To say the presidential campaign is a horror show is the understatement of the year. We have a truly frightening number of people actively endorsing white supremacy and casual sexual assault against women, and not caring that our children are receiving the message, loud and clear (even if he loses), that this is not only excusable behavior, but becoming of the potential leader of our country.
Wednesday night’s final debate was predictably horrifying but brought no real surprises, because as Samantha Bee’s team points out, absolutely anything could happen in this campaign now. There are no standards of basic human decency or adult behavior, never mind presidential behavior or even entry-level professionalism. There is no bottom.
Attacking women’s reproductive freedom by ranting about medical procedures that don’t exist? Yawn. Threatening the stability of our Democracy? Par for the course. “Such a nasty woman” had to be the cherry on top, but if you were watching CNN examine the wreckage afterward, the real gem was Van Jones saying, “You can’t polish that turd.”
How about that “nasty woman” comment? Apart from the misogynist piggishness, which at this point is expected of Trump, and the fact that we as a country allow this crap in our presidential politics—sadly, also no surprise at this point—what else does it say?
He knew he was screwed with women voters, and clearly that comment was not going to help, so it speaks to the fact that my 6-year-old has better impulse control than this guy. And I mean way better. Just the quality you want in the leader of the free world!
Trump’s now infamous comments about grabbing women’s genitals without consent, and even to a lesser extent the way he and Billy Bush talked about the woman they were about to meet in a professional setting, have triggered women everywhere. As Michelle Obama said so eloquently, it hurts. It hurts because we’ve all, to greater or lesser degrees, been on the receiving end of words and acts that say our bodies don’t belong to us, that we exist for men’s entertainment, pleasure, and as outlets for their pent-up aggression. Those of us currently living inside the worst of it are hurt most by the collective “boys will be boys” wink and nod, and the incredible fact that this guy can still run for president after bragging about criminal acts of sexual assault. For those of us who have fought hard to heal and fully own our sexuality, and our worth as human beings—it hurts to be reminded.
Women have responded by coming forward with their stories. One woman who tweeted her experience of being assaulted on a bus at age 12 invited women to tweet her their first sexual assaults. She received tens of thousands of tweets within days. I have my own stories to tell, maybe someday but not today. Plenty of people are already telling versions of them, anyway, and telling the larger story of what it’s really like to be a woman. My two favorites are by the same writer. One of them is a year old but relevant as ever in light of recent events:
An Open Letter to Donald Trump From Some Angry Women, by Gretchen Kelly,
The Thing All Women Do That You Don’t Know About, by Gretchen Kelly (Huff Post)
As many have pointed out, the last straw for those Republican politicians who have finally denounced Trump should have come long ago with his disparagement of just about every demographic group other than white men. Who knows if this was the breaking point because the abused group in question now consists of white people (albeit women), or because the word “pussy” (as opposed to the assaults themselves, of course) was too much for their pseudo-Christian puritanical sensibilities? Probably some of both.
One thing is clear, those supporting him at this point are at best OK with a white supremacist agenda and at worst rabid White Supremacists themselves. I’m not sure whether there’s a difference. Some may insist they’re supporting him for other reasons, but that’s inadequate and they don’t get off the hook for being willing to overlook his divisive, violence-inciting hatred like it’s a small peripheral detail. There is tangible fallout for real people already, like first graders getting beaten up by other first graders because of their religion, and their families feeling forced to leave the country—their home— to protect their children, for just one example. Writer Ijeoma Oluo said, “If you believe that you are actively against White Supremacy and yet you will support Trump, you are lying to yourself. People are being hurt right now by the racism that Trump is peddling, by the bravado that the legitimization of this election is giving to White Supremacists…You looked at a campaign built on open, gleeful, hate-filled White Supremacy and you said, ‘sign me up!’”
Meanwhile, the same media who gave Trump the disproportionate amount of airtime that might have propelled him through the primaries is barely covering the foiled (thank God) domestic terrorist plot to blow up an apartment building full of 120 Muslim people of color. One of these white terrorists said it was fine with them if their victims included babies, too. Born ones. Where’s the outrage on that from the “Christian” Right? At least the suspects are being called what they are—terrorists—but how much more present would this story be in the news cycle if these men were any color other than white, or if Muslims were the conspirators instead of the intended victims?
It’s the same media that refers to a bunch of far right extremists stockpiling weapons and making plans for God knows what after the election as “militia groups.” If these “militia groups” consisted of brown or black people, only then would they be called what they are—suspected domestic terrorist cells.
Like so many, I’ve felt a sense of foreboding and a pit of dread in my stomach for much of the last couple weeks. I pray that at the end of the day, love wins. I pray all this signals the last gasp of an old world order of oppression and violence. I pray Glennon Doyle Melton is right, that the Trump phenomenon is our collective “rock bottom,” after which we will admit the extent of our sickness as a culture and begin some real healing.
When I look at my kids, all our kids, who will either inherit a putrefying, deteriorating mess of a world or one that’s finally healing and evolving, I have to stay hopeful it will be the latter. And they are the ones who give me hope that it will. Michelle Obama told the story of the 6-year-old who knew “You can’t be the president if you call someone a piggy.” Kids seem to understand deal-breakers in a way the grown-ups don’t. And unlike the slimmer margins when we adults are polled, if the election were up to kids, Trump would lose in a landslide.
This could be because children haven’t yet had the time for enough of them to be fully indoctrinated with rabid racism, misogyny, xenophobia and fear of all things “other.”
I choose to believe it’s because contrary to all horrifying appearances of late, we are evolving, and the coming generations will have higher consciousness than ours. Love will win.
© Copyright Camille Williams and Wake Up, Mama! 2016