When I was younger, I was one of those people who barely knew politics existed. The way my life was playing out, year by year, mostly didn't fit with that kind of atmosphere-- I didn't make a lot of money and my taxes were EZFile, I didn't care about the drinking age (surprise, right?), and I didn't have to register for the draft. I could vote, I could work, I could pay my bills, even if just barely, I had health insurance through whatever job I had. If I didn't have a car, I had access to affordable public transportation. I didn't have much of an education but I had a hunger to read, I was willing to work hard and learning was easy for me; I taught myself to type and take shorthand at a time when those things were the epitome of what high-powered lawyers were looking for in secretaries.
Ah, so many things happening behind the scenes, so many things not even registering in my simple, the-world-is-all-about-me brain. I could vote. Wow, women died so I could have that right, and it took decades for that to register in my sad little brain cells.
What I didn't realize until much later was the discrimination being heaped on me, just because I'd been born a woman. It was there, yes, but it was just... well, the way it was. The same as the way the first job I got as an accounting clerk in a large Chicago real estate firm was vetted through an innocuous third party so that the firm could avoid hiring black people. I know this for a fact, since the 60s-something man who pre-interviewed me told me that because of my Tennessee accent I "sounded like a Negro on the phone, so I was hesitant to interview you. But that’s just between you and me." I was young and under-educated, and although I thought his attitude was wrong, I knew I was lucky to get that job (I was unemployed and had been interviewing for months). I kept telling myself that as the company paid me $325 a month, while the young man who sat at a desk four feet away and did the same accounting clerk job earned $450 a month. I could have literally paid my rent with that difference.
Life went on. Things got better, things got worse, then better again. Life had its ups and downs, and I generally managed to land on my feet. Along the way, though, were some interesting things I believe happened to me only because I was a woman:
While working overtime one night, I delivered something to one of the senior partners in the last law firm I worked for. I don't remember what precipitated it (I still have no idea), but for some reason he suddenly slammed (yes, slammed) me against the wall and put his arms on either side of my shoulders, his face inches away, lips headed toward mine. I was flabbergasted, but not so much that I didn't bring my arms up and outward before shoving him away. I think the best I could manage was something like, "What is wrong with you?" Nothing was ever said about it-- I knew my place, and that place was waaaaay down on the totem pole. Somehow I can't imagine a female senior partner doing that to a male secretary.
Riding to work in a horribly overcrowded elevated train on a hundred-degree morning, a young, smartly dressed man started screaming swear words and insults in my face, apparently because I had dared to pry my fingers away from where he was smashing mine against the pole. I was young, maybe a hundred and ten pounds, and dressed in office clothes. No one defended me, and he screamed at me all the way to my downtown Chicago stop. Would he have risked doing that to a man?
My soon to be ex-husband told me he thought my writing "was just a hobby," even though I'd always said all I wanted to do was be a writer. He was part owner of a farm in Michigan that he loved and went to every weekend, and he wanted to eventually move there. I had never said to him that I thought the Michigan farm was "just a hobby." I also discovered that in his chest beat the venomous heart of a homophobe, and that he thought that just by declaring it, if we had a gay child, he or she would be disowned and never allowed back in the house. Excuse me? My child? My house?
There are thousands of other things, remembered and forgotten, but those are the things that stick out as I ramble on here. Yet this isn't meant to be some kind of autobiography. I want to talk about women's rights, where we are now, what we stand to lose in the frightening and not-so-far future under President Donald Trump. I want to do this because I see so many posts and tweets telling people like me "You lost. Shut up and suck it up."
Okay, you're right. I voted for Hillary Clinton, and my candidate lost. She. Did. Not. Win. But when you say "Suck it up," let's define what IT is:
- The loss of healthcare when President Trump repeals the Affordable Care Act. No, the ACA isn't perfect, but it supplies healthcare where there was none to young people, poor people, elderly people, self-employed people, sick people, etc., and stops insurance companies from denying coverage to those who need it most. If a person's had cancer, diabetes, a heart attack, allergies, for God's sake, they still have to give you insurance. All this is going to go ::kapouf!:: and just disappear. President Trump doesn't have a replacement to put in place. Yes, healthcare is expensive, but it's been that way for far longer than Obama was in office. Back in April of 2000, seventeen years ago, COBRA wanted me to pay over $900.00 a month to keep my post-job insurance going. Wouldn't it be better to work on fixing the ACA instead of just lining it out of existence and potentially killing 44,000 Americans a year? Stop thinking about yourself for a single moment, and look around you, at your family members, your friends, your coworkers, the familiar faces at the stores where you shop. Which of them is it okay to let die?
- Defunding Planned Parenthood, which leaves a lot of women without female care. Yes, they perform abortions (for which they do NOT receive federal money), and I don't know whose percentage is correct. But they also provide women's medical services and medications for women and teens who can't afford them, and they provide birth control so maybe some teens/women don't ever end up having to make that choice to begin with. And if they do want an abortion? I may not agree with abortion, but I would rather a pregnant teen girl have that procedure at Planned Parenthood than have her try to do it herself with a coat hanger. And don't fool yourself-- that happens more than you think.
- Denying climate change. I know people on the east coast who are suspicious about their flowers starting to come up. They should be. It was February when I first started working on this blog. In November my patio Meyer Lemon Tree (outside all year long) filled with flower buds. I had delicate herbs, again outside, that are not only still growing, but started blooming with flowers in January. I have pots of petunia plants outside that are three years old. The herbs, the petunias-- these are supposed to die in winter. Even here in the Arizona high desert, because, you know, it's supposed to drop to way below freezing in the winter? A lot? And no, it's not a good thing that they aren't dying, because that means they aren't renewing. That means something's wrong. There's a natural cycle here that's being majorly fucked up by manufacturing and drilling and the use of fossil fuels. That pile of bricks and wood that you call home? It isn't. The Earth is home. If the billionaire companies turn the planet into ash and sludge while they fill their pockets with paper money, where are we going to live?
- Religious hatred, racism, homophobia. Do we really want to be the nation who discriminates because of religion, color, gender, sexual preferences? All these years, hundreds of years, to get where we are, which is still a long way from there, by the way-- there being the karmic goal of knowing we all bleed the same red from the inside out-- and we're going to turn a blind eye while one person rolls all that back? Folks, we are the greatest nation in the world, and we should be setting the greatest example in the world.
- Women's equality. Why is this even a question, especially for the women out there? Again, we bleed red on the inside, just like men. We do it all-- home, school, work, whatever-- and yet so many man see us as nothing but boobs and asses and pussies. Sure, if a guy grabs me on the street and tells me "I can do this because it's Trump's America now!" he's in for a rude and very physical awakening, following by "Fuck you-- this is America's America!" BUT I SHOULDN'T HAVE TO DEFEND MYSELF LIKE THAT. And in fact, it's not likely to happen to me because I'm white. But why should it happen at all? Why do some people think that Donald Trump being elected President makes it okay to hate, to do harm, to do shit like this? Forget the teenagers and whatnot, male and female, who are hormone-soaked and trying to grow up. They aren't doing it for the haters, so don't think it's an excuse to get all grabby and nasty because some teenybopper is wearing a halter top and shorts. I will tell you this: I wear a safety pin on my hoodie. What that means is I will step between you and your target if I see you hating on someone, of any color, of any religion, of any age, of any sex/gender, and if necessary, I will knock you on your backside to protect that person. How sad that I have to remind women that it’s your body, your decision whether or not to have a baby you might or might not want, your decision to die or live giving birth to the fetus that might kill you. Why would you want to turn that decision over to a bunch of men in suits who don’t know what it’s like to face single motherhood, carry the child of a rapist or forced incest, to have months of severe morning sickness or potentially lethal eclampsia? And how on earth can it ever be right to let those same men make it mandatory that you pay for the cremation of the remains of a miscarried child, even when you didn’t know you were pregnant?
- Freedom of the press. I don't think I'm in the minority when I say I want news, all the news, all the time. Not just some of the news. Or none of the news. This country was built on free speech, which naturally leads to freedom of the press. The watchdogs of our government cannot be the members of the government itself, or we will never have the truth. We will never know the truth, because we will know only what they want us to know. And we will never know what we don't know. Even in this day and age, don't think it can't be done.
- Gay rights, transgender rights. Can we please let these people love and be with and marry the other person they want to? Let them look the way they want to? Why do you care, as long as they aren't hurting you? They bleed red inside just like everyone else. No, don't play the "It's wrong in the eyes of God" card on this Catholic girl. I believe God is everywhere and wants people to love and be happy, not to hate because, holy moly, two penises might touch each other or some shit. I also believe in separation of church and state, which nixes, right in the BUD, the idea that the government should be able to make same-sex marriage illegal. Listen, no one is kidnapping your children and brainwashing them to be gay. No transgender person is peeping at anyone else in the restroom. Think about it: a gay person or a transgender person has already accepted themselves and taken the steps needed to live the way they want. They don't need to influence anyone else. And if you think what they do in the privacy of their bedrooms is bad, then why are you thinking about it at all? Why not turn your attention to something else, something that's amazing and beautiful and doesn't give you so much of a damned headache?
- National Parks, protected lands, the wonders of this fabulous, beautiful planet. Maybe you see it via the Internet, National Geographic Channel, magazines. If you're lucky, you see bits and pieces of it in person along hiking trails or in our National Forests. It looks endless, doesn't it? Well, folks, it's not. Mankind has this ugly way of dirtying everything it tries to expand onto. You think not? Spend ten minutes, ten minutes, on Google Images and check these out: oil spill, deforestation, oil drilling and the environment, coal mining, strip mining, fracking effects, garbage, and finally, pollution. If you haven't had enough, try this one: poisoned water. Shall we sit back and shut up and let the hard-won protections evaporate?
- Torture. Seriously? If you don't get that it's too wrong to put into words, I just have this to say: If we act like the enemy, we become the enemy.
- Honor. We are not a nation of quitters. We are not a nation of liars. We've entered into agreements, good agreements made for good reasons. I said it up there, and I'll say it again, with more force: The United States doesn't need to be "made" great. We are the greatest nation in the world, and we should be setting the greatest example in the world.
Why am I writing this? Because I saw people denigrating the marches that have been taking place-- The Women's March, and other upcoming marches (like the Science March, March for Life. and others that are being born). Gosh, no one even blinks about the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, the Memory Walk, March for Babies... the list is endless. So it's okay to make your presence known in support of fighting diseases of the body, but not when something's wrong with how we're being treated as the people of our nation? When the politicians we elected turn their backs on us, break all their promises, and start changing our shared future for the worse? When those same politicians put things into place that fatten their personal bank accounts while all the time ignoring all but the most wealthy of this country? Politicians who pay $200,000.00 for a membership in Donald Trump's private club do not understand people on social security, or people who make $15,000.00, or $30,000.00, or even $60,000.00 a year. They don't care about them.
I don't understand what's going on. Okay, Donald Trump is now President Trump. Isn't he supposed to act like a President? Isn't he supposed to have America's best interests at heart, and not his wallet's? Isn't he supposed to want to keep America secure? Since when did his private club become the extremely expensive place where the United States hosts foreign heads of state? There's no cyber security there. He's let people take photos of stuff they shouldn't and see classified documents. He's using an unsecured cellphone. He doesn't appear to understand the difference between refugees-- people running for their lives-- and terrorists. He doesn't care about the difference, and as long as you're not from a country he does business with, you can't come here.
Yes, he's now President. But that doesn't mean I have to sit back and just "take" all of this. I am an American, born and raised in this country. I have complained about it, but I have always paid my taxes. I have worked and paid social security taxes and Medicare taxes and unemployment taxes. I have the right to disagree with what the President, or any elected official, says or does. Because this is AMERICA. This is not Nazi Germany, and it's not going to be. The American people, the ones who see what he's doing way, way, way wrong, will never let that happen.
So stop telling me to shut up and suck it up. I believe we're being done wrong, and I have the right to say so. I'm going to lose some followers, some readers, and sadly, maybe some personal friends, but I'm saying what I have to say. If you voted for Donald Trump, or you voted for one of the other two who didn't have a snowball's chance in hell of winning, I think you screwed up. But what I'm seeing are people who don't want to admit that, so they say, again, shut up and suck it up. Fine, I get you might be too embarrassed to admit being wrong. So sing your praises to the President, but lay off those of us-- and we are many-- who are resisting the wrongs we believe are being done to this nation and its people. I see women who say they wouldn't vote for Trump, but wouldn't vote for Clinton either. You seriously thought voting for one of two unknowns would be a good thing? You seriously didn't know that would get Trump elected? Or you just wouldn't admit it?
Woman to woman, right here: You really believed that a man who joked about grabbing women's pussies, putting the moves on married women, who was being sued for fraud and for discriminatory hiring and renting practices, and who made fun of a disabled person on national television, was going to change?
I'm around a lot of military people and I see a chunk of the you-lost-suck-it-up coming from women in the military or from the wives of military men. This is my opinion-- and hey, just like anyone, I could be wrong-- but I view it as a sort of subconscious reverse discrimination. I truly believe that even if these women realized what they were doing they wouldn't admit it, because they don't see it. They don't even know why they wouldn't, or couldn't, vote for Hillary Clinton, or why they latched onto any reason at all to vote for anyone else. It's just the way they "felt," a deep-seated, subconscious belief that "If I vote for a woman, I will look weak in the eyes of my male military counterparts or my husband. I'll vote for the man so I don't look like I'm voting for her just because she's a woman." Yeah, I get it. I got stuck in those cross-hairs back in Chicago's Washington/Epton mayoral race in 1983. Harold Washington was black, Bernard Epton was white. I was young-- those were the days-- and just starting to think about that monster called politics. I didn't care about color; what I cared about were the legal issues tainting Washington's career (suspension of law license, failure to file taxes). A coworker and person I considered a friend accused me of being racist because I would not vote for Washington. Wait-- was I supposed to vote for him because he was black? Or because I believed he was a good candidate? But stubbornness was bred into me from the Irish side of my family, so I voted for the person I wanted to vote for. He didn't win, but okay.
You know what? Whether you're a man or a woman, and whether you didn't vote for Hillary Clinton because she's a woman, or because of Benghazi, or because of the strategically re-released emails, that's fine. I don't care. Donald Trump was elected President, and that's just the way it is.
But don't tell me to shut up and suck it up. What I said on Facebook on November 9th holds, now and forever: I will not accept the defeat or diminishing of my brothers and sisters, no matter what words come out of the White House. We worked too long and hard for gay rights, gay marriage, equal rights for people of all colors, reproductive rights for women, the right to free speech, freedom of religion. There are many things to come in the next four years I won't be able to do anything about, but I will always stand and fight against being forced to step backward in the progress that so many of us fought to attain.
If you support Trump, I don't tell you to shut up; you have your right to free speech (or at least as long as your elected President will allow it). But so do I. This is who I am. This is who I am now. Better, I hope, than I was when I was younger. Not as good as I hope to be in the future.
So YOU back the fuck up and let me stand with my sisters and brothers so that our government knows we won't let go of the things we struggled so hard to get.