I am very close to switching from Facebook to Instagram. In curating my Facebook feed so I don’t have to see anyone’s religious or political views, I’ve pretty much cut out every person I know and only see a steady stream of cute rolling pandas and gorgeous waterfalls. While I can never get my fill of kittens and sunsets, I am no longer interested in looking at Facebook and often find days have gone by without me even thinking about looking at it.
So last night I was scrolling down the abysmal landscape of my Facebook feed glancing at picture after picture of the beautiful autumn leaves, even though I’d spent my afternoon running through the stunning leaves in an apple orchard, when I happened upon a horrendous pro-Trump/anti-Hilary post that had been liked by a dear friend.
Now anyone who knows me knows I am a die-hard Hilary super fan, and how this little tidbit snuck onto my cuddly page of love is anyone’s guess, but it stopped me in my tracks. How could my dear friend, my smart loving caring dear friend be voting for Trump? Some of my family and friends are Republican and many of my family members are politically conservative Mormons. Mormons don’t need a social safety net because they have a religious one. They think liberal ideals are stupid and wrong, just like I think Republican ideals are stupid and wrong (the parts about mixing religion and government and taking away rights from women and people of different races and religions and income levels).
I think progress should march forward into the gorgeous melting pot of multiculturalism and technology; they want people to look, act, and think the same way they do. They long for the Andy Griffith era, an era of fantasy where everyone is white and nice and there’s no crime, and the world seemed simpler, even though this time never existed in reality–it exists in their head.
We have a fundamental difference, chasms that can’t be bridged.
So what to do with my dear friend, whom I adore, who is the exact opposite of Trump: kind, compassionate, humble, caring, endlessly generous, funny and smart.
The post said something like “I care more about what Hilary did than what Trump said.” I’m not sure what my dear friend thinks “Hilary did”, but now I have a problem with how we can ever connect again. How do you support someone who boasts about sexually assaulting women?
As a woman who has been sexually assaulted many times, who has had her “pussy grabbed” on subways, buses, in crowds at concerts or on the dance floor, just randomly by strange sick men who barely glanced at me, I am at a loss for words. I got really good at elbowing men in the face as hard as possible without glancing at them in return–a horrible exchange and one that left me feeling shocked, depressed and angry.
At first I thought it was me and wondered what was wrong with me that made men feel they could treat me like this. At twelve, my parents left me in a hair salon to get my hair done while they went to brunch. The hairdresser seemed very nice and offered me wine and then told me to stand up and bend over to blow dry my hair while he rubbed his hard penis against my backside. I was frozen. I was twelve. And that’s one of the least horrendous stories, I won’t even go into my high school band teacher, my lascivious drunk uncles, guys I misjudged and went on dates with…
Things like this happened over and over to me and after getting so depressed I looked into entering a mental health center for an extended stay, I finally decided this was bullshit. I wasn’t the one doing anything wrong—the random men were. I discovered many other girls and women who had the same experiences and were just as disturbed about it. I got mad and I hated men as a whole gender.
It took a long time to learn to protect myself and to heal from my experiences. I eventually learned that the gender of the predator doesn’t matter, there are good men and bad men.
I’m raising one of them now and I do everything I can to protect him from a culture that says “boys will be boys.” Not my boy. He has learned from day one how to treat others respectfully, how to speak kindly and to never, ever touch someone else’s body, or let anyone touch his, without his permission. I have a daughter as well, and I’m fiercely protective of both of them and I’m teaching them to fight back against the unacceptable.
So what to do with my dear friend? How can support be given to someone who thinks it’s awesome to “grab pussies” and assault women without their permission? Where is the disconnect?
I’m thinking about this today as I get ready for the Hilary fundraiser I am attending tonight with my son and daughter, my daughter wearing a tshirt with the word “FEMINIST” emblazoned across it. “What’s a feminist?” my son asked. I told him it’s someone who cares about the rights of women and wants them to be treated fairly. He said he wanted a tshirt too. I am endlessly delighted by their innate passion for social justice and I applaud and support it.
My children are only ten and twelve. I protect them from the horrors of the world and I don’t let them watch the news. My political daughter really wanted to watch the last debate, but I couldn’t allow it since one of the candidates thinks nothing of degrading and humiliating women. I told the kids that Trump had said something so low and despicable, they would not be allowed to watch him again.
They can watch Hilary all day long–I know everything she says will be empowering to women and all races and religions.
And I don’t want my kids to know, yet, that there are people out there who think nothing of “grabbing” the genitals of other people, and even worse, this monster is now being supported into a position of leadership by people we know. I have to assume that other Republican friends and family are supporting Trump, although Trump isn’t Republican or conservative. He holds none of the typical ideals of Republicanism, like family values. I also have many loved ones who are die-hard Republicans but refuse to support such a sleazy person and they are as in shock as everyone else that Trump has any supporters at all.
Usually with my family and friends, we focus on the things we love about each other: our love of dance parties, compassion and caring and laughing till our stomachs hurt. I would do anything for my dear friends, always have, always will.
But I don’t understand and it hurts me to my core.
It’s really not about my dear one, it’s more about how it makes me feel that people support the predators, the abusers, the ones out to harm others. Supporters say Trump’s words are just words and they don’t mean anything. I beg to differ—I think words are incredibly powerful—the Brothers Karamazov changed the entire direction of my life because it finally put my inarticulate thoughts into words and brought me clarity that my life would be lived in compassion for others and standing up for the underdog.
So the most important thing I can is protect my own children from abusive people including Trump and his supporters, buy my son his “feminist” shirt, and head to our Hilary fundraiser tonight to do everything in our power to make sure our next President is a compassionate person who would never in a million years “grab the pussy” or penis or any other part of a stranger’s genitals.
And I now choose to live my life in peaceful love and laughter, hoping I never have to elbow anyone in the face again.