Saturday, November 19, 2016

A Welling Rage

When I was in high school, a boy in my class asked me out on a date. He shared a car with his brother, so he asked if we could go on the date in my car instead. When I told my dad about this, he asked, “Are you going to let him drive?”
“No,” I said. “It’s my car.”
“Well,” he said. “You don’t have to be such a femi Nazi about it.”
I am not that old, invisible audience. That did not happen in the 50’s – it happened in the late 90’s.
It wasn’t that long ago that I was told I should let a man drive my car like a good little girl, but I was still as surprised as anyone when Trump won the election. Since that night, I have been reeling. I have felt isolated, betrayed, and alone, because alone is the place I go when I’m most afraid. There’s no one there to help you, the most terrified part of my reptile brain tells me. You’re the only one you can count on.
Fear does that to me. Fear makes me feel like I am standing in a rainstorm, screaming for help, but no one can hear me. Fear makes me feel like I’ve lost my goddamn mind – like there’s no one else out there that feels like me, understands how I feel, or will stand beside me in my darkest moments.
But I’m not alone. The number of people – to say nothing of our electoral system – who voted for Clinton has outstripped the number who voted for Trump. I have talked to many friends and heard from many others who feel the same. The people in the podcasts I listen to; all my go-to sources of inspiration, strength and courage voted the same way that I did. When I look at the people who voted for Trump, I know that a lot of them voted for him because they did not feel that Clinton and the Democratic Party had their best interests at heart. I hear them say that they did not vote for Trump because of his racist, xenophobic and misogynist opinions and agenda. The trouble I face with these voters is that they decided they could overlook those parts of his personality. It scares me.
I was living in Spain on 9/11. I had just arrived; I spent almost another year outside the U.S. before I came back to a country locked into its own fear. During that time abroad, I made friends with several Muslims, who experienced open acts of racism because they shared a religion with the terrorists on those planes. I became better friends with two of them than I did with most of the Spaniards in the residence hall where I lived. A lot of times, I felt I had more in common with them than Spaniards, many of whom made fun of me because I didn’t speak the language well and couldn’t communicate my needs, my emotions, or the fact that I was a real, three-dimensional human being. Nevertheless, what I experienced studying abroad is nothing compared to what many Americans and immigrants have experienced here in the U.S.
I am terrified, but I also have some hope. I have hope because I came back to the U.S. in 2002 feeling like everyone had lost their minds. Right before I left Spain, I met an American woman on Fourth of July. My friend asked her if the country agreed with what George W. Bush was doing – at that point, weapons of mass destruction were still being cited as the reason the U.S. was invading other countries. No, the woman said. We don’t agree with him, but we’re behind him because he’s our president. Hearing that made me feel like I'd lost my mind.
The dissension I see – the people passing around donation suggestions for civil right defense groups; the rallies; the protests and the marches – they give me hope. I’m not alone in my fear, and I’m also not standing alone in a thunderstorm, wondering why no one else can hear me. There are many of us. We’re not interested in having a country that gives into its fear and takes it out on others. Although I don’t think making it an us versus them issue is ultimately going to heal the country, the anger in me is welling up. I am fucking pissed that a man who brags about grabbing women by the pussy was voted into the White House. I am pissed that he just demanded an apology from a multicultural theater group who respectfully used their first amendment right to free speech to ask the soon-to-be-vice-president to hear them. I am pissed we seem to have taken a huge step back in time. And I’m scared. But I’m not alone.
I felt like I betrayed myself after 9/11, when I didn’t use the voice I had to speak out about what I saw in a bigger way. I only talked about my experience abroad and the pervasive fear I felt when I got back to the States with people who I thought agreed with me. This time, however, it’s been boiling in my gut, and I cannot keep it to myself. Sure, there are people who say it better than I do; there are people who have more followers and readers. There are people who stand to lose a lot more than me. But for the record: I’m here, I am not ok with this, and I’m saying it out loud.

Love and pissed kisses