Dear Trump Supporters,
First, let me congratulate you. Electing Donald Trump to the highest office in the country is truly an impressive feat.
Second, let me apologize. Clearly, I have not been listening. I understand you are upset, I’m upset too. I’m trying to prepare myself to hear what you have to say and better understand the actions you took on Tuesday. This country will have to learn to work together.
I don’t believe that you are all actively racist or misogynistic, but I need you to take a moment and reflect on why it might appear that way. I need to tell you why, as a woman, this election felt like an intimate and personal blow.
Trump’s positions horrify me on many levels. As a student of public policy, I am genuinely fearful of what he will do to our country’s social fabric and economic well-being. But let’s be real, that’s not what left me intermittently sobbing through Wednesday.
I am a strong, intelligent woman.
And yet, for as long as I can remember, I have received less respect for my thoughts and actions than my male counterparts. I’ve been in meetings where my words are ignored, where my gaze will not be met while instead I’m asked to take notes. I’ve had supervisors who call their young, female employees “bossy” for doing their job. I’ve had a manager tell me to my face that he didn’t realize I was smart until I had spent 6 months proving it. I think that Lindy West said it best in her NY Times column, “I don’t even know what it feels like to be taken seriously — not fully, not in that whole, unequivocal, confident way that’s native to handshakes between men.”
So, watching Hillary remain poised and graceful as she conceded a role for which she was indisputably the most qualified to a man who has never held public office, who has failed in the world of business, who clearly is unable to prepare for even the most basic of political tasks, felt undeniably personal.
As painful and frightening as his inexperience is, that is not what hurts most.
I have been sexually harassed in streets and in public spaces more times than I can remember. I’ve been groped on a metro ride in Portland. I’ve been threatened with sexual assault in Latin America. I recently stood in a bar in LA while a man talked to me about my body – my nipples specifically – in a way that made it clear that he saw me, my own being, as an object for his enjoyment. I’ve been in the position as an undergraduate where I’ve had to physically protect myself from males twice my size trying to act on those same feelings.
These stories are unbearably common. I count myself lucky that this is the extent of it.
So when more than half of our country, including the majority of white women, voted a man into power who normalizes sexual assault as “locker room banter,” who objectifies women by evaluating our bodies and assigning us numbers, who talks about 10-year old girls as his next prey, who cheats on his spouses with abandon, who discusses his own daughter as sex-object, who denigrates us for our weight, who calls us “pigs” and “dogs,” who has been accused of raping a 13-year old girl – it feels like a big and very personal fuck you to my safety and value as a human being.
It feels as though you have validated all of the attacks against me – and sanctioned the many more that will inevitably occur against me, my friends, my sisters, my niece.
As a straight, white, educated female I know am speaking from a place of privilege. I will not pretend to understand how many orders of magnitude greater these feelings are for my loved ones who are of a different ethnicity, orientation, faith, or ability. The uptick in hate crimes that has already occurred is something beyond my comprehension. I need you to know that my grievances are minute in comparison, but they are all I can speak to.
I have to believe that when you voted for Trump you weren’t voting for hate. Maybe you were voting from fear or a place of ignorance. Maybe you were just mad at the system. Maybe you were voting against Hillary. I have to believe this because I grew up with you, I’m related to you, I live next to you. I know I need to understand you better, but you also need to understand why your choice hurts.
President, USC Price Women & Allies