I’m not sleeping.
It’s taken me several years to find my rage. As Madeleine Albright famously said – “It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.” The crucible of a law firm has sharpened me, and I am more pointed and dangerous and willing to scratch.
The election was such a thrill and then such a gut punch. I was surprised at how physical my dread and disappointment were, how much it has shredded my body to go through this. The one consolation I have is that this orange buffoon, who is not curious and does not work and does not read and almost certainly did not actually want this job, is miserable right now. The party of “personal responsibility” and “pay our debts” has elected the dude who lost a billion dollars in a year and instead of paying a cent of it back, used it as an excuse to not pay taxes. (Meanwhile, I will pay 10% or more of my income to student loan debt repayment for 40 years by the time I’m done – no bankruptcy, and I pay tax on all but the first $5000 of it every year, because the tax code was written by rich dudes, for rich dudes).
Day one, when he is woken at 4:30 am and given his day’s thousand page stack of briefings and told of the 47 or so decisions he has to make in the first hour, he’s going to put his crumpled face in his paws and cry. I’ll bet Melania has more hustle and more done in the first week than he does. This is a spoiled little rich boy who has never worked a day in his life – he just swans from depositions to tv appearances to interviews to dinners, and skips them if he doesn’t feel like going. He’s about to learn for the first time, at age 70, about what hard work is. Speaking as a woman who has billed 200+ hours over the past four months in addition to splitting the care of three children, he is NOT going to like it. The proletariat elected Marie Antoinette as its revolutionary hero, and in about point zero three seconds he’s going to throw up his hands and tell them to eat cake. They will eat him alive – they’ll have to, because they’ll be starving to death. Half of them because Trump signed a contract with them for services and then refused to pay once the work was done. Winning business strategy – make a promise, reap the benefit, renege on your promise. Hey voters – – – you’re about to see what it’s like to be a Trump contractor. And you didn’t even make him sign a legal contract with you, that at least you could sue him over! Dude’s already said “psych, not overturning Obamacare” and he’s not even in office yet. What else did he promise you that’s he’s not even going to pretend to do?
As the survivor of domestic abuse (age 20-23, haven’t seen him since then and he’s not even American so I won’t be seeing him, so don’t be concerned), and numerous more minor sexual assaults that I’ve been expected to simply fold into my experience and “get over” (which of course I have, but only lately have I found that to be infuriating), I am sad to be validated by this country’s blind-eye to female pain. My domestic violence law professor once noted, truthfully, that judges are more likely to remove children from the custody of their father if he beat their dog in front of them, than if he beat their mother. And in fact, in actual statistical fact, a judge is more likely to award full custody to a man who beat the children’s mother, than to a man who did not. I’ve been wrapping my mind around that one for a few years. Just add this latest electoral insult to the pile. I read that women around the country have been re-living their assaults as “Pussygate” happened. We’ve also been validated – we always thought that nobody would defend us or care if we reported our assault, and we were right! Nobody does care! Sexual assault isn’t even a disqualifier for the White House! A man can literally do whatever he wants to scads of ladies, and their reports of anguish won’t tarnish him one bit. He is expected to take what he wants, and we are expected to get over it.
I’m being flip here but underneath that is a truth I’ve been trying to come to grips with for years – there is literally nothing I could have done to make Ben pay for his abuse. I was too physically weak to block his blows – he was a short dude, only had an inch on me, but he could overpower me easily nonetheless, so no retributive punches would’ve landed that wouldn’t have gotten me knocked unconscious right back. If I’d reported a thing at the time, I’d be accused of slandering his name. I’d be the one ostracized, while we waited to get “all the facts.” And if he ran for office somewhere now and a woman came forward and said “he beat me” and I heard about it and I stood up, re-lived that trauma, and said “he beat me, too,” the whole world would still fucking elect him, because they literally do not care. Beating or abusing someone weaker than you is not even a factor that goes against you. I cannot tell you how painful that is to really grok, in the way I grok it now. 99.9% of men in this country are stronger than me. Do you fully understand now, the way I do, that we exist un-raped at their pleasure? The only thing keeping us from being chattel is a social construct, of what a civilized society is and does. And we just voted to blow that up.
The party that is now in power refused to hold a confirmation hearing on the very qualified and responsibly moderate Supreme Court nominee chosen by a legitimately elected President, simply because the President was a different party. This unprecedented decision has hurt businesses immeasurably over the last several months – it has stalemated countless business forecasting decisions, forcing several groups to just be on hold for months, unable to move until this seat is filled. And they GOT AWAY WITH IT. So now what? We do the same back? We each hold the line against the other, until we have zero Supreme Court justices? What if President Trump is told that one of his executive orders is unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, and he says “fuck you bitches, I don’t care?” The only reason any prior president was restrained by the Supreme Court’s decision of what is constitutional is because they respected the judiciary and exerted self control, not because the judiciary has some kind of army to go and strong-arm the president. The system of checks and balances isn’t in place because each branch of government has equal fire power. It’s because each branch follows the rules. When you destroy that – when you say “I only follow the rules when I feel like it,” then you no longer have a civilized society. You end up with autocracy. Saddam Hussein was a thin-skinned autocrat. You go against him, you get executed. The thin, gossamer web of civilization is so easily torn aside.
We all exist un-raped, literally and metaphorically, because of a civil construct. Take down that civil construct, and you will find out what “might makes right” actually means. You think Trump is “small government”? You think there is no possible future where he could start seizing your assets and jailing his opponents? And you think the Party will keep him in line? They can’t even control his Twitter-rage.
The reports of Nazi symbols and “Build a Wall” chants and such will die down, I believe. They are horrifying, but I think most of it is shitty kids trying to get a rise, and look – 13 year olds get to act like assholes. You box their ears and tell them to quit, but they’re feeding off the heightened emotions of the election and they will eventually simmer down (I hope). The pain they inflict is real, but my point here is that let’s not spend our time worrying too much about the middle school because these kids have no filter, no maturity, and cannot be expected to behave like civilized adults. Let’s keep our eyes where they belong – we will soon have a president whose development arrested at about middle school age. The 70 year old shouting “Build a Wall” and “grab that pussy” is more of a concern to me. As are the draconian, decidedly NOT small government policies his disaster of a cabinet is going to put in place. While shouting about restrictive “sharia law,” these people are fouling the name of Jesus Christ in trying to enact a shadow sharia law in this land, claiming it is in His name. God, we need our Pope – our Muslim-prisoner-foot-washing, prostitute-blessing, science-following, disabled-person-hugging Pope – now more than ever. I’m not a Catholic, but holy heck is that man actually living out the promise of Christ much more closely than the Trump cabinet members chanting His name in support of more guns, more intolerance, and more violence (and less vaccinations, less contraception LESS CONTRACEPTION, less refugee relief, and less feeding-of-the-poor – because we all know those poor people deserve to be poor, and Trump inherited-millions-of-dollars has earned his riches). If Jesus were here he would throw their tables off the temple floor, and then go and sit with a black immigrant transgender refugee teen and wash the teen’s feet with his long black glossy hair.
I never fully understood – or much paid attention to or cared about – the narrative of Hillary Clinton as hateful corrupt Lady Macbeth murderer bitch. Until I began walking in the halls of ambition and power, until I got a little closer to the nucleus of people who ‘run things around here.’ Let’s cut to the chase and skip the hedging – they’re all dudes, they’re all white, and they want to keep it that way. I can’t tell you how many times a powerful man has put his hand on my skirt-suited knee and then stared me down and dared me to do something about it. Once, a man who went to a third tier toilet law school, graduated bottom of his class, and had never really distinguished himself as a lawyer, told me I had to earn my right to be a lawyer for him and I would do only paralegal-level work for him at first. Putting me in my place.
This is why I grew to love her so, so much. This is why the “I could have stayed home and baked cookies” comment began to ring so true for me. It’s not that staying home has no value – Jesus, she spent her whole life working to improve the lives of mothers and children. It’s that she got so sick of less smart, less skilled, less talented, less prepared, less hardworking men condescendingly telling her that that’s where she should be. I cannot believe that woman has not literally, actually exploded, bits and pieces of skin and bone and red hot blood in a blast zone for a hundred mile radius.
The one saving grace here – the one tiny sliver of a silver lining, as Rome burns – is that I am flying high on the updrafts of hot air. I am riding a wave of rage that is going to make some changes that will help the weak. I have several projects going. When they come for the Muslims, I will speak for them. When they come for the gays, I will speak for them. When they come to have their way with the ladies, I will fight for them – for us. I have much to offer, and I’ve finally found my voice, and I am not going to be silent. Thank you, Madeleine. Thank you, Susan B. Anthony.
Thank you, Hillary. President elect of my glorious feminist broken heart, if not my country.