First, I need to say that, though I’m writing about the President of the United States, this is not a political post. I know many people who voted for our current president. I did not. I love the friends and family who did vote for him and respect their right to vote for whomever they choose. Freedom to choose our leaders is at the heart of our democracy. If I don’t like policies implemented by an administration or Congress, it’s my responsibility as a citizen to work to change those policies. Part of what it means to live in a democracy is occasionally getting a leader who sees government very differently from you. This I accept.
What I’m finding it hard to accept is the fact that the American people elected an admitted sexual abuser to be president. Initially dumbfounded that such a thing could happen in 21st century America, I thought I would come to adjust to the reality…then work to elect someone else.
I’ve now come to realize that, try though I might, I can’t file away the president’s abhorrent treatment of women in some back corner of my brain and forget about it. Every day I wake up the citizen of a country whose leader sees half our country’s population as less than fully human is a day I feel less than human. Bit by bit, I feel my human dignity being whittled away.
I am blessed beyond measure to be married to a man who proudly calls himself a feminist and who admits that he’s still growing into what that means. There are times when he supports me more than I support myself. I have been able to grow into the strong woman I am because of his love, support, and–on occasion–challenge.
I’m also blessed to have male friends who get at least a little of what it means to be a woman in the United States today. Their presence and support–and their willingness to deal with their own male privilege– gives me hope.
Outside of these loving and supportive men, I confess that I’m apprehensive. Is the reason a sexual predator was elected president because people in our country really do see women as less than men? When people look at me, do they see someone who’s less than a man?
I suspect the vast majority of people with whom I come in contact do see me as equal to men…but I don’t know that. I don’t know for sure that when someone looks at me they see a fully capable human being who just happens to be a woman.
I recently watched the OJ Simpson movie on Netflix. The most painful episode for me was titled “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.” The episode dealt with the blatant sexism Marcia Clark had to deal with every second of every day of the trial….from comments about her clothes and hair, to belittling her need to care for her children, to accusations of “bitchiness”–and all of it done through the national media. (I just googled “pictures Marcia Clark.” Eight of the first nine entries referred to “nude” or “topless” photos of Clark.)
No one commented on Robert Shapiro’s smugness, or Bob Kardashian’s bad haircut, or any of the clothing worn by any of the defense attorneys. The men’s suits and haircuts would had to have been truly atrocious for anyone to notice. And smugness or aggressiveness–had it been noticed at all–would simply have been called characteristics of a good attorney had they been observed in the men.
Hear me well. I am not in this post, speaking for all women. I am only speaking my own truth, and it is this: Each day our president is not held accountable for his abuse of women is a day that I have to work harder at believing in my own true worth. I do believe in my own dignity. I’ve done too much healing work in my life not to. All I’m saying is that it’s taking a lot more work these days to believe that being a woman is a good thing.