No Common Housewife // How to Raise a Feminist Daughter
Elisha returns to Boshemia to share her anger, strength, and her plans to raise her daughter as a feminist during Trump's presidency.
The night before election day, before I put my daughter to sleep, I read to her from an adorable, feminist book for kids: My First Book of Girl Power. I was nearly giddy as I read through the book with Ryenne three times per her demand request. As I watched her wholeheartedly relishing the themes of strength, bravery, intelligence, and teamwork, I felt a swelling sense of pride: pride in my daughter, in my country, in my ambitious female friends who inspire me every day. I felt an overwhelming gratitude for the suffragettes who came centuries before me; who paved the way for the feminist I'm able to be today. With each emphatic repetition of "brave" and "strong" I heard from my daughter whilst reading that book, my confidence grew stronger that our country held the proper reverence for my sweet daughter's budding strength and independence.
That night, I exchanged texts of excitement with my dear US Boshemians, as we finalised plans for our "dump Trump" celebration. I set out stencils and fabric paint in preparation for the Nasty Woman t-shirts that I would painstakingly handmake, with love, the next day. The night before election day, I went to bed with hope in my heart and dreams for the future in my head.
On my way to the polls, with Nina Simone's "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free" playing through my speakers, a wave of emotion hit me. Suddenly I was aware, as if it were imprinted in my DNA, of all of the trauma that my female ancestors endured. I felt for them and I felt for all of those who still do not truly know how it feels to be free. I was suddenly acutely aware of the misogynistic, xenophobic, racist climate that Donald Trump's campaign had stirred up. I felt in that moment, the full implication of my going to vote for what would have been the first female president. Sure, I had my qualms, and I still miss Bernie like nobody's business, but I felt so sure we would be making history. This was the first of many times that I would weep that day.
After a whirlwind of juggling toddler, handmade tshirts, making time to vote and another day of working from home while I do it all, I was reunited with my Boshemia babes. We were radiant in our optimism, our blind hope, and a misplaced confidence in the conscience of our fellow US citizens. Beaming, we set out on our journey into the DC underground. Two fabulous metro exchanges, filled with a mixture of goofy and brooding selfies and an uber ride later we reached our destination. After the general introductions and compliments on our kick ass tshirts were made, we very quickly found the tone of our night changing drastically. We rode our wave of optimism for a little while as we watched the neck and neck results, thinking still that Hillary must have a chance. We couldn't accept the new reality: the Trump reality. The moment we realised that it was over; that Hillary was unable to get the votes she would need, I instantly thought of my daughter. I thought of her, at home with her father, completely unaware of what any of this means. I couldn't hold back the dewy eyes which followed. It instantly brought to mind Lucy Stone, or rather Lucy Stone's mother who exclaimed, on the day of Lucy's birth, "Oh, dear! I am sorry it is a girl. A woman's life is so hard."
I made the incredibly naïve assumption that this exclamation expressed a feeling that could be left in the past, finally. As the mother of a daughter, I've never understood any exclamation better. Donald Trump is the worst nightmare of the mothers of women. As the horrific reality finally set in, I thought: "Oh my dear, Ryenne, I am so sorry."
I am so sorry. Because I thought that it was finally getting easier to be female in America. I am so sorry. Because even though I am raising her to know that her mind and her capabilities are just as valuable as anyone else's regardless of her gender, there is constantly going to be the smut that is Donald Trump's misogynistic, oppressive vitriol, coming at her from children whose parents want her to be less because they don't know any better. I am sorry. Because I know that, even though I am raising her with the knowledge that her body is her own and that she need not do anything with this body that goes against her beliefs and wishes, that she will grow accustomed to doubting this. She will grow accustomed to thinking that her body is owed to another male, because Donald Trump instills in her male peers, the mentality, that sexual assault is of no consequence. He will instill in her peers that the value of women exists purely in beauty and sex. He has done so already and given a louder voice to those who think this way. I am sorry. Because, as a bisexual/queer woman who was born and bred in guilt and self-loathing, who has spent a lifetime feeling wrong and without place, I can no longer provide a better outcome for my daughter. I can no longer guarantee that if she grows up to find that her sexuality is fluid or queer that she will be able to have the same quality of life that her heteronormative peers will be privileged to enjoy under the Trump Regime. Though I am raising her with the knowledge that humanity is deserving of respect regardless of race, creed, class, nationality, gender, sexuality, or ability of their minds and bodies, I can no longer go forward with the confidence that she won't be met with opposition every step of the way.
Every night when I put my little girl to sleep, I whisper to her the words: "You are loved. You are safe." Today, though I know my daughter will always be loved, I can no longer guarantee her safety. I can no longer guarantee her the freedom to speak her mind, even if it goes against the grain of what her peers have been led to believe is acceptable.I can no longer guarantee her safety around other men while a child rapist, alleged or not, is our president-elect. As if I didn't already have my reasons for shying away from US public schooling, now I refuse to send her. I refuse to let hatred, bigotry, prejudice, sexism, racism, homophobia, ableism, ( need I go on?) to degrade her moral compass. As a first generation American, I refuse to let her forget that the backbone, the foundation, of our country was built on immigration. As a woman, I refuse to let her be led to believe we are any less than any man.
I spent the day after the election, in my home, with my emotions in shambles, my nesting instincts buzzing. I thought to myself that if I can't guarantee comfort for my family outside of my home, I have to concentrate on making my home a beacon of comfort. I thought, "I don't want to continue working so hard to finish my degree, working from home to add to my family's income, working to build a business and a legacy that I can leave to my daughter. If this is my new reality, why try?" But then I realised: "You try because the Trump supporters want you to think you belong nowhere else but your home, that your purpose is only to be a mother, that to do more is an injustice to your family. You know better." I will not bend. I am no common housewife. I am a Nasty Woman. If I haven't been perfectly clear before this moment, let me make it canon: I am raising a feminist. I refuse to raise a racist. I refuse to raise a human that is filled with blind hatred. Either get on board, or GET THE FUCK OUT OF OUR WAY.
PS: To all of my loved ones who voted for Trump, because I know I have a handful, I love you, but I'm deeply disappointed in you. It is the most deplorable of cop outs to say that this is better than a person who "cannot handle classified information." To think that Hillary is the only one, the first one, or the last one in American government to do so is unforgivably naïve. This doesn't make it okay, but Donald Trump's vitriol is UNACCEPTABLE, point blank. I will fight, wherever possible, to change the system that allowed this to happen.