Last week, American women, LGBTQ Americans, African Americans, Muslim Americans, differently-abled Americans, and anyone who does not look like the gleeful white men celebrating at Trump’s Campaign Head Quarters woke up to the unthinkable.
Despite winning the popular vote, Hillary Clinton, the first woman Democratic candidate for President of the United States, lost to a grandstanding, mendacious “anti-establishment ” multimillionaire who has a long history of racist, sexist, homophobic and bigoted remarks and actions.
There’s been much virtual ink spilled over the course of this election. There have been think pieces and think pieces on think pieces. A significant chunk of election coverage meta-focused on how election coverage was done–was it fair? Was it biased? Did it give Donald Trump a free ride from the primaries to the White House? And in the weeks and months to come, more will be written on an election outcome that has shocked the world, upset markets, and left a great many of us struggling for words.
Election coverage was reported to be a significant source of stress for the majority of Americans, and I suspect it was the same for us at home and across the world . Anecdotally, most people in my social circle took social media and election news ‘breaks’, to keep their own sanity. For the women I know, the relentless onslaught of ugly, crass , terrifying and violence-inciting sexism that Trump spouted over the protracted campaign period was intolerable. Many hoped that the election would finally bring this often overwhelming barrage of vitriol to a close. Today, most of us are struggling with the knowledge that the election of a man who called for “second-amendment folks” to “do something” about his female opponent has legitimized this hateful discourse. America’s great shame lies in allowing a caricature of bigotry to assume the highest office in the country, with the added padding of having a Republican-controlled House and Senate.
“A woman’s record is scrutinized twice as hard for her to get half as far”
Perhaps most shocking is that 43% of white women voted for Trump, in addition to 63% of white men. In election-bible/false prophet FiveThirtyEight’s analysis of the 4 to 5 percent difference between poll predictions and the results of the election lies a clue: women who supported Donald Trump were less likely to feel comfortable talking to a pollster about their vote.
This election was a blow to those of us hopeful that, just under a century after (white) women gained the right to vote in the United States, the country would elect its first female president and shatter the highest glass ceiling. Instead, 43% of women voted to elect a candidate who has, on record, sexually objectified his daughter, called his opponent a “nasty woman” during one of the presidential debates, and has called for women to be “punished” who exercise the right to choose. These results leave open and urgent questions about both accurately predicting voter intentions and engaging a voting block that is far from monolithic. How do female candidates, especially vocally pro-women ones, fight sexism and inspire their female voter base?
We are also left with questions about how far women still have to go to close the gap for equal treatment. Hillary Clinton’s shortfallings as a candidate were thrust into the spotlight every time she dipped in the polls, evidence that a woman’s record is scrutinized twice as hard for her to get half as far. Even next to a man who is accused of sexually assaulting multiple women, who is embroiled in multiple lawsuits, including a class-action lawsuit for fraud for which he is due in court weeks before his inauguration.
As we look to the next two years, and the next four, and then the next eight, I hope we remember Hillary Clinton’s words from her concession speech: “Please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.”
Or, as Hari Nef, transgender supermodel, activist and all-around superhero said, “When you’re done mourning you’ll fight. If you’re not a white straight christian cisgender male citizen of the USA, you’ll probably have to”.
Monika Viktorova, Equal Voice Alberta North Volunteer
Monika Viktorova is a feminist, an activist, and an MSc in Biochemistry. She likes to balance her media intake with articles about inspiring women and thinkpieces about how millennials are supposedly ruining everything. She can usually be found in cafes that have wifi and gluten-free snacks.