I am a woman, and today I am scared

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As I reflect on this historic and shocking election result, I look at this photo and remember more peaceful times in my life. Even though I’m still afraid, this photo is comforting. 

This blog post is a complete stream of consciousness. Today, like millions of people all over the world, I woke up from what I hoped was a nightmare. But it’s our reality now: Donald Trump has been elected President of the United States, and in nearly a landslide at that.

I woke to dark clouds and rain in New Jersey. It fits with my emotions today. Today, I have reflected. I have cried. I have searched within myself for my thoughts on this election and the results. I have numerous emotions today. Among them are devastation, fury, and disbelief. But the one I am having the most difficulty with is fear. And that is the purpose of this blog post.

I am afraid for, to put it broadly, the world. Yes, I’m terrified for the environment. For Muslim-American families having conversations about not wearing a hijab in public because they are afraid for their safety. I’m terrified for African-Americans who not only are disproportionately targeted by the police, but may deal with nationwide disastrous and racist “stop-and-frisk” policies under a Trump presidency. I’m terrified for the LGBTQ community because our Vice President, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, signed the “religious freedom” bill in his state, which allowed for businesses to discriminate against groups they don’t like, specifically anyone identifying as LGBTQ. And even though I am heartbroken beyond explanation for all of these groups, most of all, for personal reasons, I am terrified most of all for women. And I am now terrified as a woman for the first time in my life.

I am terrified for many reasons. Yes, it’s partly because Donald Trump said he would punish women for having abortions. Yes, it’s because he has threatened to appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices who would not only be pro-life, but who would overturn Roe v. Wade, which gave women the right to choose to have an abortion. And yes, I’m also horrified that Vice President Mike Pence has pushed for legislation that would force women to pay for funerals of not only aborted fetuses, but for miscarriages. But even though these are reasons to be scared as a woman, it’s beyond this. I’m terrified because of the words Donald Trump has said, and memories throughout my life he has brought to the surface. For the first time, I am reflecting on several memories I have never dwelled on before.

Donald Trump, our elected President, has been accused of sexual assault by more than a dozen individuals. The numerous allegations range from unwanted kisses and touching to rape of not only women, but of girls, minors. The now infamous Access Hollywood tape is a moment in time. Donald Trump said that not only does he grab women “by the pussy,” but he also said, “I don’t even wait.” What doesn’t he wait for? Consent. Donald Trump said, on tape, that he sexually assaults women. The women who came forward after the tape’s release verified his own admission.

As if there couldn’t be more damning evidence of Trump’s treatment of women, he has been documented verbally demeaning women. In my opinion, the most egregious example is his treatment of Miss Universe pageant winner Alicia Machado. Trump publically shamed her for her appearance, calling her “Miss Piggy,” “an eating machine,” and brought press to film her exercising after he put her on a weight loss plan. Machado suffered from anorexia and bulimia for five years due to this harassment.

With each story released of Trump’s treatment of women, I started to look within. Of course I was disgusted and angry. But for some reason, Trump’s blatant sexism made me think back to memories I’d almost forgotten. I want to express that I am not, in any way, equating my experiences to any of these women, or to anyone else’s personal story. But I have read other women’s stories, and I remembered events I’d almost forgotten occurred throughout my life.

I remember in fourth grade, when a boy in my class was standing behind me and stroked my hair. I turned around, obviously a bit creeped out. He just smiled at me.

I remember in eighth grade being called “ugly” by a boy I had a crush on.

I remember freshman year of college receiving Facebook messages from multiple strangers telling me they had seen me around campus and wanted to hang out with me because I was cute.

In the spring of my freshman year, I had a date to watch a movie with a guy in his fraternity’s apartment. I asked a mutual friend, who was in that fraternity, where the apartment building was. My date found out I had done this and shamed me for asking someone else where the building was. He hinted that he didn’t want me to tell people where I would be that night. He told me that if people knew where I was going, they would start rumors about me and would spread lies about what I was doing. Nothing happened when I watched the movie with him. But after that, he messaged me on Facebook with unwanted and pushy sexual advances. I never hung out with him again.

On Halloween weekend my first year out of college, I went to a bar with a friend. Two guys approached us, and we all started talking for a while. One of the guys seemed interested in me and was friendly. I went to use the bathroom, and immediately after I returned, when I wasn’t looking at him, he grabbed my butt completely out of nowhere. I had met him less than an hour ago. I looked over at him and he smiled at me.

Later that same year, I went out dancing with a group of friends. A male acquaintance was dancing with me, and he started trying to feel me up and move his hands between my legs. I stopped him and he became more pushy. He told me that he knew I “wanted it,” and said that I needed to have sex with him. I kept telling him he was mistaken and that I wouldn’t. The last thing he said before I grabbed my close friend and ran off was, “At least let’s go out to my car and I can lick your pussy.”

About a year later, I was in a relationship. My boyfriend wasn’t in town, and I went out with a female friend. A man came up and sat down next to me at the bar. At first he was harmless. But not much later, he told me I should come home with him. I said, “I have a boyfriend.” He asked, “Well where is your boyfriend?” I told him he was out of town and he immediately responded, “He doesn’t have to know.” I refused his request, but that didn’t stop him. He then asked for a kiss. I refused, but that apparently wasn’t good enough. He turned it into a game. He said he would pay me to kiss him. I kept refusing, but he didn’t stop. He jumped off his bar stool and ran to find his friends to ask for money. He came back, and offered me five dollars, ten dollars, fifty dollars, and continued to raise the amount of money he’d give me to kiss him. No matter how many times I said no, he didn’t stop. His friends were nearby and amused by the situation, but didn’t do much to intervene. His friends apologized after he finally gave up, saying that he was just very drunk.

About two years ago, on yet another Halloween night, I was out watching a band with a friend. Out of nowhere, an elderly man (I would venture to say he was at least 70 years old) came up behind me, wrapped his arms around me, put his face and body against mine and said, “You are so gorgeous.” I wriggled out of his grasp and ran off with my friend.

My most recent memory is from only about two weeks ago, and it still rattles me. My mom, two sisters, and I traveled into the New York Penn Station on the train. When we arrived, it was insanely crowded, and I felt someone bash into me from behind, and it felt deliberate. While discussing where we needed to go, the man who bashed into me came up from behind me and said, “Where are you trying to go?” Taken aback (he was visibly drunk and/or high), I gave him a look (I have an expressive face, and this time it got me in trouble), turned away, and kept walking. Apparently this set him off. He went on to follow my family and me, circling around yelling at me. “Ugly bitch. Fucking ugly bitch. You fucking ugly bitch. You ugly bitch. Ugly bitch.” He spit every word at me slowly and with hateful venom I’ve never experienced before from a stranger.  I tried to ignore him as my family and I kept walking. He followed us up a flight of stairs, inches away from my face saying, “Ugly bitch, you ugly bitch.” I felt and saw him out of the corner of my eye as he made a swipe at my ponytail. When we reached the top of the stairs and kept walking he circled over to my mom, saying, “You raised this coward?” The last thing he said to me before my family and I found our exit out of the train station and raced away was “Faggot.” After we were away from him one of my sisters said he had been trying to trip me while I was walking up the flight of stairs.

Why am I telling any of these stories? Why am I remembering them now? It’s because our newly elected President of the United States reminds me of these men. None of these men waited for consent, and Donald Trump has admitted that he doesn’t, either. Throughout his entire life as a celebrity, he has spewed hatred towards women. He and his supporters have called his admissions of sexually assaulting women “locker room talk,” which means that, according to them, not only are his words acceptable in private conversations, but they believe these are words you’ll hear ordinary men all over the country saying. After the election results and reflecting on my own experiences, I have to just hope this isn’t true.

I could discuss why I think Hillary Clinton lost and who I blame, but that’s for another post. Today I am reflecting on my fear. My fear of being a woman in this country. Donald Trump has set an example that not only can you get away with sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape, without consequences, but you can become President of the United States despite the country being fully aware of it. And win in a landslide. Last night, we elected a President who has most likely sexually assaulted multiple women, and may have raped both women and girls. We have elected someone who does not respect half of this country based solely on their gender. Not only does he not respect them, but he has violated them, and these human beings have been psychologically damaged because of his actions. Donald Trump’s supporters have vocalized their dismissal of these allegations, and some have said that even if the allegations are true, that doesn’t change their minds about Trump. Not only is our newly elected leader a possible rapist, but millions of his supporters don’t seem to care. And that terrifies me. What also terrifies me? At least one of the men in this story is a Trump supporter, and one has since had a child.

I don’t have any solutions right now. I don’t know what to do to stop this country from moving forward.  I’m just as lost as the rest of you. All I know is that I am a woman, and for the first time in my recollection, I am afraid to be a woman. I am afraid for our country. I am afraid for our world. But right now, today, I am afraid for our women.

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Our country is in a dark place. All I can do today is look at photos of more hopeful times, when I was at peace.

 

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8 thoughts on “I am a woman, and today I am scared

  1. i’m sorry that men treated you like that, and that there are men who have zero respect for women at all , no female of any age should ever be harassed or worse , i don’t know what this means for women in the US or the minorities , all of them male and female and all points in between . there are many here in Canada who are scared for the US , hopefully he can be impeached and same with the vp .

  2. First off, great blog post. I’m so glad you’re writing again as I’ve missed your blogs.

    Secondly, I’m very sorry you had to endure all those horrible behaviors from men. We’re not all like that, as I’m sure you know, but it’s the bad apples that everyone remembers.

    Thirdly, I’m also very afraid of what the future holds. How this man was elected President absolutely befuddles me.

    We’re going to be okay, though, Becky. I promise.

  3. I echo the sentiment above, that it’s nice to see you blogging again, even if the situation that has you blogging is what it is.

    Your fear is understandable, and I’m so sorry Rebecca. I refuse to let a bully leave me defeated and I will do my best to rise to the occasion, for you and all others that Trump and the Republican party has threatened to make suffer under their rule.

  4. Unsurprisingly, most of the blog posts that raise real fears about the result are from women. Unsurprisingly, white men (most, not all) say, ‘it will be all right’. Sure, for you maybe.
    I was reminded of the ‘locker room banter’ comment when I read about the Harvard football ‘scouting’ story. Great. Harvard tried to stop disgusting misogyny and America elects a president that encourages it.
    Hope you are well, apart from the election result.

  5. Although I’m a white male, I grieve with you. I grieve for women. I grieve with all my LGBT friends. I grieve for myself and those like me too, for I have a disability and we all know what The Donald thinks of people with disabilities. I grieve for the vast majority of Muslims who are peaceful people and for people of all non-Christian faiths. I grieve for people of color and other non-white ethnic backgrounds.

    I’m scared. You’d have to be crazy not to be scared. I don’t know how nearly 60 million people could vote for this monster. I can only imagine those people either don’t have a heart or don’t have much of a conscience.

  6. The election made me think back to the recent UK vote to leave the European Union. I and many others were intensely down-hearted at this, and what it might mean – a potential lurch towards policies that were even more right wing, the withdrawal of freedoms we thought we had won for the long term, the imposition of religious sensibilities on a secular society, etc., etc. I think the ‘Brexit’ vote was a pernicious influence on the US election. If only people in America could have seen the detrimental effect it is already having here! But our despair pales into insignificance against what many US citizens must be feeling right now. I feel for you.

  7. A very honest, transparent and sincere post Rebecca. I am sincerely sorry that you have had so many negative experiences with men. It is shameful and disrespectful.

    Society is changing and it is not for the better. When I was young boy I was taught to show respect and dignity to women, but it just does not happen much anymore.

    Hoping you will encounter some positive male figures in the future to give the dignity and respect you deserve.

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