Originally, over the past few weeks, as North America (and, likely, much of the world) was enthralled in the final days of the American presidential election, I thought hopefully towards the future. I, like many, was convinced that Hillary Clinton would be voted into office and we would finally see the months of the toxic vitriol of the presidential campaigns come to a close.
So, this is not the post I planned.
I’ve been following the election closely because, although I’m Canadian, the decisions made in American government impacts much of the world. Being geographically located next door means we Canadians feel the implications close to home.
I believed the polls that indicated Clinton was leading. I believed the media and the economists and analysts and commentators and everyone else who suggested that, although there is significant civil unrest in the States, we could rest assured that it would be Clinton who would be elected on the 8th of November.
Following the election I was going to write about my relief. I planned to acknowledge that Hillary had done a great service for women and feminism by finally shattering that glass ceiling. I was going to reinforce that, despite disagreeing with some of her policy stances, there was much good to be gained by having a female finally in power and that we could cling to that victory and know there was hope for the progress that still needs to come.
This is not the post I planned.
When the tide started to turn on Tuesday night, I was already drifting off to sleep, happy and trusting that Americans wouldn’t dare elect a villain into their highest office. My partner stayed awake and woke me with updates. Needless to say, the sleep was fitful and, by morning, I wasn’t positive the whole ordeal hadn’t simply been a nightmare.
I’m a highly sensitive person. I’m reactive and empathetic and emotional. I know I’m not alone when I admit to spending much of the past few days tearfully reading every follow-up and think piece and explanation for the “how” and the “why” and the “what’s to come.”
I started to think about a new post I should write – one in reaction to every time I’ve felt threatened by something Trump has said or done.
I considered writing about my previous experience with sexual harassment in the workplace. At the same time Trump was recorded boasting about grabbing women in the pussy, 11 years ago, I was experiencing that dynamic first-hand. I thought about writing a post about how a married superior offered me sex in the supply room. I thought about how his male colleagues stood in the background and watched him do this. I thought about the leering and insinuations. I remembered learning that my pigtails were also being referred to as handle bars. I remembered altering my daily route to avoid passing his office.
But this isn’t that post.
I thought maybe I should write about how it feels to be in close proximity to a bully. I could share how much anxiety can come from being a woman who has been blatantly threatened by a man. I could describe the panic you feel when someone is standing in front of you, blocking your exit, and yelling. I tell you how your stomach sinks when the police tell you there’s nothing they can do because “they’re just words.” I can tell you that it’s hard not to blame yourself when you’re told that you should probably keep your door looked if you don’t want him barging into your house. I can tell you that a friendly police officer – even the nicest, most well-intentioned one – doesn’t count for anything if they can’t offer you help, or protection, or even a sense of safety. I could have written a post about how this is what I can only imagine many American people feel like; hands tied and appreciative of goodwill but frustrated that there’s no real course of action to instil any legitimate protection for themselves and their families.
But this isn’t that post either.
Confession: I still haven’t brought myself to listen to Hillary’s concession speech in its entirety. I’ve cried too much over the last few days. I needed a break. I needed to remind myself that there’s a whole world outside of another country’s election.
So, instead, here’s my post for you:
There are wonderful people working and fighting to make the world safe and healthy and inclusive and beautiful.
There are young girls serving their communities.
There are women who make us laugh.
There are creators who combine activism and art.
There are our feminist icons.
And, most importantly, there’s you.
Your fellow Nasty Woman,