation and encouraging words of hope for the future. It is all eyewash, however. I think the real answer is that the evil bound up in the Trump campaign must be actively resisted. Us millennials can’t just ignore it all and retreat to craft beers and memes. It’s that smug, self-indulgence that has made the Trump voter so alien to me and me so alien to the Trump voter. As my dad put it to me, ‘if you love America, and you should because it has given you, me and the world so much, you will take the idea that we must fight to heart. There are so many things we can do to join the fight for what is right, and we must never be afraid to voice our dissent to some of the awful crap that will be coming our way.’
Well Dad, I am going to get involved and I am going to find a way to fight for equality. Yes, we were dealt an imperfect candidate. But no one is perfect. She has had 30 years of fighting her way to the top, and she failed. As a woman, I can’t help but feel slighted by this election. Lindy West in her Opinion article in the New York Times this week put it best — ‘We, as a culture, do not take women seriously on a profound level. We do not believe women. We do not trust women. We do not like women.’ This has never hit home for me more than this week.
As Tim Cook recalled to the Apple community from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” And that’s what we’ll do. I, like so many millions of other people, wake up with a fire ignited within me. A fire to work for what we believe in – for woman to be able to stand in the highest positions in the world. I already know it’s possible. I already wholeheartedly believe it. I didn’t realize that other people still hold these prejudices and unconscious bias against woman. And yes – I’m lucky that I don’t feel the weight of sexism and racism on a daily basis. I am surrounded by powerful and inspirational women every day at work and in my life. And it’s easy for me to forget that this is not the norm.
I now know in my bones that it’s not yet the norm. We still only aspire to a world where “we hold these truths to be self-evident that all people are created equal.” This week I was reminded that I will never know what it’s like to be a confident male walking into any room. I was reminded that as a woman, I am not judged by what I say or what I think, I am immediately judged by what I look like, and how my mannerisms come across. I was reminded that when I cry or act ‘irrational,’ I am perceived as a foolish woman who can’t control my emotions.
The world needs to change for women, it needs to change for minorities who are told to sit down and gratefully take what they are given, or else. We must stand up to and fight against racism, sexism and bigotry. We will fight to break down stereotypes of each other, and will fight to be more accepting of everyone. And we will prevail.
I can’t wait for the day when the world sees a woman who is dedicated to these principles in the highest office in the world. And that day will come because, as Lindy West wrote “human endurance is limitless and the fact that we lost doesn’t make us wrong; the fact that they don’t believe in us doesn’t make us disappear.”