This morning I woke up to my alarm at 5 am, which I had set so I could see the election results come in in real time because France is six hours ahead of Washington DC. I hit snooze a couple times, thinking I could afford a few more minutes of sleep, because while I knew this election would be close, I assumed it would inevitably come out in the world’s favour.
Boy was I wrong.
Wrapped in two blankets, for comfort more so than warmth, in the morning darkness, I could not believe my eyes. I wondered if the early hour and lack of sleep was clouding my judgement, but as the sun came up and the reality sank in, I started to cry. This is an inconceivable blow for minorities, and as a woman, I feel so much indescribable pain in my heart. And when the seven-year-old girl I care for came downstairs for breakfast and asked why her mom was so shocked by what was on the television, my heart broke over her sweet ignorance to the utter bullshit America just got away with.
As a woman, a feminist, and a decent human being, my upset does not simply lie in the fact that a woman lost, although I am almost positive that if a man presented Hillary’s platform against Trump, he would have won in a landslide. Yes, a woman holding such a high position of power would be truly inspirational to the world, but as a woman, that is a loss I can deal with, because qualified women being shafted by institutionalized sexism is a reality I have unfortunately become acclimatized to. No, what really upsets me, the reason tears were streaming down my face as I gawked at CNN at 5 o’clock this morning, is that the so-called leader of the Free World is a man who has verbally crucified women and openly admitted to acts of sexual assault on national television.
I do not blame Hillary for not speaking tonight. I could hardly look at my French daughter this morning, so I cannot even imagine how impossible it would be for Hillary to look out at a crowd of heartbroken women, at a nation of heartbroken women, and tell them that she supports the results of the election, that everything will be okay, that these women are safe in the hands of a self-proclaimed sexual assailant.
I don’t go anywhere alone at night because I am afraid of being sexually assaulted. I hate walking down busy streets because catcalls cut deep. I avoid magazines and mainstream media because it makes me feel criticized and less valued. But all of these fears derive from strangers and faceless people, not from a man known by all, not from such a powerful figure, not from now the most powerful figure in the world. But it isn’t just Trump who I am afraid of; it is of the millions of Americans who passionately listen to what he says. The millions of men and, shockingly, women who propel his ideals and echo his sentiments. Who have become an army of bigots. Who won today.
Canada, you can joke all you want about welcoming Americans into your spare bedrooms, but the reality is, the 49th parallel does not protect us. I am currently living in the South of France, a million miles away from North America, and I do not feel safe. I am mostly joking when I suggest the possibility of a Third World War, and really, war isn’t what I am afraid of. I am afraid of the mentality shift. I am afraid because today, the bigots won. The bigots learned that they can fill their mouths with the most degrading terms, joke about rape, advocate for misogyny, and get away with it. Today the world was told that sexism, racism, hate, are all okay.
In the United States, women were granted the right to vote in 1920. Less than 100 years ago. That is disgusting. And it hasn’t exactly been paradise for the past century. We all need feminism because we do not have gender equality. Plain and simple. The fight for women’s rights is not our past; it is our present. This win is a step backwards for the world. The days when women were not even considered persons in the western world are not so far in the past, so if we step too far backwards, we will find ourselves in a dangerous reality.
If last night you went to sleep in North America fearing tomorrow, I’ve been living in tomorrow for hours now, and I can tell you it is a scary place. I will never stop fighting sexism or apologize for being a feminist, no matter the judgemental looks or name calling, because now more than ever I am afraid of what will happen if I stop.
I’m with her, her being not only Hillary at this point, but every woman alive. Because we sure as hell need it.