The Gendered Experience of Time and Numbers

The extent to which women are conditioned to position their identity in numbers deeply upsets me. Shopping with female friends and family often sticking to your given number. Your given identity. If women have to try a larger size, they are conditioned to feel shame. The larger size is said as if it is a dirty word. The larger size is incomprehensible.

By Freya Turner

The extent to which women are conditioned to position their identity in numbers deeply upsets me. Shopping with female friends and family often sticking to your given number. Your given identity. If women have to try a larger size, they are conditioned to feel shame. The larger size is said as if it is a dirty word. The larger size is incomprehensible. The clothes shopping experience isn’t intuitive. It isn’t about holding an item up to the body and seeing how it looks and feels. It’s instead carried out through a prescribed number with huge significance. But of course this number has no inherent human meaning. The meaning behind this number is faux, established only by the marketing, fashion and beauty industries.

Our experiences are coloured by undefinable, subjective movements that are ever changing and shifting. Our body shape alters over the course of a day due to what we’ve fuelled it with. It changes due to our cycle and hormones. We can have a different body shape from one year to the next depending on the type of exercise that we’ve been enjoying at any certain time. Why are we still finding value in a compartmentalised unit, a category, and in self-branding? We do this because it is easy; it transforms our experience into one that is recognisable and relatable to society. However, subjectivity is complex and difficult. Of course, we also find value in a clothing size because we see what sizes are available and we make judgements on where we fit in those available or unavailable sizes.

The woman’s experience is defined by a spectrum of units, where every part of our existence is precisely definable, dated, and set within boundaries, unlike the male identifying experience. The majority of men’s sizes occur in some version of small, medium or large, with trouser sizes defined in waist measurements. Men have a somewhat meaningful language to describe their clothing, along with a scale that reflects the truth. Women experience clothing their body through an arbitrary scale that is unrelated to body measurements. The industry for planners, diaries, organisers, calendars and lists is huge, and the majority of it is marketed towards women. This perpetuates the idea that women must log, sensibly plan, and organise their lives in secret, inaudible, and beautiful ways. Those who identify as men are barely a part of this world.

It used to be commonplace for women to ask whether their bums looked big in something. Now we barely hear it. Now women pay money to get bigger bums. Whether that’s through gym memberships or surgeries, people are paying to the look. Women’s ideal body types change all the time. Our bodies are commodified, dated trends.

Think about one of the most recent women’s razor adverts, where we are sold three different razors for three different sides of you. Women’s bodies, personalities, and day to day experiences are things to endlessly measure and label as if they are a material item. This is happening whilst it is becoming more commonplace for women and men’s experiences to be tracked and compartmentalised, through the spread of new technology. Myfitnesspal and fitbits have taken the fitness industry by storm. Youtubers share their daily or weekly eating and fitness routines with their followers. The same thing happens on Instagram. It seems like it is more vital than ever before to measure the productivity of our bodies and share it with others. But the way this rhetoric is shaped and used is gendered. Online influencers who are in the wellness/fitness area are predominantly women. The majority of Myfitnesspal users are women. The majority of Instagram users are women.

Women are expressing themselves through these platforms, but it is done in a way that limits their experience. For example, the language of wellbeing often involves words like ‘clean’ and a string of hashtags. Women, conscious of this or not, are believing the false idea that we must oblige to compartmentalise our experiences into single words. This is a sign that women still lack the sense of autonomy, spontaneity, and expression that men do.

Also, this ties into the issue of time. Men are more able to live their lives feeling as if they have time on their sides. Women, on the other hand, will be more likely to feel as if they are on the wrong side of time. This is because in Western society in 2017 it is still a common perception that when women age, they become invisible, resentful, and worthless. And if women decide to have children, they then risk triggering the end their own autonomy. They lose themselves, their time and even their own names as they become ‘mothers’. Employers still fire pregnant women, and rearing children still entails mothers joining an institution where it is commonplace for women to do the majority of the unpaid, intensive childcare and emotional labour. Women are painfully aware that with age comes disadvantages and distrust from others. All the more reason to get more organised and use a weekly planner.

What I have found particularly disturbing recently is what I’ve heard from women who have experienced some sort of body change; namely weight gain or loss. They find it almost incomprehensible. They feel disembodied, as if that cannot be them, and that they must revert back to what they used to be. This body change may be the result of some sort of emotional trauma, or physical illness. Regardless, she will likely punish herself, due to the guilt and shame of occupying space in a new body, through implementing a strict diet and exercise regime in order to get back to ‘herself’. God forbid that a woman does the amazing feat of having a baby and has a body which has grown in size to enable and support the entire process. She must lose the baby weight, of course! Erase your body’s ability and adaptability. Why is this still happening?

But we are societies who, in reality, are inflexible about identity. In the era of the individual, where the individual is free in the midst of a disjointed, disparate political society, it is no wonder that we are seeking to say something about ourselves in a way that is audible and comprehensible to others. We want our identities to be consistent and definable because it seems like that is the only way that they can be noticed. This works paradoxically for women, for the more that they self express through the numbers of their bodies and experiences, or reductive codes like hashtags, the more that they are exposing the instilled belief that women must be kept an eye on, tracked, and defined. A woman’s true experience is defined by subjective changes but we are not happy with this. We are playing a numbers game which cannot grant us our freedom.

***

About the Author

Freya is a recent English literature graduate from UEA, where she specialised in reading minority cultures, political writing, urbanisation, alongside being generally cynical about modern life. She has been curious about gender representations since a young teenager, and over the past year has experimented with writing to set out her thoughts on feminism and gender through monologue, poetry, short story, and a creative-critical style. She has recently enjoyed working in the arts, through a radio station and a national archive, publicising literary organisations and material. She is an advocate of Europe and urges students in higher education to study abroad.

 

Review of The Beguiled: Standing Up for Female Voices in Cinema

By Dean Pettipher

The Beguiled

Directed by Sofia Coppola

Written by Thomas Cullinan (based on the novel by), Albert Maltz (based on the screenplay by), Irene Kamp (based on the screenplay by) Sofia Coppola.

Starring Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning & Colin Farrell

Barely two months have passed since the seventieth annual Cannes Film Festival and Sofia Coppola’s historic achievement as the second woman ever to win the award for Best Director. This was accorded for helming the enchanting motion picture masterpiece The Beguiled (2017). In the wake of recent discussions highlighting significant gender inequality within the film industry (see Jennifer Lawrence’s wage gap essay published in 2015) Coppola’s latest movie is crucial for maintaining the momentum towards a totally level cinematic stage. The Beguiled enchants, not just because it was directed by a woman, but principally due to a truly excellent collaboration that has brought about one of the most finely-crafted films so far this year. Thus, the various rewards earned for such efforts do not feel like tokenistic virtue-signalling by fake officials.

The primary sources for Coppola’s adaptation were composed by men. There was another movie, also entitled The Beguiled (1971), directed by Don Siegel. There was, of course, also the novel that started it all, written by Thomas Cullinan and first published in 1966, initially titled A Painted Devil. Not least because of the elegant exploration of the passions that men and women share as human beings, Coppola’s latest movie is a believable illustration that a film with a female gaze at its heart can be as good, if not better, than those that have been projected with a male lens.

The acting is superb. Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning in particular shine in their respective roles within the nineteenth century Virginian girls’ school. They each create their own uniquely compelling chemistry with Colin Farrell’s ostensibly charming character, a Union soldier, who desperately seeks sanctuary from the ravages of the American Civil War. Coppola’s script sizzles with tension in all its guises, courtesy of often cut-throat dialogue at the dinner table. The tension generally remains defiant when the dialogue gives way to action, thanks to some graceful and occasionally swift camerawork. While at times dulled a little by repetitiveness, the cinematography emerges triumphantly gorgeous in capturing the beauty of the white palaces situated upon the Southern plantations. The costumes thrive off of their intricate details; the women appear unquestionably fabulous in glossy dresses, and the guy that they aspire to impress looks pretty damn dashing as well. Consequently, the trill of the tale lies, to a great extent, in assessing which character is having the greater effect on their object of affection. All seem capable of rousing a state of limerence within those of the opposite sex, or at least prompting them to uncontrollably quiver in his or her presence.

The magic of the film fades not infrequently, but on each occasion quickly re-surfaces before the audience is lost. Kidman’s Southern accent slips from time to time, but fortunately not enough to tarnish her undeniably commanding presence and mellifluous voice. Perhaps the respective characters portrayed by Dunst and Fanning could have had their personal pursuits with Farrell’s character further developed through their dialogue, so that the stakes could have felt that much higher. On the other hand, a lot is communicated through both extremely subtle and very explicit displays of body language, which successfully maintain the central mysteries surrounding individual character motivations.

Ultimately, The Beguiled can seduce an audience. While Coppola’s Best Director prize is a well-deserved accolade, in the end, one must be more concerned about the opportunity than the awards. Women, like men, deserve to be given the chance to take the risk with their artistic visions in film and beyond. The Beguiled and Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman (2017) are just two recent examples of that risk paying off both financially and in terms of positive social change.

Any drama set during the American Civil War will prompt audiences to consider the other tragic inequalities that plagued that period. During this film, they would then notice how those inequities appear to have been omitted almost entirely, as the film focuses on a particular set of female perspectives. Some have even ventured towards firm convictions that this is racism and whitewashing, elevating the image of the ‘Southern Belle’; of which many feel is a racist fiction. This is a useful criticism, which ties into the fact that feminist narratives must continue to reflect the intersectionality of modern feminism. However, it is still valuable to see the empowerment of female points of view. Therefore, this film does of course have flaws, but as Leo Tolstoy wrote in Anna Karenin, ‘if you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.’

THE VERDICT: 9/10

***

About the Author

Born in South Africa and raised in England, Dean studied for a bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Chichester. For the second year of this endeavour, he took part in a one-year student exchange programme at Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia, Canada. Dean later obtained a PGCE in Primary Education. He is currently based in London and working for a children’s charity.
Beyond the workplace, Dean enjoys reading, going to the cinema and spending time with friends whenever possible. In addition to Canada and South Africa, countries that he has visited include the United States, Malaysia and much of Europe.

President Trump: Reflections on the US Elections (Part 3)

I can’t bring myself to watch her concession speech. Not yet. I’m not in denial, exactly; I’ve already moved through several stages of shock and anger and grief and I can say that I’m now in determined fighter mode. But that doesn’t change the fact that this was an outcome I hoped so fervently against. While I’m resigned to him being around for the next four years – please let it be only four – her steely grace and dignity in the face of this humiliating and incredulous defeat is more than I can currently bear. When I’m ready, I will watch her and I will read the full transcript of her speech, because she inspires me and because she deserves my (and our) fullest attention, today as every day. I’ve seen the headlines; I know she bowed out with a message that was so presidential, so thoughtful, so strong, that it will make me cry. I can’t bear to see her face. In her face live all the hopes she had and we had and the reminder of everything we could have had, now lost.

I wasn’t one of those cheerful millennials who thought we had this in the bag. I had a premonition, the night before Election Day, that something would transpire at the midnight hour and that we would be facing four years under the leadership of a brutish, bigoted, proudly uneducated man. I went to a yoga class and, halfway through, I tensed up even more. I left that class with a new knot in my back. Afterward, I told my boyfriend how overwhelmed I was feeling. There has been so much venom directed toward people like me during this campaign, I said. People of color. Women. Immigrants. People already marginalized, already fearful of their futures. I don’t know how we can navigate through the stain that this venom leaves behind, I said, even if she wins. I don’t feel safe anymore, I said. I said that, the night before – and he said ‘Don’t worry sweetheart, 24 hours from now, we’ll be rejoicing at this country having elected our first woman president. The most qualified candidate, the most outstanding woman, to have ever run for this office. It will be a great, great day. You’ll see.’

The morning of November 9th, it was a grey and drizzly. The streets of my neighborhood in Washington, DC were close to being empty. I passed older African-American men huddled on street corners and Latina women pushing young children in strollers. I made eye contact with several people as I passed. We exchanged nods, knowing looks, sometimes smiles. We wished each other a good day. Our faces all said: I don’t know where to go from here, I don’t know what will happen, and I’m so sad and scared. But look at me: today, I am surviving. I am putting one foot in front of the other and showing up. I am doing my best to own my life.

—-

Politics is an unfriendly sport, a fickle one, one that takes away as much as it gives. There are issues that our elected leaders debate in the halls of Congress, some of which seem removed from our everyday lives. But I know how much the decisions that Trump’s administration will make will affect how I and everyone around me lives. I know, for instance, that I need to switch to a form of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) like an IUD or implant as soon as possible. Because if Roe v. Wade is repealed, as Trump promises, I will lose my constitutional right to an abortion. I will lose an essential part of my reproductive choice. I am somewhat comforted by the knowledge that the damage the next administration will inflict on the country and the world at large will seem irreparable, but that some of it will be reparable. There are some issues, though, that can’t wait four years. Climate change is real, it is not a hoax invented by the Chinese, and we cannot afford to let petty political squabbles stall efforts to combat it and exacerbate what is already a grave and global humanitarian crisis. On climate change, we are f*****. On immigration, too. I think of all the DREAMers, who grew up in this country, who are every bit as American as my housemates, white children of Massachusetts and Indiana and Missouri. Have the DREAMers lost their chance to dream?

There’s more, of course – Muslim Americans, LGBTQ+ Americans, Americans living with disabilities. In voting in Trump, we voted out their rights to a life of dignity, safety, bodily integrity. We repudiated Obama and the legacy he worked so hard to preserve. We allowed male white supremacy to rear its ugly head. We reversed the course of history.

I am so, so devastated. I am out of words.

Priya Kvam, based in Washington DC

*

My first thought on watching the Trump victory was how this could come from the same place as Black Lives Matter. And then I realised that actually they came from exactly the same place – a place of disillusionment with the status quo. In the same way that people voted out of Europe because they were angry at the establishment people voted not for Trump but for an anti-establishment candidate. Just like black lives matter campaign against the inherent injustice of the system. The question we have to ask ourselves is why is the anti-establishment feeling is doing better when it breeds on xenephobia and misogyny, than when it breeds on respect and tolerance. My answer to that is because the liberal intelligensia classes have gotten arrogant. They believed the fight was already won, and put one of their own a  – pure breed elitest liberal – against the anti establishment candidate. We, as a collective, failed to provide an alternative anti-establishment narrative, we sat back on our laurels and assumed that we had already won. No candidate could take the black lives matter message to the mainstream, so we lost. We held onto our establishment, when the other side let the anti-establishment message ring. This is not the fault of the xenephobic elements of society, they’ve always existed, it’s the fault of everyone who believes in a different message – who failed to get that message across.

Lindsay Riddoch

*

“I can’t believe she voted for Trump – she’s a woman!” I sat back and agreed silently. Yes, as a woman I felt furious, disgusted and insulted that a man so openly sexist had just become President of the free world. Suddenly, a quiet bubbling erupted within me and I began to feel ill. Something felt wrong.

It felt wrong to me that the person sitting in front of me expected women to vote for Clinton – perhaps based on an assumption of the defiance, anger and resentment that ‘should’ be felt by the female population of voters. It echoed too the roaring assumption that voters ‘should’ support the candidate that most resembles their narrowly defined stereotypes and ‘tick the box’ characteristics. And perhaps even more worryingly, it underlined the assumption that voting for one’s benefit ‘should’ come before voting for the future of one’s society.

And perhaps, after all, that was the big downfall of the polls, which predicted greater numbers of women voting for Clinton, and lesser number of Muslims, Asians and Hispanics voting for Trump. The failure to look beneath the surface and into who people really are is the reason for the wave of shock that gripped the world as Trump’s states ticked over the line. But if there is one positive take away from this event, it’s the blindingly obvious demonstration that people are more than what they appear to be on paper. That ‘she’ and ‘he’ are more than a ‘woman’ or a ‘man, ‘Muslim’ or ‘Catholic’, ‘white’ or African-American’. They are, above all, individuals – each with their own visions, hopes and fears. And that they are larger, louder and more powerful than the boxes that we confine them to.

Kiara Alves, based in England

*

It’s a depressing state of affairs. A presidential race in which a candidate with years of political experience loses against someone without any experience, who is facing numerous accusations of sexual assault and rape, and whose campaign has been based on bullying, sexism and racism.

It has been pointed out that Clinton is in fact set to win the popular vote but, ignoring the bizarre American electoral system, this should have been irrelevant. Against such a candidate she should have won by a landslide. Why didn’t she?

I think there were myriad reasons for the result – disillusionment with the “establishment”, the email scandal, America’s love of celebrity. But what is most interesting is the gender dynamic. I think Clinton and her team took for granted winning votes simply for virtue of her being a woman, which proved not to be the case.

I would, of course, have loved to have the first female president, but wouldn’t vote for someone solely for this reason (I would have voted for her as a Democrat and against Trump, obviously). And for many, her gender would either be an irrelevance or an active deterrent, therefore her campaign should have made more solid arguments beyond this.

The Democrats’ focus on her as a woman has then meant that post-election debate has started to question “Is America ready for a female president?” when this isn’t the issue at all. Clinton, as a person, and her campaign, had issues irrespective of her gender.

For me, however, the most depressing take home from the result is that, while people aren’t prepared vote for someone solely because they are a woman, to break “the ultimate glass ceiling”, they are seemingly prepared to ignore rampant misogyny, sex crimes and racism when they make their vote.

Emily Morrison

*

“Never forget that a political, economical or religious crisis is enough to cast doubt on women’s rights. These rights will never be vested. You have to stay vigilant your whole life” – Simone de Beauvoir

8th November 2016 was always going to be a historic day for the United States: I was convinced that the American people would elect their first female President: Hillary Clinton. How wrong I was… After a very long night, which rapidly turned into a nightmare, the entire world found out that Donald Trump would become the 45th President of the United States. I was deeply shocked and terrified. How is it possible that a xenophobic, racist, violent, misogynistic billionaire will lead the United States from the 20th January 2017?

The American elections are a disgrace and a severe endangerment for women’s rights. The appalling result is a step backward for women in the United States and all around the world. However, I am convinced that we – women and men – who believe in inclusiveness and equality will keep fighting for our rights.  As Simone de Beauvoir said in 1949, there always will be crises that will affect women’s rights. She wrote this 60 years ago, but it is been true for almost all of human history, and it is even truer today. The fight carries on and it is up to us to fight it.

Apolline Parel

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