I am all those code words that some people use to describe a woman who speaks her mind. I’m opinionated. I’m outspoken. I’m mouthy. I’m stubborn and abrasive. In other words, I’m Trump’s worst nightmare — at least as a female person. Being of a certain age (I no longer have blood coming out of my “wherever”), and having worked in a corporate environment for my entire adult life, I can assure you there is a price to pay for being that type of woman, but that’s a subject for another day.
My father raised me to be the woman I am. Not because he was a feminist; he was an old-school, old-world (European immigrant), authoritarian, patriarchal man. He was a good man — a good provider for his family — but he was also the product of his own, at times very difficult, upbringing.
At mealtimes we sat around our hexagonal table in our beautiful, sunny family room, and talked about current events. By the age of 12 or 13, I started really paying attention to what was going on around me. I discovered that I sometimes didn’t agree with my father. I would tell him why, but he didn’t want to hear what I thought. He called it “talking back,” and told me to shut up. He called me stupid (or worse). Sometimes what I said would even earn me a smack on the head.
I don’t recall any specific arguments. Most likely they centered around what we now call “social justice,” a term that, to my knowledge, did not yet exist in 1970s California. I do remember thinking that, when I was a grown-up, I would never let anyone intimidate me into silence. Something like a fire began to burn in me then, and I held onto it through my high school and college years.
My father-in-law once described me as the perfect woman because I would “argue with a rock.” Yes, anyone who knows me will tell you: I never did learn to shut up. I’ll speak up, and I don’t mind arguing. And you know what? I’m proud of that. And you know what else? Eventually my father was, too. He started to listen to me. Instead of putting me down when we disagreed, he called me a “tough shrimp” — petite, but not someone to mess with.
My father admired what I was able to accomplish with my life — working my way through college, having a career (even though it was not one he would have chosen for me), supporting a family.
Now, at mealtimes with my husband (a proud feminist) and our two kids, we talk about current events like my family did when I was growing up. We talk about things such as what it means when people complain that Hillary Clinton doesn’t smile enough. Because of those types of conversations, when a male teacher stopped my fifteen year old daughter in the hall and told her “You’ve got to cheer up,” she was able to reply, “No, I don’t.” I’m proud of that, too.
And so I am dedicating my no-Trump vote to my father (as well as my vote for Hillary Clinton), may he rest in peace. Thanks Dad.