November 9th, 2016
(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: firstname.lastname@example.org
To grow up a girl in the 1990s was to stew in a particularly rich pot of misogyny and, for some of us, to have one’s sense of the world shaped by the treatment of an uneasy trinity of women: Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, and Monica Lewinsky.
Sure, my experience was exaggerated by living in the Deep South—Georgia went for Bill Clinton in 1992, then promptly gave the country Newt Gingrich—and it’s not like I would have sidestepped sexism if the backlash hadn’t had the women of the Clinton years to concentrate its venom upon. The point is that an entire generation of young women grew up to a steady stream of horribly sexist invective aimed at a series of women who dared to be high-profile, whether they sought their notoriety out or it was thrust upon them.
…Hence I took a quiet, private delight in the notion that not only was it looking likely that we’d be inaugurating our first female president come January, but it would be somebody who—while far from perfect—had faced the sexist modern media equivalent of the stocks. And if everything went right, she’d triumph over a relic who embodied the misogynistic crudity to which she’d so often been subjected. Donald Trump has spent years building himself a brand as the man most likely to call a woman he doesn’t like a fat pig. A month before the election, we all heard him say it for himself: “You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
It would be a pretty piece of historical symmetry, the 1990s coming full circle.
…But as I looked around at the little girls I see popping up on my Facebook and toddling around my neighborhood—as I think of my own future children—I wanted this for them. I want a lot of things for them, of course: longer protected parental leave and paid at that; federally subsidized daycare; public schools that are well-funded and actually integrated; access to health care. But in the meantime, I wanted the symbolic victory of the election of America’s first female president with the added dimension that it could be seen as a renunciation of the way the country talked about Hillary Clinton and indeed all women for so many years. There’s so much work to do, but surely we could start by bagging this.
Instead, America opted for Donald J. Trump.
And the worst part? White women voted for him. Just weeks after he was caught on tape bragging about he could just take what he wanted from a woman’s body. After a lifetime of highly public disgusting talk. White women voted for him.
And now, instead, we are left with a symbol of just how fucked we truly are.