Last night, when it became apparent that our next president would be Donald Trump, I shook like a leaf and tears ran from my eyes. Not because a Republican president won and I’m a registered Democrat, but because that particular Republican won.
The truth is, I’m not the biggest Hillary Rodham Clinton fan. My general political views align fairly closely to her platform, so I agree with her on many things…but I also question her honesty and wonder enough about corruption that she wouldn’t have been my first choice for president. My vote for her in the primaries was a strategic move (one that obviously didn’t pay off)—I thought she was the only candidate who had a shot at beating Trump. Right about now, I’m wishing I had gone with wildcard Bernie Sanders, since clearly I was wrong in assuming she could beat Trump. Though I suppose Bernie might’ve lost even more spectacularly.
But this isn’t a post about politics. I’m not a political expert by any means. I’m an informed voter. I’d like to think I’m a reasonably intelligent one. I take the process seriously. But I’m well aware that I am not a politician, and my views are simply my own—there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that I doubtless don’t know nearly enough about.
So why was I so horribly disappointed that Trump won last night? Because I feel as if our country just handed him a pass that says, “You can degrade people and treat women as sex objects, and it’s okay. We’ll still elect you to the most powerful position in the nation.” (Believe me, I recognize that Bill Clinton is guilty of the very same things—but I wasn’t voting for Bill. I was voting for Hillary.)
I am raising sons in this world, and that’s the last message I want them to get—that it’s okay to talk about “grabbing women’s pussies” and kissing them without consent. In fact, it makes me feel physically ill to think that’s the message we just sent them.
Why? Because I’ve been the victim. Multiple times, in fact. Two times with two different people that I can remember clearly; once that is a series of fragmented memories that I cannot piece together into the whole story. (And I’ve realized that I may never know the whole story on that one. But that is merely one of the three.)
I’m sure some people will question why I would admit that here, so let me explain: I’ve spent my entire life hiding this fact from almost everyone, and it has done me no good. I’m still the same terrified woman who has panic attacks. I still have nightmares. It is only within the past couple of months that I even had a voice in the nightmares. I have spent my life having nightmares where someone was attacking me, and I couldn’t speak or make a sound. The last two times I’ve had nightmares, I’ve been able to make a sound. Not talk, mind you—but at least make a sound. I feel as if subconsciously, I am finally regaining a voice. And it felt really good.
Except now I feel as if we’ve taken a step back, because we’ve just collectively said it’s okay for men to act like the men who mistreated me did.
I don’t know whether Donald Trump physically acted on any of the women who say he did. I do believe in the idea that one is innocent until proven guilty. But I also believe that when enough people say something and with enough witnesses, there’s probably truth there. And even if there isn’t, we’ve all heard the recording of him engaging in “locker-room talk” that, as a woman, makes my skin crawl.
I know some of my friends supported Trump because of his pro-life stance. I can appreciate that, even though I personally support a woman’s right to choose. But I can’t help but speculate that he may have been playing to the crowd on that one. With all we’ve heard him say about appreciating physical perfection in women and tearing down people he doesn’t believe to be physically perfect specimen, you can imagine that it’s hard for me to believe that if Melania Trump (or Marla Maples Trump or Ivana Trump) had carried a baby like my Sam and had a prenatal diagnosis, Donald Trump would’ve welcomed that child into his “perfect” family. Maybe he would have; maybe he would surprise me on that. But I’m suspicious. I fear for my disabled son’s future under a president that apparently places great emphasis on physical perfection; I really do.
So I will respect that Donald Trump holds the office of president for the next four years. I will hope that he surprises me and does good things for the people of our country. But please don’t think I’ll be happy about it. The fact that we elected a man who degrades women in the way he does essentially said to me last night, “Your hurt, your years of panic attacks and nightmares, are inconsequential.”
You know what I can be happy about? My husband. I’ve wanted for a long time for people to know truly how amazing he is, but I couldn’t do so without “outing” myself and my past. So I’m telling you right here, right now. This man, my husband, is amazing. He has stood by me every single step of the way. Held me while I cried. Held me in the aftermath of a panic attack. Respected every single seemingly arbitrary boundary I have set when I just couldn’t cope. Gone to therapy with me while I’ve tried to work through this. Promised to stand beside me for our entire lives, even though he knows full well that in some ways I am broken.
I cannot imagine a better role model for my sons. Instead of telling them to look to our president for an example of what a man should be, I will tell them to look to their father.