Who knew that when Donald Trump promised to create jobs he meant for the mental health industry? Shrinks are on speed dial. From casting couch to therapy couch.
We’ll take it, though. In some warped way, it’s a silver lining.
As we crossed over the year mark that this country inexplicably put this president into office, I’ve been thinking a lot about all the sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations that are bubbling up on a daily basis. So much buried anguish surfacing and bringing fresh pain. Ripple effects keep coming in seemingly never-ending waves. Another victim. Another accused. Men who expose themselves. Men who exploit powerful positions. Men who rape. Men who cajole via word and deed.
On some level I want to issue a big thank you to our esteemed president, for he has unwittingly set the tone for this uprising. A Hillary Clinton presidency would have us in a very different place, of course. Certain legislative progress that would benefit a wide range of Americans. Definitely less embarrassment of how we’re being represented both here and abroad. More and better sleep for a lot of us.
But would we have had the mostly gender-based upheaval we’re experiencing now? I don’t think so.
Let’s assume Harvey Weinstein would have still been exposed by The New York Times and The New Yorker. We would have likely attributed it to the climate set by our first female president. But just maybe it would be less contagious, more contained or isolated, because the anger wouldn’t be as acute. The fact that one of these guys could still get elected president keeps coming up. It’s a driver for the dialogue. The rage is festering one minute, finding voice the next, from so many corners of our country.
A lot of people criticized the Women’s March last January as a big nothing. Wow, you wore some pink hats and you had your feel-good moment. But what did you really accomplish?
Open your eyes. See it. We call it mobilization.
We’ve had it.
Stop crushing our souls. We need to be heard, believed. We walk home at night or to our cars in parking lots wishing we had eyes in the back of our heads. We walk briskly, consciously make sure we’re looking confident and not vulnerable. We learned to put our keys between our fingers as a weapon almost as soon as we got our driver’s license. It’s exhausting and real.
I try to see the big picture, even in situations as unsettling as having this president in office. The larger scenario is finally starting to emerge. If we’d ushered Hillary in, would it have just been a repeat of how we deluded ourselves on our progress when we elected Barack Obama? Remember how we thought that meant we’d made a dent in racism? The backlash to our first black president has been staggering. A Hillary presidency may have had us kidding ourselves about the progress women have made, too.
But this guy, this swaggering, self-declared ladies’ man who reduces us to our faces and genitals, he’s forcing us to speak. Scream, even. We have found our collective voice.
Get your hands off us unless we have indicated we are digging you, too. Don’t use your position of power to make us uncomfortable or, worse, to put conditions on our employment. Don’t threaten us to keep our mouths shut or else. Don’t assume because we haven’t revealed your nasty behavior in a few decades that we never will.
Now you mess with us at your own peril.
It’s all so disconcerting, but it’s supposed to be happening. That’s how it feels now. We don’t heal from submerged pain. We don’t awaken as a nation if we are merrily embracing the status quo, afraid to shake things up.
All we can do now is hold on tight, keep speaking out, and hear each other instead of questioning motives and timing. This is our moment to rise up out of victimhood and stake our claim to a country that has been putting us in our place for way too long.
Trump will keep kicking us in the teeth for a while. It’s a given.
But he has also bestowed upon us an atmosphere that begs us to resist like crazy. We have heeded the call.