Women didn’t miraculously wake up one morning and decide they were going to ask to have the same economic, political and social rights as men. It has been happening over the course of America’s history. It did not suddenly become a trend. It did however become more socially acceptable to pronounce in the last ten years or so. I do not see this as a coincidence.
I have seen the country and women rallying together to acknowledge and empower one another. I see this as a byproduct of an African American President and a strong and courageous FLOTUS. I am scared as a woman, because the President elect does not feel this way about women. And when this happens, young women will listen to him.
I remember ten years ago when I would not have called myself a feminist, which is CRAZY to look back and reflect on. A fellow student even interviewed me about it at one point in high school, and I told them no, that I was not a feminist. But I realize this was something that I learned to say.
The realities of my experiences as a black young adult woman in a majority white, suburban neighborhood did not reflect my sentiments toward the word: feminist. And yet—I still went on declaring that feminist, I was not. The reality is that I was not self-aware at that age, and I was easily swayed to think and feel as I was told. At fourteen, I was not educated enough.
Women are taught this ideal. They are taught to suppress how they feel. They are taught to adopt the perspective of the leader of the powerful patriarch. And this is why I am scared.
I grew up and grew into my understanding of myself. But I did so because there were people in my life that validated my race, my sex, my sexual orientation, my religious beliefs and my right to think. I am scared of the world that young women and trans* folk will live in.
I am scared, and find it difficult to come to terms with Donald Trump as our President elect. I am scared that those young people may not have the same support I did. They may grow to hate themselves and never grow out of it like I eventually did.
I remember when people said hurtful things to me throughout my life. I also remember and mourn the pain that I inflicted on others by saying hurtful things. For this reason, I know that this is not going to be easy work. For this reason, I know that as a woman of color, I cannot back down no matter much intimidation is used.
Women are taught to be quiet. This is illustrated in the number of times Donald Trump interjected as Hillary Clinton responded during the 2016 Presidential debates. And at fourteen years old when I was not nearly educated enough! This reality really hurt my personhood. As the polls have shown, it was the white, uneducated males that overwhelmingly voted Donald Trump into office. The same folks that cannot fully understand what it is like to be a woman in this country, because they are not women.
This is why I’m scared.
They will tell me to be quiet, and I have been conditioned to do so on command. We mustn’t listen. We must continue to take ownership of our bodies and personhood. We must continue to fight for women to have the same opportunities as men.
It will be a difficult battle that will require many forces tugging and pulling and demanding that men and women be treated equal in this country. That they be paid the same amount and not assaulted, raped, or harmed physically or verbally by men in this country. I am scared because as a woman I am at a disadvantage.
I am hopeful because the financial and social institutions of this country have always put me at a disadvantage; therefore, I know about struggle, and grief, and pain, and being uncomfortable in my skin. And I will use that knowledge to creatively rally together with those that care about my voice, my life, and my wellbeing. I will join together with those women near and far to me. We will do so because the same longing for a better world is what connects our hearts to one another. We will use that to rise up. We will use that to fuel change.
For information about suicide prevention or to speak with someone confidentially, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255 or the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. Both provide free,anonymous support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.