Let Me Just Have My Anger This Week
America is hurting this week, and I am responding with anger.
I know I’m not supposed to be angry because I’m a woman and we’re expected to serve as tender objects offering comfort and wisdom to others, but this week, I don’t care. I can’t be full of grace today, and tomorrow’s not looking great, either. Here’s to hoping that next week I’ll feel a little less incensed about all this, but for now, please join me in my efforts to normalize lady rage.
A petulant child will soon occupy the White House, and will certainly offend all leadership he interacts with. That’s his nature. Among his myriad sins, as a hearing impaired person I am personally grievanced by his offensive behavior toward, and disregard for, deaf actress/national treasure Marlee Matlin on the set of The Apprentice. In the end, not enough people cared about his treatment of her, or any woman. I see his mockery of the disabled as a personal affront, and those who voted for him must not care about those he has blasted. And I’m hurt on a policy level, too; something tells me my hearing aids just got a lot further away from being covered by American health insurance.
Resist the urge to tell me it will be okay, and don’t try to mitigate my fears. This is a shock and a terrible outcome, so let’s just be pissed off about it together — even if just for a little while.
Just before the polls closed in my current state of Ohio on Tuesday, I drafted a post about Election Night. It was short, but it was about how thrilled I was about the election of the first woman president in America. It had a couple jokes about this being “a roller coaster of a week,” between the Cubs winning the World Series, Portland winning the world roller derby championship, and now, Hillary Clinton winning the presidency. I wrote about how proud I was of this moment in history, in which our society finally understood that women are people. “It’s a beautiful day,” I wrote. Then I made a joke about stress-eating nachos from Qdoba on Election Night, which is a half truth in that I did eat most of a plate of nachos, but a lie in that it was not, in fact, anxiety-induced. Those were some presumptuous celebratory nachos, because I thought we had this thing in the bag.
Many a think piece was written about what a Trump presidency would look like and I didn’t click on or read a single one. I joked about being worried about him winning, but from July on, I never thought for a second that it would actually happen. It seemed polite, or at least non-smug, to act like I still thought there was a chance we could lose. But I never really did.
Tuesday night, I confidently drafted that open letter, which I was going to publish Wednesday morning. Instead of that letter, I am writing this raw and, in all likelihood, slightly unhinged missive. This week is a nightmare and a garbage fire and yet we have to live with that.
In the interest of self-care and maybe self-preservation, I feel I should tell you that if you are sad this week but looking for comfort and solace, this is not that space. Turn off social media and go get a massage.
On the other hand, if you’re miserable and looking for company, then let’s bitch, baby.
I went to bed at 11 Tuesday night just after being let down by my home state but before Michigan and Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and the Florida panhandle and everything else. I went to bed believing this was far from over.
Hours later, I woke up to two texts: an unhappy series of emoji from my boss in California, and an “ugh” from a friend. I convinced myself that these were ambiguous enough that they could suggest it had maybe just been too narrow a victory for Clinton. I sat in the dark for a few minutes, wondering if these were my last before knowing that Donald Trump would be the 45th president. Once I’d convinced myself that this could not possibly be the case, I opened my laptop.
It was 6 a.m. and I sobbed.
Sorrow gave way to anger in quick succession, and here in anger, I remain. Didn’t you know, though? Women are not people, women are objects. Women are so hated that a giant orange pile of cheese dust is preferable and now our first black president will hand over the White House to an actual white supremacist.
I am enraged; I am hurt. I want to channel this into something good like Stephen Colbert said to do, but this week, I cannot. Goodbye, Obamacare; farewell, Roe v. Wade. A friend on Facebook suggested we all re-up our IUDs now while we still can, because even though they last for five years, who knows if my new one will be covered come 2018?
Clinton represented a lot of things to a lot of people, but I saw so much of myself in her; so much of my mom and my friends and other women I look up to and respect. This is a slap in the face and a million steps backward. I have been keeping it together but let me tell you what you already know, which is that it is more than possible to be an extremely positive, active, even prolific person and to also suffer from depression. I am proof and maybe you are, too. This does not help.
Hillary Clinton was supposed to win Tuesday night. Every podcast I let soak into my faulty ears and weary brain told me so, and I believed them because I wanted to and I had to. I woke up on Election Day to go vote when the polls first opened at 6:30 and texted with my best friend in Boston about how excited we were for the first woman president. She was jumping up and down and trying to calm herself before going to the polls; I was busy taking a pantsuit selfie with my aunt.
It just feels so personal, like this was taken away from me. I feel like my mom got fired and my grandma died and my CEO asked if I’d be willing to take a pay cut so we could afford to hire another straight white dude on staff. This thing was supposed to be mine. Was this not supposed to be yours, too?
If you’re reading The Establishment, I suppose I’m making the assumption that you must be With Her or at the very least, not With Him. If not, thanks for reading, but I am so furious with anyone who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton: the fools with their protest votes; the white conservatives in my rural home county; the Dems who just weren’t that excited for Hillary. Check your privilege because this election was bigger than you. White people aren’t going to be the ones paying for this. And if you just didn’t vote, never, ever tell me.
And here I am again, preaching to the choir, which is all I’ve been doing for months. I willfully built myself a bubble, an echo chamber of liberals, and today I am blindsided by the blunt reminder that hate and racism and sexism are alive and well in America. They say not to let us grow more divided but I want nothing to do with the other side if that’s what it represents. Change takes time but we have waited for so very much time. Yet even children know that Donald Trump is a bully, and today the bully won.
My dad listened to Leonard Cohen, who has just passed away, all week when Bush won in 2004 and he boycotted NPR for six months. What will my coping strategy be? I’ve already failed at ignoring Twitter. The same podcasts that soothed and lured me into a false sense of security this year are still updating their feeds as we speak. This week, I choose to respond with anger-fueled fervent action. Plus, I’ll be setting up a flexible spending account this year to help cover the cost of my next set of hearing aids, since my current pair is due to be replaced next year.
If I can carry over one thing from my original draft to you, it’s this: I’m still proud of the men in my life who are aware of their privilege as straight, white, cisgender American dudes and I’m grateful to the women around them and me. My brother and our three younger cousins are all incredible feminists, and I’m thankful for our collectively awesome parents who raised us all. There is hope for my two small nieces yet.
I’m thankful for my sister-in-law, who lovingly embroidered “Nasty Woman” onto some hoop art for me as a recent gift; I’m thankful for my aunt, who unflinchingly answers the women’s health questions I never got around to asking my mom; I’m thankful for my stepmom, who talked me through the emotional aftermath of filing a sexual harassment complaint. And I’m thankful for my mom, who died nine years ago this week, but not before showing me how to be an active participant in democracy. She wrote letters too, once, to women in swing states in 2004.
This week I will let myself be angry and petty and mean. I will swear a lot and respond to emails and eat sad salads for lunch and buy more hearing aid batteries and text my friends back. I will go to work and then the gym and then I will sleep for 12 hours straight. Next week I will go back to pushing down negative thoughts like I always do, and I will reassess.
But for now, let me have this moment of just being mad.
Lead image: Pixabay