My Post-Election Fears Haven’t Changed: A (White) American Lesbian’s Reaction to Trump’s Win

By Camille Brown

I have had such a hard time in the last few days between my own personal fears and the reactions of people I know. My non-white friends are terrified. My friends who are immigrants (documented or not) are terrified. I have white straight friends my age saying ‘it will all be okay’ and older white straight friends comparing this to the Bush and Regan presidencies. I have relatives who know that my cousin and I are queer and yet who voted for Donald Trump.

As a queer, feminine-presenting woman and survivor of sexual violence and sexual abuse, I’m terrified too. A rapist is our new president whose rhetoric makes me fear for my personal, everyday safety more than usual. Every time I go out in public, whether they leer, or make kissy sounds inches from my face — where I can actually feel their spit, or verbally catcall me, men violate me with their eyes and often with their words. They want to grab my pussy. My only comfort is that, at least most of the time for me so far, there is one thing or another keeping them from actually doing just that. Now, my country has elected a President who politically, figuratively, and QUITE FUCKING LITERALLY wants to grab women by the pussy. I had hope in common sense yet this popular vote biopsy of our nation has shown me just where that common sense lies. That small ‘one thing or another’ which sometimes protects me and everyone else who isn’t a cis-man is utterly gone with him in charge.

On top of all these fears for myself, I fear for my partner who, although she kicks ass at Muay Thai, is 5’2″ and 118 lbs. As a butch lesbian she is quite visibly gay and often walks home from school in our college town on the edge of multiple conservative farming communities. Trump doesn’t think people who look like her should feel safe in bathrooms. He doesn’t think people who look like her deserve to be seen as women. He thinks women who look like me — regardless of sexual orientation or consent — exist for the gratification of men. He and his followers think I am a thing to grab. His running mate, who is actually a successful politician, thinks people like us can be electrocuted until we stop being queer. I’m not going to be calm.

I’ve been out and proud for a year last Saturday and I thought I was coming out into a much safer world than generations before me. But really, I’m out in a country that can very well take away our security in owning a home someday, our right to be married, our right to adopt a child, our rights to personal safety.

I can’t talk or write about this without being moved to tears. I’ve broken down in all my college classes since Tuesday night. If I feel this way I can’t imagine how people of colour, people who aren’t cisgendered, people who are undocumented immigrants, people who rely on Obamacare, people who rely on Planned Parenthood, and the countless others who are threatened by Trump’s rhetoric, must feel.

President Trump: Reactions to the US Election (Part 2)

Today

Today I wept. I wept for all of the survivors.
I wept for
This
Present
Moment.
I wept for the message blaring out into the ether
as the numbers wormed towards 270,
oozing but booming,
And each time reminding:

“We. Condone. This.”

The numbers kept creeping
10 Complete and utter lack of knowledge
20 No taxes/Yes lawsuits/Thanks, Dad.
50 Misogyny/Misogynoir
100 “There has to be a religious test”
150 Ban Gay Marriage.
200 Incite Violence
220 Sexual Violence
250 Racial Violence
270 Ableism-bigotry-grab-her-by-the- pussy-they-rip-it-from-the-womb-where’s-your-birth-certificate-eating-machine-build-a-wall-no-Muslims-you’re–fired
You’re Hired.
…We rubber stamped this guy?

We took everything we knew about him, and we said, “That’s okay by me”?

……………………………………….?

I know things will get better. I know that this will push some people to finally say, “I need help, too.” “This isn’t ok with me either.” And we will dig in our heels and lock arms and move forward.

But today?
I wept today.

Meredith, based in Chicago

*

I think more than anything, the victory of Trump goes to show that we are a long way off the achievement of gender equality. How a man can be elected president having incited such hatred towards women, objectified them to such an extent, and spoken out so openly against their legal, maternal and bodily rights is truly terrifying.

The disproportionate amount of women who voted in his favour, regardless of this bigotry, goes to show the dire need for greater discussion of gender issues and evidence of their reality. I hope the women of America do not suffer to the extent that I fear they will. Hopefully his sickening combination of racism, sexism and homophobia does not translate into even greater struggles for women of other minority groups too, for I am sure they are those most at risk in Trump’s America.

Ellen Jones, student at the University of Bristol

*

I feel this so personally. My daughters are growing up in this world. With the changes global society has started to see, of people becoming more accepting of different races cultures and sexualities, of racism and sexism being condemned slowly more and more, it felt as though we were on a slow but positive trajectory. The possibility that my daughters may face their adulthood powerful and free was within grasp. Hillary could have been the PoTUS of their childhood, and that could have led to events which defined their generation as Femennials or something. But the American voters have taken this away from them, away from us, not simply by voting in another boring old white guy, but by sinking to very low depths and going to extraordinary lengths to prove just how sexist the world still truly is. And that hurts. Personally.

Noa Sasson-Brooks, based in England 

*

I am no expert in US politics (though I do watch VEEP) but as a former student of Political Science and IR, I am trying to keep up with important events in ‘international’ politics. There are so many horrible things that happened during this American election that I don’t even know where to start. I do know that, sadly, this proves why feminism is still very much needed. Oh yes, my friends, we have not finished, we have barely even started.

Racism, chauvinism, LGBT+phobia, xenophobia and other evils which have been invented by humanity — we thought that we would be able to reduce them. But in practice, these things did not disappear — they just became silent. Many (I am afraid to think that it is most) people learn over time that, in order to avoid shaming, it means that they do not just need to stop saying offensive things out loud but they need to stop thinking these things too. It breaks my heart when I realise that people who believe in equality, justice, human rights and women’s rights are marginal in this world. We are the minority who are fighting for our right to support human rights.

I want to offer my condolences to the Americans who did not vote for Trump based on my experience. It’s hard and it is going to be harder. Every step that your government takes will tear a piece of your soul so that eventually you will become completely alienated from your country and start to think about it as something that happens far away from you. Just take a look at the people who worked with Trump along this election. How many of them are white? How many of them are men? Take a closer look now because some of them will be nominated into key positions in his government. Toto, we’re not in Obama’s regime anymore. The good news for you is that he will not be President for more than 8 years.

Goodbye Barak Obama, I will truly miss you.

Jane Derishu, based in Israel 

*

The prospect of the first female US president brought tears to my eyes. I am not even American, but as a woman and a global citizen I was aware of what it could mean. We saw a woman who stood by her husband’s side and lived in his shadow her entire life. A woman who, when she was allowed to stand front and centre, managed to shine bright by her own merits. But then we saw that not everyone took her seriously, some believed her flawed just for being a woman. After the results, I was impressed — the US is a lot more sexist and racist than I thought.

Many may say that she didn’t loose because she is a woman, but the fact is, it is one of the reasons she lost. There is a huge cultural problem worldwide: women are not taken as seriously as men, women are not considered as trustworthy as men, women are not believed to be as capable as men.

I thought the election would be the beginning of a period of change. I am from Latin America, women have been presidents in various countries in the region, but the first US female president had a different meaning. As much as we want to deny it, we still see the US as a land of hope, and I hoped that the US example would help to lower the macho culture we have in the region. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I am both confused and disappointed.

Majo Guevara, based in Ecuador

President Trump: Reactions to the US Election (Part 1)

Yesterday, just a few hours after the result of the US Election and while the wounds were still so painfully fresh, I sent out an urgent email to the writers of Gender and the City, asking for their comments on the election of Donald Trump. I recognise that while much of the world is in a period of morning over the result, many do not simply wish to grieve. What we have learnt from this election is that this a time for marginalised voices to be heard more loudly than ever.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I asked how on earth it was possible that a sexually predatory, racially discriminative, inflammatory, destructive and callous bigot was in the final two to take one of the highest positions of office in the world. Now, in my devastation and disgust, my questions have only been multiplied. When I asked our Managing Editor, Ali, for her comments for this article she said ‘Why?’ I began to explain my rationale, only for her to clarify — ‘That’s my response,’ she said, ‘Why? Just why?’ I think it’s fair to say that’s a question on a lot of our minds.

The comments we received back from all across the world were a combination of thoughtful, impassioned, shocked, fearful and hopeful. And although many have the inclination to blame, our time is better spent on reflection. I was overwhelmed and inspired by what we received, so much so that we’ll be publishing this piece in multiple parts over the next week. I implore you to read until the end.

Kaammini Chanrai, Founder and Editor-in-Chief 

*

I spent last night, and woke up today, in an environment of shock, horror, fear, and heaviness suspended like the clouds over DC after Donald Trump was elected.

As a woman, a person of colour, and someone with a sensory disability, it feels deeply personal for me, as I know it does for many. Of course, my instincts are telling me to scream, run, or break something, but I don’t want to make room in my life for that level of hatred. I can’t and won’t let that bitterness about a particular personality sully my outlook on the country’s future, the climate’s future, and the future of social issues I care so deeply about.

I commit to working to fight against the bigotry, racism, sexism, and cruelty that Trump’s campaign represents. And I also commit to continuing to count my blessings every day, reconnecting with my intention to bring joy into this world for all creatures, and thinking about how I can act with dignity and purpose. Now more than ever, we can’t forget to never acquiesce to hatred of another being, no matter how tempting. And never forget that love, service, honesty, and grace win.

Camilla Nawaz, based in Washington DC

*

Now that the tears have dried and the storm has passed, can we talk for a moment about why Trump was, against all odds, chosen by almost 60 million Americans?

A tsunami of nativist, anti-establishment sentiment has swept not just the US but the wider western world, showing no signs of slowing as we democratically embrace political leaders that mirror horror movie characters. It’s hardly a surprise: groups in society feel increasingly unrepresented and marginalised, incumbent leaders have failed to correct the unequal distribution of benefits that come from increased openness, and the mainstream has been complacent in the face of this anti-status quo movement. More should have been done to aid the ‘losers’ of globalisation – it is lamentable that America spends a pathetic 0.1% of GDP, one sixth of the rich country average, on policies to retrain workers who have lost their jobs through trade and technology. But these trends apply not just to the US but also the UK (Brexit), France (National Front), Germany (AfD), and heavens knows where else.

The country in which I currently reside will soon have at its helm a President with the ability and inclination to start a conflagration of destructive proportions; a man whose unwavering disdain for women, minorities, and civil liberties is evident in not just his rhetoric but also in his actions. Grave danger faces large groups of society if Trump executes even half of his pre-election promises: to repeal Obamacare, scrap NAFTA, ban Muslims from entering the country, cut abortion funding, cancel The Paris Accord. The New Yorker goes so far as to declare the result “The American Tragedy”.

However, we should refrain from indulging in doom and gloom predictions; instead, we must look for a silver lining. Stock markets have not been rattled. Republicans control both houses but Trump has been rejected by many senior members of his party, meaning he could face a tough order of opposition from Congress. He may turn out to be a foreign policy realist and strengthen US-Russia relations, which could more reliably guarantee European security than the status quo. He may surround himself with pragmatic, intelligent advisors and perhaps listen to them occasionally. Most importantly, his presidency may shake the establishment out of its crippling complacency. It is pertinent to point out that the polls, prognosticators, and politicians all underestimated the magnitude of dissatisfaction of the US electorate.

Although I am unimaginably disheartened by Hillary’s loss, I take solace in the fact that, throughout 2016, the world has witnessed women rising from the political ashes of men. Hillary Clinton has made history. Her tenacity, grace, and iron will is an inspiration to all women, showing us that, one day, we will be able to shatter the glass ceiling. HRC may not be the winner this week but she is still a champion. I was, am, and will always be, #wither.

Shakira Chanrai, based in North Carolina

*

Like the EU Referendum, I was determined to stay up all night to witness what I was so sure would be the triumph of sane, compassionate and open-minded people against those who respond to prejudice, ignorance and unsubstantiated rhetoric.

Like the EU Referendum, I was worried by 1am, panicked by 2am and outright despairing by 4am.

My thoughts, as a ‘Remain’ voter in Brexit Britain, and as an LGBT+ woman, go out to Democrat voters in the US, and to women, people of colour, and the LGBT+ and immigrant communities alike. You have trying times ahead, but so much of the international community is with you.

Today is already in the history books and we cannot change that now. But what comes next is something we have some say in.

Do not lash out at Trump voters as so many ‘Remainers’ in the UK did to Brexit voters, including myself at times. Talk to each other. Do not exacerbate the chasm between you that Trump has already so successfully carved out. Understand each others fears and educate yourselves.

This, I believe, is the most powerful way to resist the spread of prejudice and misinformation that has taken root.

Emily Faint

*

In a sentence:  the return of Nativism as demographics are changing fast.

Like most, I haven’t really processed it fully. A large part of me isn’t prepared to believe the words ‘President-Elect Trump’ when they appear on the news, as we’re a part of some sick joke. I really feel for Hillary, and mourn the chance for having come so close to a female president and missed. But this is far more than just a symbolic loss; the futures of minorities and some women have been jeopardized by what has effectively been the final death rattle of a certain type of white people. This may well be the last time they can do it before demographics relegate them to merely being another minority, which is in a way heartening – unlike Brexit, where there is no such future demographic certainty.

Alongside watching Hillary’s concession speech I would heavily recommend listening to a brief segment by CNN’s Van Jones, which encapsulates the mood of fear that many have at the moment. He speaks of this election as being a nativist ‘White-Lash’, and in a lot of ways I am more prepared to buy that argument than the capitalist critique that is making the rounds that these were the downtrodden and “forgotten” of our liberal system. In support of this is exit poll data from the New York Times, which indicates that Clinton won a majority of voters from the lowest two income brackets quite convincingly, whilst Trump performed better or almost as well with voters in the middle and upper brackets. Also supporting this is the fact that the two most important issues for Trump supporters were immigration and terrorism – neither of which feed into this ‘people left behind’ theory. I’m in no doubt that this is a nativist revolt rather than anything else. Perhaps that’s a way of explaining how Trump won a majority of white women: for them, race trumped (sorry) any notion of misogyny- he could bring their country back to them regardless of how many ‘pussies’ he grabbed.

Compounding this, Trump now has an open goal to enact any policy he wants. I do think that Trump isn’t too interested in policy and is at heart a pragmatist, which should relieve me, except for the fact that the Republicans he surrounds himself with and those in Congress are insane- and he’s somehow managed to put them in power. The problem with Trump is temperament and not policy, because he has no real policy. The problem with the Republican Party is ideology, and they have now somehow been elevated to all three branches of government without any reckoning for the 8 years of mischief they have pursued. They will make a big effort to repeal Obamacare, and you can bet that with a Supreme Court nomination there will be many rollbacks in LGBT+ rights, women’s rights, immigration and affirmative action.

Like I said earlier, I’m not as scared for the future of America as I am the UK. Even if a wall is built it is almost a certainty that the US will be significantly more diverse in the future, and that reactionary, racist votes like this are the last gasp of the old guard as the country moves forward (painful though it is). With the UK I am less certain because there really isn’t anything to indicate that we will change demographically, nothing to say we will be more diverse or younger – we risk greater stagnation than the US under Trump. Scary times ahead.

Nikhil Subbiah, based in England