Nearly a month has passed. Hillary Clinton’s lead in the popular vote keeps growing – yet Donald Trump will still be president. I keep thinking of that election day and what my mom had said in response. And it pained me to think how much my mother deserved a female president.
That day, I walked into an exam excited because I thought the US was about to have the first female president. I walked out and found my world had shattered a little. Hearing that Trump, a candidate I considered a joke, had won the election was the first time that the world had failed me. I was shocked, angry and then sad. I called my mom, incredulous, and then had to hang up when I heard the pain in her voice. Because if anyone I know deserved Hillary to win, it was my mom.
My mom, as I grow older, becomes more and more the woman I want to be. She’s stronger yet kinder than anyone I know and that’s a hard equation for anyone to achieve. As a young, lower-middle-class American woman born into 1950s suburbia, she suffered much of the sexism that I now consider ancient history. She tells me horrific stories, such as sexual assault in the workplace, with a nonchalant humour that makes me wonder what reality was like for her.
But what scares me most about my mom’s past are the stories that she doesn’t tell me. When she cautions me with a severity she rarely shows, about how to fight off unwanted sexual advances, she scares me. When she tells me to stand up for myself regardless of the situation, it scares me. When she looks at me with a harsh love and tells me she will always love me regardless of what happens to me, it scares me. And when she looks frightened for me going out alone, or walking home alone, or moving to university alone, it scares me. Because behind every piece of advice, is a story I’m too afraid to ask about.
My mom taught me the word feminist without ever describing it’s meaning, letting me figure out what it meant. Until I was seven, my mom worked for Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, and now and again she would find scissors propped against her tires, in some strange form of aggression against abortion. During her years there, she collected an elaborate amount of scissors. It’s an anecdote my dad always laughs at, because they’re some of the best quality scissors we’ve had, still in use today. Now, as I read Trump’s proposal to punish women who get abortions, I think about those scissors. About the fact that we thought it hilariously dumb someone would so strongly oppose a woman’s choice over her own body that they would threaten to slash my mom’s tires. It almost seems worrying that we laughed. We had taken that choice for granted. We thought we were moving forward, and yet America is moving backwards. Backwards to a leader representing and legitimising misogyny, racism, homophobia and is currently under investigation for sexual assault. The kind of president who would probably leave scissors under my mom’s tires.
My mom deserved a female president. She deserved it because she’s fought all her life, outwardly and silently, for female equality. She deserved Hillary to win to legitimise the new age of women’s liberation and a sign of a slow end to the patriarchy. She deserved Hillary to win because she told me that as a young teenager, she never thought she’d see a female president.
I called my mom again, late at night. I was upset, and she was upset for me, but she was also, as always, rational and told me with clarity: “Evil men always win, I’ve known so many, and they always, always win.” And that’s why she deserved a female president to finally win; because evil men shouldn’t win, and in my experience, they don’t always win. But to my mom, to my mom who has fought for so long, they do.
And this year, an evil man won again.
And that’s why it was the first time the world had failed me. Instead of fulfilling the hopes my mom instilled in me, the US election showed the world that we’re moving backwards. It allowed an evil man to win, and it failed every young girl whose mother told her that she was everything, because Hillary is now nothing. And she should be president.