For a little while after the election, I couldn’t put a finger on the horror that overcame me when I realized that some of my friends and family members voted for Trump, that he would be the president of the United States and that people were treating him as “just another candidate,” telling me to “get over it” and not be bitter “because your candidate lost.”
I could not even deal with that shit for the first couple of weeks, so I deleted comments, blocked the ignorance and took a breather. But I’m horrified all over again, thanks to something that happened to me on Christmas eve.
I was getting some last minute food for our meal the next day and had to park a little away from the store, since it was busy. I walked toward the store, past two young men who were looking like they were up to know good in the alley beside the grocery store. They were smoking and leaning up against the building. As a woman who as been both harassed, stalked and raped, a red flag went off in my head. As a woman who made sure to take self-defense after she was assaulted, those red flags were important.
Firstly, the men immediately paid attention to me and stood up from the brick wall. Secondly, one of the men started walking toward the path I would be using. I knew what to do, thanks to my training. I met his eyes, turned towards them and stared at them. I told the guy moving toward me, “I see you.” Nothing else. I wanted him to know I could see him moving toward me, that I was willing to voice my concern, that I was not passive. I moved my bag to my less strong arm, put my hand on my waist and glared. His friend shook his head and motioned that his friend should come back.
“Not that one,” he muttered, quietly but not quietly enough.
That one heard him. The other guy moved away, I walked out of sight and listened. “Not that one. She looked tough. You can tell she’s tough.” I had a second’s hesitation before grabbing my phone, and turning around to face them again.
“That’s right. I’m tough. I’m also calling the cops.” I dialed 911 and stared them down, watched them as they mumbled some shit about ‘not doing anything’ than ran when I started talking to the dispatcher.
I don’t know what those guys had in mind. Probably steal my purse, maybe harm me or rape me. I don’t know. All I know is that if I were less confident in my hulk-like rage and strength, less tall, less tattooed, more feminine, smaller, things might not have ended so well for me that night. If you can call the guys running off and probably not getting caught a good ending.
It’s not a good ending. It’s not a good ending that I had to learn to defend myself like that in the first place, after being assaulted before. It’s not a good deal that I get dick pics, sick comments and propositions daily online and walking down the street. It’s a shit deal that no one takes what I do seriously, but will ask me about what my husband is doing and tell me how lucky I am to have someone so smart and talented as my spouse. I am not lucky. I am well-matched. I am talented, smart and witty. I am good at EVERYTHING I do, including my many underpaid jobs.
This is where the horror creeps in. This is my reality–the fact that men might try to rape or steal from me if I’m on my own. It has always been this way for me. When I went to school by myself at night, I usually had a male friend walk me to my car, not because I can’t handle myself but because I DON’T WANT TO FUCKING HAVE TO. But I do. I deal with it all the time. Do you know what it’s like to weave your keys between your fingers to use as a weapon, just in case? Do you know what it’s like to be groped when you’re just trying to get from point A to point B on a too-full bus? I know these fears. I have lived these realities and worse ones.
And our president-elect is the same type of person that those men who harassed me are. He is the face of rape culture. The many cases brought against him, the ways in which he has spoken to and about women, the way he has shown himself to be in “grab them by the pussy” commentary. He is a pervert. He is a bully, and not just to women. And he is not shy about being this way because he doesn’t have to be.
I won’t be silent on this front. I won’t be told that this is the same as other elections. This is a reiteration that many Americans care more about ignorant talking points than humanity. And I’m horrified that that’s the case. So I will say so.