Dear Mr. President-elect Trump,
Let’s just get right to it, shall we?
This is excruciating. It goes beyond the gloat versus defeat that follows an election. This is atomic. Genetic. Every abuse now exists as valid and acceptable. My sister, and the tween who burst into tears tonight who is a year younger than my sister, will not get to envision a new world where they can be and do anything they dream. They will be nurtured by a culture that, evidently, thrives off hate and fear of that which is ‘other.’ In this world, we are other. It is excruciating. The headlines from the aftermath of that disastrous vote in the UK — the public harassments, the death threats, the terror — flash through my mind constantly. I don’t want to go to sleep because then I’ll have to wake up and remember all over again that this is real. A constant refrain in my mind and out of the mouths of strangers who see the buttons on my lapel and know the heartbreak exploding beneath. Instead of hijabs, it’s womanhood. Instead of refugees, it’s immigrant families. No, no, it’s far more. Stronger together: It’s hijabs and womanhood and refugees and immigrant families and anyone who does not exactly identify with the cast of Duck Dynasty or The Real Housewives (will your immigrant wife star in The Real Housewives of The White House? Or will you have her deported before the show starts filming?). It’s the core of what created this country, under attack. It’s the knowledge that I don’t matter. That only your conceit and fear-mongering matter. Views and clicks and virality matter more than our humanity. This is beyond description. Beyond explanation.
And we — not you, because you are and will forever be distinctly separate from any meaningful and good-natured definition of we — will gobble up every single thing that proves our pain exists, and every single thing that horrifies us and scares us and is A Sign Of The Times. The old sandwich man advertising The End Is Near, handing out leaflets about the apocalypse outside the subway; the guy we’d see in movies and laugh at, he’s dusting off that billboard. Instead of the apocalypse, his leaflets are filled with the tears and pain of millions of people who tried so hard to show their pain came from a legitimate terror. A terror you created. Fostered. Nurtured. It looks like he’s gearing up for his own TV channel, the news people said. You likely nodded in agreement, slightly irritated they figured you out. Now the world is your own TV channel, and you want to syndicate The Big Bang Theory and Antiques Roadshow, but so that the shows air in alternating order. Sheldon does a goof followed immediately by This bench is 300 years old and worth $15,000–17,000, so please stop farting on it.
The protest votes, that’s what they’ll call them. We didn’t think it’d actually happen, they said/will say. The Dow plummets 800 points before the election is even called. You know what that means, right, you big finance buffoon? I alone will make America’s Great Recession again. Did you actually read Mein Kampf or did you just have an aide highlight the ‘relevant’ parts in a To Do List format? How much have you checked off so far? A vice president who believes gay people should be electrocuted. Who wants women to pay for burial services for terminated pregnancies. A Senate that will side with this man; a Supreme Court that will do his bidding. You picked that guy, in the event that you get thrown in jail before you can decimate our country with your I alone. Can a president give himself a presidential pardon? This is not hyperbole. We soaked up hyperbole, shucked it off once we’d squeezed all the thrill of a fear that seemed so far away out of it. Our underestimating and talking over one another let it sneak up on us, well-hidden in the guise of it won’t actually happen. Well, here we are. You, the deranged man in the gold tower who appealed to the deranged people in midwestern shacks. We, the disenfranchised, the victims of crimes not-yet-but-will-soon-be-committed. Here we are, ready to start our swim through a tunnel of shit that will only get worse.
We worked so hard, and we brought this upon ourselves. The rigged polls. The emails. The woman who spent her life working for us, despite the heavy criticism, who we decided was not worth our time. The woman you endorsed, before you endorsed yourself and even a few times after. The woman you’ll call up late at night and ask How the fuck do I do this?? Your fear, your rage, your xenophobia will ensure that she will not answer the phone. At least, not the first few times. But her compassion, her experience, and her Do all the good you can will move her to pick up the phone, eventually. You will cry under the stress of a job you are not fit to hold. I will soak up those tears, hoping to counteract the deep pit your poisonous screeds have seared into my soul. Hoping to turn it into something beautiful, despite the havoc your people will try to wreak.
Do not assume you understand this pain; this all-encompassing grief, horror, rage, shock, and heartbreak all rolled into one and amplified a thousand times under the critical microscope of your masculinity. You have never felt pain. You have only ever been told — taught — that you feel pain. When women have the chance to be as autonomous as you, you writhe with an invented ache until your petulance power-washes away our strength to fight for ourselves. Not yet, we guess, maybe soon, we hope. When we just want to pee in a bathroom with the little image that looks like how we feel, you drop to your knees and stab yourself in the gut with an invisible knife, then scream and scream about all of the nonexistent blood you claim we’ve drawn from you. We only ever asked to be treated equally, and for that, you shuck us off. We have asked. For centuries, before this place became a country, we asked. You stomped your big boy feet and plugged your big boy ears until our voices went hoarse. We switched tactics. You screamed louder. We did everything we could to fight for ourselves while remaining generous and giving. You shackled our fight and took and took, sucking our will to believe in ourselves like meat from a rotten crab leg. We have asked, politely. You have rejected us, abusively.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
You do not know what it feels like to think maybe, now, younger versions of yourself will never think I can’t do that, only boys get to do it, and to see things so big and shimmering and full of possibility, only for it to be ripped away by your obsession with fear. By your apathy. By your belief that a third party is the true lesser of two evils. By your insolent indignation that your ego is more important than the health, autonomy, and liberty of a whole spectrum of people. That your need to be edgy has more value than the world’s need to not be ripped apart by nuclear weapons. Your asinine insistence that your need to feel righteous is more urgent a cause than our need for what is right. You have no idea how this feels. But, thanks to yourself and your aforementioned attributes, you have assured all of us that you will feel it. Because, baby, we’re taking you down with us.