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I can’t say I’m shocked, because I’m not. I’m disappointed, but not shocked; after all Mr. Trump was nominated in the first place. A lot of us thought that was a pretty funny joke to start, but obviously he wasn’t in on it. And if that wasn’t insulting enough to my Canadian, feminist sensibilities, he ran against Hillary Clinton: a qualified, educated woman who has worked her whole life for the opportunity only to lose it to some business tycoon with a bad comb over and verbal diarrhea.
America, you voted in a black man for 8 years of sisyphean politics, in which he struggled to give you universal health care, to care take your environment and promote equality for people of any race, gender, creed or colour. He managed, even with a divided House to do some of the things he promised. He and his wife, both educated and eloquent speakers, made your northern neighbours feel that they had the best interests of their people at heart and worked to keep America classy.
And then you pull Trump out of the box; the antithesis of Barack in possibly every way. This is not to say that there are not things that Trump can accomplish for the states. I’m being generous here, because the man himself makes me want to vomit, but I was taught to look at every angle before making snap judgments. If he has half the business acumen he says he has, there is a chance he can boost the flagging American economy – but I fear for the people, the environment and international relations as he does so.
I am embarrassed for America, that your system is so broken that a man who threatens the peace and safety of more than half your population is the one who won -over a woman who was infinitely more qualified (and infinitely less likely to threaten to nuke a foreign diplomat over dinner) in spite of what she may or may not have done that no one can seem to definitively prove. (This shit reeks of the ‘birther’ movement during Obama’s election, so forgive me if I remain skeptical.) I am disappointed because so many people voted for him for uninformed reasons and gut reactions in regards to having a woman as president. I am disappointed because the electoral system didn’t really seem to reflect what many people actually wanted.
I knew, like everyone knew, that America has a racism problem. This is painfully evident with the rise of Black Lives Matter, with the distrust and hate directed towards Syrian refugees, and the general “terrorist’ rhetoric. (etc.) I also knew there was a sexism problem, since planned parenthood is still – incomprehensibly – a topic debated in government for example. Because Brock Turner barely got a slap on the wrist… I could go on. But what I didn’t realize was just how big the sexism issue was – even worse than the race issue. I can’t fathom either of these because I am fortunate enough to have been brought up in a country that (for the most part) values people for who they are and what they can do rather than how they fit in a dated world view based on physical attributes and unquestioned, ingrained attitudes.
Trump’s campaign did a lot of damage before he was even elected. Damage that even a loss wouldn’t have stomped out, which points to this particular festering problem in a huge way. He made it alright for people to be racist or sexist by being overtly so in the endless media coverage these last interminable months. While most of us non Americans see a petulant windbag spouting hurtful and demeaning language at every opportunity, many Americans saw a figurehead for the very things they’d been burying for the sake of public decency.
But this is no reason for Americans to flee to Canada. Stop breaking our Immigration website! (Yes, we need immigrants because we have too few professionals to replace our retiring workforce, but we can’t take you all!) In fact, it’s more important now more than ever to stay where you are. You need to work on loving each other and defeating this culture of division and hate on your home soil. This is the bravest and the best thing to do for yourself, for your children and your country.
Sexism, like racism comes from a place of fear. A lack of understanding of what is classified as ‘other’. We know what we know and we are comfortable with it, but when something comes along and throws that comfortable/familiar world view out of whack, it shatters the illusion that things are the way they’re supposed to be. The first instinctual reaction is fear. Much like if you discover a cockroach in your kitchen: you stomp on it. Over time, you learn that the cockroach is really only in your kitchen because he’s got nowhere else to go and he’s got to feed his kids the same as you.
Honest. Perhaps that’s a bad example, but it’s not wrong per se. I am not a cockroach any more than you are, dear reader, but fear is still ruling how people see each other, and more importantly, how people treat each other.
They are threatened by a faith they cannot understand and do not want to understand because it conflicts with their own. They are threatened by customs and traditions they do not understand. They fear being overtaken by the other, frightened that they will be consumed or destroyed by it. I sort of understand this as it’s the same reason we fear death – because we are terrified of obliteration.
But this implies that the proverbial other wants to obliterate in the first place, which is categorically only something that one does in what one perceives as self defence. A viscous catch-22.
So break it.
Take a deep breath and look at the other people around you. Stop and take a good look. Why do you hate them? Did they all suddenly decide they wanted your job in particular? Highly unlikely. Did they kill your dog or steal your wife/husband? (Steal is a stupid word, by the way, a person’s affections can’t be stolen, they’re given.) Did a Muslim or a Jew tell you that you were wrong about something you were categorically sure was true? Maybe you were right, but then again maybe he’s as entitled to his opinion as you are to yours. Why are you afraid of gay people? Do not assume that because they are the same gender and are gay that they are into you specifically – that’s pretty narcissistic. And even f they were what makes you think that saying ‘no’ wouldn’t be enough? (Oh wait, because you’ve been taught that no is just another form of yes for women, so when the table is turned it freaks you out, am I right?) Are you threatened by a woman being your boss? Why? What pain is it going to cause you to report to her if she is as intelligent and qualified as the job demands? Other than to your pride? Pride won’t put dinner on the table. (I know it sounds like I’m picking predominantly on white guys, but that was not intentional. I write out of my own experiences and cannot truly speak to the experiences of others. Most of the sexism I have experienced has come from a white guy. I know many are not sexist and I know that many poc are also very sexist. There are no hard hand fast lines or rules, which is the beauty of the human race – which is the point I’m trying to make. If you’re sensitive about ‘not all men’ then perhaps you need to do as this post suggests below. )
I have so many questions for misogynists and racists because I simply do not understand. I don’t understand because I have the privilege to get up in the morning and I go to work with people from many countries; men and women both. Many of them have different religions and not all of us agree on the same things. But we all draw on our different experiences and backgrounds to ensure a common goal is met. We use our differences instead of letting them turn us into a useless collection of people working at odds with each other. It’s a country in microcosm. How we treat each other has a ripple effect because we’re happy to go to work, which means we’re happy when we come home, which means we can enjoy our home time with our family, which means that our kids are happy because we are not fighting with each other which means our kids go to school happy and knowing that each person has something to contribute to a community regardless or because of their differences. You may not be able to change the whole country, but you can change yourself and I’m asking every last one of you to reevaluate your views of the people around you.
What stereotypes to you take for granted? Why do you do it? What language to you use to refer to people of colour or members of another religion, or even members of the opposite sex? What limitations do you automatically assume people have based on their appearance? Why? Become that four year old again and question everything. You are a product of your experiences and you are the only one who can make sense of them – and you are the only one who can change things for the better.
You’re right, this isn’t going to stop Trump right now, nor is it going to solve any of the underlying problems over night, but it’s important just the same. Important and achievable. If you won’t do it for you, do it for your kids because they deserve a better world than the one you’re living in right now.