At the midpoint and end of each year I’ll take the most viewed post and make a revised version. This year was Married in Trumpland
This past November we had the opportunity to come together and stand up to hate and division and we failed. While Clinton won a heavy lead in the popular vote, we still managed to elect a man who is the exact opposite of what this country represents. And, unfortunately, that happens from time to time. Just like every now and then a best friend or family member marries someone who is not even close to good enough for them. No matter how many people try to show them the facts and figures and why this relationship would not be in their best interest, they choose to go with them anyway. I don’t know if it’s stubbornness, the ‘ol self-fulfilling prophecy at work, or just straight up ignorance.
I had a feeling Donald Trump would win; not because he has shown that he’s a great leader, but he fits the picture of what so many think is presidential. Hey, screw what he says and that he’s the least qualified candidate to ever run for office–look at him. Look at that light-skinned, light-haired man with a bunch of money. He is our answer! Clinton has been guilty in the eyes of many for decades. They’re just waiting for the crime they can actually convict her for. Fake news is propaganda-ridden and filled with make-believe conspiracy theories, but if it involves either Clinton than it is taken as truth. It’s baffling. The right amount of voters in the right amount of states believed more ugly lies about a woman than ugly truths about a man. And you know what they say about powerful women, right? Weak men can’t stand them. Girls who have never struggled or have yet to break through what’s holding them back do not trust them. Empowered women empower women. Our women didn’t show up for us. So many did and I love that. But so many didn’t. We all know what we lost. I’m trying to focus on what I’ve actually gained. Is there a silver lining?
Through this past election season and the making of Trumpland, I’ve heard some pretty vile and derogatory things. I’ve heard minorities and women and the disabled being mocked and ridiculed. I’ve heard the victims of sexual assault being verbally assaulted over and over again. I’ve watched as an overqualified woman had just about every email she’s ever written public for the world to see. Could you imagine? I’ve listened to every excuse as to why Hillary Clinton should not be our next president while those same people were never able to articulate why, in fact, Donald Trump should be our president. And while Donald Trump was the actual leader in all of that, I heard it the most on social media and day-to-day interactions with family, acquaintances, old friends, and even strangers. And that’s what I’ve gained in the making of Trumpland. I’ve gained awareness.
I knew all this hate, and even apathy, existed but I didn’t realize how close it was to me. I didn’t realize that so many women that had some part in my growth, voted for a man like Donald Trump. Why? Because he’s republican, and so are they? The only way I can wrap my head around why they did is that they got lost in all the propaganda. They were too busy listening to the bullshit narrative that Hillary Clinton is evil and going to kill all the babies while taking away all the guns that they actually believed Trump was going to save the coal industry, be good for small business, actually help unions, and better our schools. We can look at his cabinet picks and see that isn’t going to happen. And no, they didn’t have to vote for Hillary because she is a woman. But they could have voted for Hillary Clinton because she would have and has been fighting for women’s rights. She’s been fighting for children’s rights. She helps survivors of domestic and sexual assault. She doesn’t believe that a woman should just keep quiet and listen to her man. She doesn’t believe you should keep your head down and do what he says. We all know she had to walk that path at some points in her life and she’s overcome it.
And that’s what breaks my heart the most. I personally know women who are in relationships and marriages with men who literally do abuse them, both physically and mentally, and they just voted for Trump. It’s as if they are afraid to step past the misogyny that has been holding them back, so they just vote to continue with it. It’s easier. Why draw attention to a problem that you can hide? Part of me wants to give them a huge hug because they clearly need it, and part of me just doesn’t even know how to communicate with them anymore. If you keep cutting off your nose to spite your face, how will you wear the glasses that can lead you away? And then I stop for a moment, look at who they surround themselves with, and reflect. “You are who you associate yourself with.” If you are surrounded by people who question YOU, who try to give you ways to AVOID abuse rather than solutions to GET AWAY from abuse, then it’s no secret that you start to think that you are the cause of all of this. That you are the reason he hits you, that he cheats on you, that he belittles you, that he spits on you. And then I start to understand why women stay where they are. The men they’ve tied themselves to are the obvious type of Trump supporter. The stereotypical ones. They belittle them every chance they get and slowly chip away at their self-worth. And then other men and women in their life are people who believe that a woman should just forgive and be quiet and let God handle it and all will be okay. No. That’s not how it works. If you’re faith rests in the hands of God then you have to actually look at what he’s showing you. You have to channel that faith inwards and believe in yourself.
And while I know not just women suffering in abusive relationships voted for Trump, I focus on them the most because my heart aches for them the most. According to the Domestic Abuse Shelter of Florida Keys, “Battering is the single major cause of injury to women, exceeding rapes, muggings and auto accidents combined.” And with my acknowledgement of that, I’ve gained the confidence in myself and the family I’ve created to distance myself from those that enable this behavior. If you have a loved one in an abusive relationship and you encourage them to just rock it out and not to disagree with their spouse anymore, I don’t think I can break bread with you. I don’t think I can stay silent. When I have friends and family who end up in relationships with domestic violence I always look at the people surrounding them. I listen to the messages those people send. I always offer a listening ear and give my opinion on solutions and I try to give concrete examples of places they can go and ways they can continue without them. I can’t force anyone to choose what I would choose; but I can honestly say I have never encouraged anyone I love to stay with someone who was mistreating them. And so I stand confident that people who give the “grin and bear it” version of a solution are not my people. We know the abuser is scum, but who is empowering these women to know they are better on their own? And if doing it yourself is something you just don’t believe you can do, look to the right women. We will always help you. Even after I tell you to stop cutting off your nose to spite your face, I will help you. Like-minded men and women will help you. We won’t look down on you or pity you, we will help you.
I’m so thankful I go home to a man who will never put me in that position. I’m thankful I didn’t marry someone who would look over my shoulder while voting on a ballot, or operate our home by fear and intimidation. I don’t want that confused for bragging about my marriage. I say these things because they are the bare minimum of what is expected in a marriage. Whether you’re a husband or wife your commitment requires, at minimum, to not harm your spouse. The absence of physical abuse and adultery does not warrant a gold star to any man or woman. Congratulations, you skated by with a C. And chances are there was someone in the shadows helping you maintain that C. Men should not be rewarded for changing a diaper or going to work full-time or not being a drunk or an abusive spouse or father–that should be appreciated, but not rewarded. Just as there are bare minimums expected from a wife or mother. I’m a stay a home mom. I don’t get gold stickers for keeping a clean house, clean clothes, clean kids or activities organized or not being a drunk or an abusive spouse or an adulterer. And believe me, strangers do not look at me like I’m some sort of saint when I’m at the grocery store with my kids and no husband. But people literally stop and praise my husband when he steps out with our kids and I’m not around. Have our standards for men dropped so low that we excuse them for being jerks and unqualified and choose them as husband or president anyway, because they seem to have more potential than the woman working her ass off right next to them?
It seems that so many people need that dominate male in their life to believe the world is in order and everything will be okay. But the tricky thing is that the dominant male doesn’t have to be an asshole. And the person in power doesn’t have to be a man who brags about using their social position to take advantage of others. It’s like America just married the man all the sane people in our life warned us about but we decided on him anyway because of the few people who said, “Well, you know, everyone has problems. You gotta just see it through. He makes you laugh, right?” Those clowns sure are funny. It was easier to just join the apparent masses. Why ruffle any feathers? Except, in this particular case, most Americans did not choose this. Most Americans chose an option that wasn’t provided by a known abuser. And now we’re being told to “just give him a chance.”
One example of domestic violence is: “A pattern of purposeful behavior, directed at achieving compliance from or control over the victim.” Donald Trump and his refusal to hold press conferences and his public bashings of journalists and anyone else who has ever disagreed with him or questioned his motives are a clear cut example of what type of presidency we are in for. He will put down democrats publicly while applauding a known tyrant, Putin. He will try to delegitimize news publications and tv shows for showing him in any light other than the one he prefers. During his rallies he publicly and undeniably welcomed violence against people who spoke against him. None of this is a secret. Take a quick look at his Twitter account. He hides it only by manipulation and giving somewhat of a bare minimum to say he’s doing something and anyone who complains is ungrateful. And saying he’s doing the bare minimum is incredibly generous and only possible because we’ve lowered the bar nearly to the ground for him to be elected. So why did I think that people who excuse abusive behaviors everyday would actually hold a man accountable for his actions? This must be why my shock after the election didn’t come from Donald winning but from the 53% of white women that voted for him.
I’m thankful I separated myself from believing to remain meek and your problems will go away. I’ve learned who to separate myself from and who to continue to grow stronger with. I’ve been validated in the life choices I’ve made for myself. Just as others have shown me their colors, I’ve waved mine freely. I know there are many people who do not agree with me. I know that I’ve pissed some people off through this past year. Yet I’ve become more confident in my views of the world. I’ve become more confident that I am taking the right path to make this world just a little bit better, a little more each day. I’ve become more thankful that my brain is wired to see the good, to research the uncertain, and to make decisions based on logic. And because of that, I’m thankful for what I’ve gained in this messed up making of Trumpland. It’s good to know who your people truly are.
However America’s relationship with our next president goes, I’m thankful it is one that will definitely end in divorce. And until that day comes, I hope there’s a lot of counseling and fair compromise that takes place so that we’re not all walking around bruised and battered while he’s off making lewd jokes. We all know that guy. And now we’re all going to see that guy for at least four more years. And I have no intention on going silent and acting as if this is all normal.
If you are in an abusive relationship and feel you cannot talk to anyone you know, please reach out to the National Domestic Abuse Hotline