The thing that breaks my heart the most is the women. It’s like a punch in the gut that 42% of women voted for that man. That includes a whopping 53% of white women; the percentage for minority women was less (something like 32% of Hispanic women voted for Trump), but still more than it should have been.
I had really thought that this would be the moment that American women discovered their power. In fact, I had already mostly written a post about this being the turning point for women in politics. But work, family, life in general, and an almost around-the-clock need to check polls in the final days before the election prevented me from finishing and posting it. Now the idea of a women’s movement seems sad and remote, like a dream that you’ve woken up from and can’t quite remember.
This isn’t the way it was supposed to go.
When the 11 year-old video emerged of Donald Trump bragging to Billie Bush about assaulting women because he’s rich and famous, I really thought women had had enough. Coming as it did on the heels of so many other high-profile instances of harassment, sexual assault and rape, it seemed to spawn universal disgust among women. Enough disgust, I thought, to turn into a real movement.
First there had been the Bill Cosby rape accusations. Then there was the YouTube video 10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman. Brock Turner, the Stanford University swimmer who raped a co-ed behind a dumpster and barely got a slap on the wrist, ratcheted up not just the anger but the conversations. When Roger Ailes, CEO of Fox News, was forced to resign amid accusations of sexual harassment from female employees, the anger was palpable. Social media was awash with furious posts and memes such as “My outfit is not an invitation” and “It’s a dress, not a yes.” When the Trump video was leaked and then a dozen women came forward to say that there had not simply been words (“locker room banter, as if that makes it acceptable) but actual physical assaults, it seemed the last straw. #NotOkay was the call to arms —the final statement that we will simply not tolerate this behavior one minute more.
In my now-discarded draft, I wrote that this time the women’s movement seemed to have real promise because of the universality of the cause. Previous iterations such as the Soccer Mom moment didn’t gain purchase because they divided women. Soccer Moms were, by definition suburban mothers of over-scheduled children. They were a subset of women; obviously not all women are mothers, not all mothers live in the suburbs. Some mothers work outside of the home, others don’t. So women didn’t share the same political goals. In fact, the Soccer Mom moment served more to divide women than to unite them.
But surely we could all agree on this one thing: that it is not okay for women to be assaulted, raped, harassed, ogled, abused, molested, or touched without consent; that women’s bodies are not to be viewed as objects for men’s entertainment or gratification. Our daughters should be raised in a world where their bodies are safe, and our sons should be raised to understand that it is their responsibility to control their behavior. All women certainly ought to agree on that.
And so, it was logical to me that women would unite behind the cause of keeping the man who seemed to be the living embodiment of misogyny from becoming President. It was obvious that if there was ever going to be a moment where we would send the message that we were serious about ending the mistreatment of women in this country, this would be it. And so would be born the moment of women discovering their political power: that when we spoke with one voice we could not be ignored. Women would be recognized as a force big enough and determined enough to influence the political process. And we would finally be truly equal with men in politics and in society.
But we awoke Wednesday to an entirely different reality. Forty-two percent of women said that it was okay to grab a woman without her consent. Forty-two percent of women apparently feel that it is okay for a man to kiss a woman, to grope a woman, to walk in on women in their dressing room, to judge a woman’s worth based solely upon his opinion of her appearance, to refer to a woman as “fat,” “ugly” or “pig.”
And not only did women send the message that it is okay for a man to do those things, but they said that the man who does them is the person we want to parade in front of our sons as a role model. We are now telling our daughters that that is behavior they should accept. We have said loud and clear that our culture of misogyny and discrimination and rape is fine. And not just fine, but worthy of being rewarded with the highest honor this country can bestow.
The results of this election hurt, but it’s the women that really broke my heart.