November 13th, 2016
(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: email@example.com
The sensation I felt as the electoral map started bleeding red Tuesday night was deeply familiar to me. It was that sickening, unshakable sensation that begins somewhere behind your navel, subtly shifting your center of gravity as it prepares your body to fight, fly, or freeze. It was the sensation that pools heavily in your core, forcing the air from your lungs and the words from your lips. It was the sensation of watching the inevitable unfold before your eyes, of realizing that you are living through the day you always knew was coming.
I first knew this feeling at 15, when a male classmate cornered me in a dark hallway after school and refused to take no for an answer. I knew it when my classmates, knowing full well of his crime, decided to name him “Biggest Flirt” in our senior yearbook. I knew this feeling last year, when the superintendent of my building forced himself on me in our lobby, whispering that “My husband would never have to know”. I knew it when my landlord responded to this attack with profound indifference, even after several other women in my building had come forward with their own stories of abuse. I even knew it when I launched this blog, and the response from many people in my chosen industry was, “Shut up and be a good little object”.
It was the sensation of being utterly and devastatingly unsurprised.
How could I possibly be surprised by this result, after growing up female in this country? How could I be surprised, when my bodily autonomy, my safety, my human dignity, have lost out time and again to the will and desires of entitled men? I’ve spent my entire life being distrusted, degraded, and shamed for the crime of being a woman who refuses to stay silent. I have seen Trump’s hate and disregard for women in the eyes of countless people throughout my life, from the high school vice principal who sneeringly took down the account of my rape before handing it over to my rapist so that he might better defend himself to the police, to the director who gleefully responded to my anxiety about jumping into the rehearsal of a scene that included my character’s sexual assault with, “We’re just gonna get our rape on!” My own lived experience is proof that this result was probable, and that is exactly why I refused to consider this eventuality until it was thrust upon me; not because I doubted that the worst could happen, but because some part of me knew it was likely to.
That we should not be surprised by the outcome of this election does not negate our grief at being told by half of the American electorate that we are not full people in our own right. That this result was to be expected does not make it any less frightening to move through the world now, knowing that racists, misogynists, and white supremacists are feeling enthusiastically emboldened. We have every right to our anger, our fear, and our sadness that a known sexual predator who has openly encouraged racism and xenophobia is headed for the White House.