Why This Hurts

I have so many blog posts written from the last few weeks. Ones I haven’t posted. I think it’s because I knew they would seem so small in the grand scheme of the election. I didn’t realize how grand that scheme would be.

When I was fresh out of college and getting to know my new coworkers, we threw a summer Olympics party. Drinking games were obviously involved. I flirted with a guy for a good chunk of the night and eventually went up to his room. We talked for a while up there, and then I realized I didn’t want to be there any more, I didn’t want to continue in the direction things were going. So I found a way to leave. And because I was scared and uncomfortable and worried that the guy might have gotten the wrong idea I sought shelter with people I trusted. I got a lot of ridicule for being a tease that night and for months to come. I’m only now starting to understand the wrongness of that.

Later that night, as we figured out sleeping arrangements, I ended up sharing a mattress with one of those men I trusted. The next morning I woke up in a comforting bear hug. I smiled, feeling warm and loved, but knew I wouldn’t fall back asleep. So I finagled my way out from under his embrace and went to watch the bike races while everyone else slept off the copious amounts of alcohol that were consumed. When he woke up he came and apologized to me for spooning me. And you know what? I was heartbroken.

What kind of a world is it that when a man shows such an immense amount of respect to me, apologizing for spooning me without asking my permission first, and I take that as an insult? As a blow to my ego? Instead of the immense sign of respect that it truly was.

Years later, at the end of my first date with Peter, he asked me if he could kiss me. In my head, I laughed a little, and said yes. I laughed because whenever I picture a romantic first kiss with someone there is no talk, no question, we somehow communicate to each other with our eyes (darting wildly at each others’ lips I guess???) that we are both on the same page without speaking a word. But the truth is, that question was so amazing in and of itself. That this man whom I had only really known for a few hours, had so much respect for women that he asked my permission to kiss me. And the thing with him is that I knew even then that if I said no, he would have respected that. He wouldn’t have sulked or been angry or called me a bitch or a tease. He would have said, “Ok, well when can I see you again?” Because he asked that out of true and honest concern and respect.

At a wedding once, years ago, I was very drunk. The last clear memory I have from the wedding is looking down at the steak that was just placed in front of me. I know from texts and from stories later recounted to me that I was very flirtatious with two guys. Either one of them could have easily taken advantage of me, and I wouldn’t have known any better or thought much of it, but neither of them did. I knew both guys well. I am grateful, looking back, that one was respectful when I eventually said no and the other was kind enough to stop things himself. I knew both guys well, and I know they would have treated a complete stranger with the same respect.

I have been lucky to be mostly surrounded by men who were taught to respect women. Who were taught (whether directly or indirectly) what consent meant and entailed. Men who live by those values.

I wish I didn’t feel lucky. I wish this were the norm. I wish we lived in a country where so many men weren’t raised to believe that women were there to please them. I wish we lived in a country where when a woman gets raped people are more upset at the rapist than at what the victim was wearing, drinking, or doing at the time of the incident.

I wish I lived in a country where people were more outraged at the act, than at the measly sentencing and punishment that these men often get.

I wish every time a sex crime happened in this country it wasn’t so easy to accept it as a daily occurrence and move on.

I wish I lived in a country where instead of women being taught to dress prudently, walk in groups, and be careful, men were taught to respect us and treat us as equals.

I wish the men in my life were the norm, the status quo, and the other guys, the ones that see women as objects, were the rare exception.

But what this presidential race has taught us is that we are so far from that country that I wish I lived in. Because Donald Trump won the presidency fair and square. I’ve seen the votes. I’ve seen the electoral split. The presidency is Trump’s, and I’m not mad at him for it.

I’m mad at every single one of you that voted for him. I’m mad and I’m disappointed. Because if one of the women he had groped or raped or even just talked about in the locker room had been your mother, sister, daughter, girlfriend, cousin, niece I bet you would have wanted him jailed (if not worse). But instead, because it wasn’t your mother, sister, daughter, girlfriend, cousin, niece, you voted for him because he wasn’t crooked Hillary.

I’m mad at you because you don’t see that this is sexist, not because a man beat a woman who was far more qualified than him, but because that man was caught on tape talking about sexually assaulting women, and when women came forward you yelled “what convenient timing” and ignored them.

I’m mad at you because by voting for him you told me, all the women in your lives, any friends of yours who are people of color, any friends of yours that are LGBTQ+, basically anyone in your life that isn’t a cis, straight, white male, that your success is more important than our basic rights.

I’m mad because, while I understand that the last 8 years have been frustrating for you, you can’t seem to understand why people are legitimately scared for their lives now.

I’m mad because as a result of your vote, odds are I will have fewer rights in four years than I do now.

I hope you truly think about what you’ve done.

Don’t think of it as a victory against crooked Hillary.

Don’t think of it as a win for your bank account.

I hope, after reading this, you come to understand why I think of your vote a serious indication of a flawed moral compass.

 

 

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