Our collective hearts were in our stomachs last night as we watched the country get redder and redder. By midnight America’s decision, while not reflective of the popular vote, was clear; Donald J Trump would be our 45th president. Social media panicked, people crashed the Canadian immigration website, and a palpable mix of disbelief, fear and anxiety, swept over so many American citizens. Even Trump supporters were surprised, as this upset was one for the books.
We are not political analysts, so we cannot pretend to understand why things went so wildly awry from the predictions of virtually every media network. We are, however, supporters and champions of women, and we feel compelled to reflect on what happened on Election Day 2016, and its ramifications for women and minorities in this country.
We can’t help but wonder what would have happened if Hillary Clinton were a man. Would this have been the landslide the media predicted? Could it be that the race’s extra X chromosome was the unsaid factor that swayed results so far from what they should have been?
Or perhaps Trump was elected because he represents the much-heralded 1980s version of the American male ideal; a wealthy, womanizing, arrogant businessman with a dirty mouth. Suffice to say many men aspire to be Gordon Gekko and perhaps a Trump presidency was their way to feel like a wolf on Wall Street, from the vista of their tiny rural town.
America is clearly not ready yet for a woman to step into the most important job in our nation. Regardless of your opinions on her policies, Hillary has a lifetime of political experience, a lifetime commitment to helping children, women, minorities and small business alike. Was she perfect? No. But damn, she was at least qualified. Despite her decades of public work, we instead elected a man, a very rich man who has never served or fought for the rights of another human being in his life.
We are of course respectful of the political process and are prepared to accept the results of this or any free election, but we cannot hide our shock that a person who has never participated in even the most small-town governance, or held any kind of political office could be elected over such a capable woman. Like her or not, she has been training for this her whole life. She was ready and we were ready. But, like what happens so much in the business world—where only 4 percent of women have CEO roles in Fortune 500 companies—the rich White guy got the top job.
America, we want you to know that we feel your pain. We too want to wear black and go open a quaint bed and breakfast in Ontario, but we have to rally now more than ever.
We have to protect the country we love, the freedoms we have, and we must remind ourselves that this is still the best place in the world to live. We also must accept the voices of our fellow Americans, regardless of the loss we feel, regardless of the fear we have, and we have to rise. Like air, we have to rise.
Remember this; having Trump as our president does not mean we suddenly become like him or condone the abhorrent way he speaks to and about women. It does not dictate our morality or in any way erase the undeniable, communal exuberance we've felt during recent unprecedented events in this country--like the legalization of gay marriage and the opening of the Cuban borders. The vast majority of us share none of Trump’s social views or personal opinions (even many of those who voted for him), and instead are representative of the wave of tolerance we have been riding. We must continue its swell, regardless of who sits in the Oval Office. It's true, we will be more challenged to continue the battle for equality and peace, but this has happened before in the United States, and love will always win. Plus, more than half the country is already on the same page.
Remember, while we have to accept Trump, we do not have to accept his social policies or his alarmist worldview. We have our Constitutional rights and the precious freedom to fight against aggressive, intolerant diatribe through non-violent protest. Let us reflect on how our American heroes reacted to times that incensed them throughout our history. Yes, they got angry, yes, they cried, but they were not defeated. Instead they stood, they rallied, they marched, they changed laws. It took time, it took patience, it took a steadfast dedication to fighting for what is right. Hope is not lost, that is unless we give up. Trump may be our President-Elect, but he is not our moral compass. Let’s not forget all the work we’ve done, all the strides we’ve made. Throughout these next four years, there is so much opportunity for modern heroes to rise, and for us to continue the work we've started. Let's support these peaceful voices.
To our fellow women, let’s summon the courage and strength of our ground-breaking, badass suffragettes who fought for rights that seemed impossible at the time. Let’s think of people like Susan B. Anthony and Martin Luther King and their relentless refusal to accept injustice. Let's also realize how much support they had, how effective they were at creating change, and that history repeats itself. Only this time let’s be louder, because our voices must penetrate those thick White House walls post-haste.
We may have Trump for the next four years, but our greater journey to a truly equal America is so much longer than that. Don’t mourn. Begin the healing process now. Then get up and fight. We've come too far to go back now.
Dr. Victoria Bateman, an esteemed economist best known for her nude protests for gender equality, uses her body as a form of art that serves to challenge the stigma around women's bodies and women's rights, in the world of economics. In March 2018, Bateman attended the annual conference of the Royal Economic Society in Brighton stark naked with the word "respect" written across her chest and stomach. Unbashful in delivering her message, Bateman was determined to start a conversation.