What This Election Means for Our Girls | Post-Election Thoughts

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I am a feminist. This doesn’t make me crazy or overly aggressive. It simply means that I believe that men and women are equal and should be treated like they are. I grew up with a working mother and a feminist father and attended an all-girls school: I knew women could run the world because I saw it every day. To me, it’s a given that men and women are equals.

 

Before June 16, 2015, I strongly believed that America was headed toward gender equality. Every day I saw girls around me making huge strides in a world once dominated by men. However, June 16th was no ordinary day. Inside Trump Tower in Manhattan, Donald J. Trump announced his candidacy for President of the United States of America. He famously descended the escalator with Melania and started one of the biggest movements our country has ever seen. “Take back our country”, or “Make America great again” he said. These slogans raised questions from many. Who had our country if not us? When was America great? Was it not currently great? I was not a fan of Trump’s messages that excluded minorities. It seemed as though he was deepening the already large gashes that divided the American public. Our country was already separated by party, race, religion, gender, and region. Was there any point in encouraging the separation? One phrase has stuck with me throughout this election season: United we stand, divided we fall. Was Trump facilitating our fall through placing emphasis on what divides us rather on what unites us?

 

Fast-forward through a whirlwind primary season. Bernie Sanders rises and falls as Trump takes on half of the Republican Party who run against him as candidates for President. He wins by big margins and turns his focus to Hillary in November. Throughout this time, what most of us, myself included, never realized is that by treating Trump as a joke or publicity stunt, as I did, we enabled him to become President. By never granting him legitimacy, we allowed him to come from behind in a stunning victory over Hillary Clinton.

 

Trump in the White House, with his hands on the nuclear codes is the new reality. But what does it mean for our girls? That’s right, the ones who will suffer from  the effects of our new President will be the young women in the country. We grew up in a world where we were told we could do or be anything, even President. And we believed it. Now the world is being flipped upside-down, and only the men, even those who perpetuate messages that are clearly harmful to women, will stay right side up.

 

Donald Trump doesn’t think women should be President. He treats women like prizes to be won, nothing more than boobs, a butt, and a pretty face. He has insulted so many amazing women for doing their jobs in a way that threatens him. He even has been accused of sexual harassment by multiple women and has implied simply disgusting thoughts about his daughter. Trump speaks of women almost solely based on appearances. “I’d look her right in that ugly face of hers,” “A person who’s flat-chested is very hard for them to be a 10,” “You know, it really doesn’t matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young, and beautiful, piece of ass,”  “Does she have a good body? No. Does she have a fat ass? Absolutely.” These word are his actual words, words that have been seemingly condoned through his campaign and maybe through his Presidency. Aside from the notorious “Grab em’ by the Pussy” comment, he has explicitly stated that he doesn’t respect women on live TV.  His supporters have even  started the movement #repealthe19th, a trending hashtag supporting the removal of women’s right to vote.

 

It’s 2016. The notion that a woman is still defined by her looks or is substantively inferior to a man is completely and totally unjust. Each and every girl has so much more to her than her appearance and is capable of anything achieved by men. It seems to me almost inhuman that almost half of the country decided to put their vote behind Trump. I hadn’t ever thought I lived in a country that would support racism, sexism, and just plain bullying. But he won. That’s not the question to dwell on here.

 

So, the question, what does this mean for our girls, still stands. It could mean that little girls constantly question their value because they do not think they’re good enough. It could mean that Trump’s cabinet is fully male. It could mean that female workers in the White House will no longer feel comfortable at their job. It could  mean that a child might abandon her dreams of running for office simply because of her gender. It could mean that women across the country might not be able to terminate unwanted pregnancies. It could mean that the generation of young girls today will grow up in Trump’s America and might not believe that they can be anything. My generation has already been raised. We already have our values and morals and ideals. But what about those who come after us? Will they grow up in a world where girls are allowed to wear what they want and say what they want and do what they want?

 

Nobody can predict the future. It wouldn’t be awfully unlike Mr. Trump to radically change his ideas when he comes into office. But, it’s important to note, his degrading ideas about women have remained unchanged for decades, as demonstrated by his incessant, disgraceful comments towards women.  However, America was so close to taking an enormous leap toward gender equality by electing a female president. Hillary Clinton is qualified, hard-working, and inclusive. She is an absolute inspiration to every girl who ever had a dream of changing the world. I respect that the democracy in our country chose Trump. I really do have faith in the republic and division of power, and system of and checks and balances, but there are also real consequences to electing a President with no political experience. The bottom line is we don’t know what a Trump presidency will mean for America’s girls. However, let me leave you by saying this: every American deserves a chance to pursue their dreams regardless of gender. My plan is to keep working my hardest in my life to continue to prove that girls are worthy of equality. We are your daughters, your sisters, your friends. And we deserve our shot, too. What Ms. Sparkman told me, when I came into her class, distraught over this exact question, is that the best way we can help America’s girls is to continue to try to be the best role models that we can be in order to instill a faith in them that they too can follow their dreams. To anyone questioning themselves and their capabilities to accomplish whatever it is they are working towards, just remember when Hillary told us  “Never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your dreams.”