I was so excited to vote for Hillary Clinton on Tuesday morning. I gave my cat a little pat on the head as I left for my polling place, marked my ballot with happy tears in my eyes, and then caught a bus to work where my female coworkers had donned pantsuits and t-shirts reading THE FUTURE IS FEMALE. High spirits. Excitement. Madam Fucking President.
Fast forward twelve hours where I was to be found curled tightly in a ball on my friend’s couch, sobbing hysterically and asking him how this could happen. I felt like a child, wrestling with the incomprehensible grief of losing a beloved pet for the first time.
In the ensuing days I have read countless articles/Tweets/posts instead of working, engaged with people from my youth who still live in Montana and appear to be just as confused as me (but for a different reason: why are Democrats unfriending me on Facebook?), and have been confronted with my privilege and my gender in a new way.
All I wanted after trying to sort through my feelings of sadness, shame, humility, and anger was to be around people. I joined them in the streets. Normally, crowds stress me out to the point of triggering my epilepsy. But my experience that night was incredibly comforting. There were candles in cups, signs reading FUCK TRUMP, and parents with small children. And it was peaceful and powerful. We didn’t burn any buses. People stuck in their cars didn’t honk in anger but in solidarity. For those hours I forgot my sadness and felt a sense of hope and community I’m not sure I’ve ever truly felt in my entire life.
After that night of walking the streets of San Francisco, I now see myself in two realities: being white and being a woman. My ethnicity has given me more than I probably realize; that privilege is perhaps the greatest and least earned of all granted to me. My gender has, at times, also helped me (most often through the intentional manipulation of clichéd “feminine’ traits: hysteria, sex appeal, and silliness). But it has also been a constant and consistent source of frustration and pain, particularly at work, in legislation, and on the news. The message is pretty clear to me: there is something wrong with you, lady. Contradicting this is to potentially endanger one’s own life. How can I reconcile white privilege with female fear? I’m not sure, but I am staring it down.
My heart breaks at the stories surfacing of vitriolic hate bubbling up across the country thanks to a megaphone Trump handed the ugliest underbelly of America. The individuals he is now considering for his cabinet scare me perhaps more than his unpredictability and knack for exploitation. Not only do I fear for the stripping of rights and protections of women, minorities, immigrants, non-Christians, members of the LGBTQ community, and people with disabilities, but for literally every single human being on the planet as her temperature rises and we do nothing.
I can’t help but wonder if Father Nature would have had a better shot.