Strong Language // A Feminist's Response to Trump's Nomination
Introducing Emily Jessee, who shares with us her response the day after the nomination of President-Elect Donald Trump. Emily is a young feminist creative who uses platforms like photography to portray the harshness and vulnerability of the world around her.
I am used to the tiny hairs on the back of my neck standing up whenever I’m alone.
I am used to being belittled. To feeling small. I am used to being talked over and sometimes even feeling afraid for having an opinion.
But... I tasted it. I fell for it. I fell for all of it.
I envisioned having a female president. I could see it, at the end of the tunnel. It felt within arm’s reach, and I never felt more powerful to be a woman. I was in no way under the assumption that a female being president would be an end to the patriarchy. We have all seen from the point Barack Obama was elected, the blood that has been shed on the streets from black lives, the voices that have attempted to be silenced from the Black Lives Matter movement. No. I spent the last few years watching and empathizing in horror at how blacks are treated in America, all while having a black president in office. I knew the road ahead with a female president would have been tumultuous and difficult and unlike anything we had ever seen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign was stark evidence of that. The ridicule, name-calling, harassment, and outright disrespect were all bundled up every single day in a nice little sexist package.
Clinton not winning the presidency was the incomprehensible patriarchal bow sitting prettily right on top.
I felt shame. I was ashamed of myself for feeling such jubilant excitement and hope for a female to finally lead this country. No matter how flawed some may ridicule her to be, or how qualified she definitely was, I held brute faith without even realizing it that she would win. I felt the hope, that finally, a woman in this country cannot just “maybe” accomplish anything... but she definitely can. I know the idea of that final glass ceiling was too metaphorical for some to swallow - but for many women, who have worked for the last few decades; who have been ridiculed in their offices, sexually harassed by their bosses, or by chance, even outdone by a male counterpart who was less qualified than her for a job... that glass ceiling shattering was a quite literal hope, and desperate necessity.
I then progressed from shame to rage. Fumed by the fact that a male so outwardly less qualified swept the Oval Office from right under her feet. I felt rage at the fact that in 2008, when Hillary and her supporters were told that it was not exactly the “right time” for her to be elected, because we so desperately needed to elect a black president (which was true). To then progress to eight years later: and have her be so obviously more poised, more intelligent, more prepared, and most importantly, more presidential than her desperate excuse of a rival... Only to once again, be quickly taken away from her. Will it ever be the right time for a woman? Will a woman ever be qualified enough? Will a woman ever be perfect enough?
Slowly boiling beneath all of these drastic emotions was the strongest one of all: fear. I am already used to the tiny hairs on the back of my neck standing up whenever I’m alone. I have been a victim of sexual assault. I have been harassed. I have been groped. I have been subjected to many things already as a woman, during a time that many would label as a progressive era of America. In the less than 24 hours since Trump has become President-Elect, I have strongly and inadvertently stated my opinion on the matter. While doing so, I have been harassed. I have been called a bully. I have been called un-American. I have been called aggressive. I have been called narrow-minded. I have been told I’m being too forward or too brash. All of which, by people very close and intertwined within my life. All for unabashedly stating how wronged I felt by this election. I have also already been begged, by others close in my life—to regress. To wonder what might happen to me from the people that disagree with my seemingly aggressive views, when they aren’t a person that’s close to me, and how they could potentially react to me.
My fear escalated. In ways that I hadn’t yet experienced—in ways I was before too privileged to have yet experienced. At first, I wanted to regress. My fear took over me. My words, and the slight they may have, no matter how morally right they may be to me, could potentially be my own demise? But this resistance only lasted for a few seconds.
If my words could have such strength, doesn’t that mean I should push them even further?
If there’s a level of fear with the possible retaliation of what I have to say, doesn’t that give all of the more reason of why I need to publicize them? If not now...when? If change isn’t needed now in our country, when we were so seemingly on the pivotal cusp of it... then when? If there’s too much at stake, as there currently is, then that when seems like an obvious now. Which is why as women, we need to keep pushing. Keep pushing through our fear. We need to keep pushing through the rage and the shame. We need to keep pushing through the glass ceilings—hopefully to heights, where women have still not yet been able to reach.