I’m lucky enough to do this whole writing thing as a day job, and one of my favourite places to write for these days is Romper. It’s a new(ish) site, less than a year old, and it’s for young moms who are looking for a feminism-driven, body-positive, inclusive slant on their mom articles. I’ve always thought of myself as feminist, but as I’ve been writing about it more, a lot of my ideas have crystallized.
I’m lucky. I live in a country with a leader who, on his first day after being elected, told the world that he was a feminist. I live in a country that allows, no, encourages and pays for, women to go on 52 weeks of maternity leave. Women here in Canada have it easier than women in many countries, including our neighbouring behemoth of a country, the USA.
Never before have I feared more for a country, and what it could mean for them to elect one of their presidential candidates to power.
I saw this video yesterday, and it terrified me.
Listen, I get that all the close-minded, right-wing, white trash, misogynistic white males are supporting this asshole. They’re the guys that are afraid of immigrants, afraid of smart people who are not just street smart but book smart, afraid of losing jobs to women who are smarter, hell anyone who is smarter than them. They’re the guys who think ISIS is your typical Muslim brotherhood, and aren’t willing to check the facts that prove them wrong.
But why, dear god why are there women supporting him? Why does “telling it like it is” trump (see what I did there?) treating women like the human beings they are, instead of the objects he so often refers to them as?
If the stories are any indication, we live in a time when misogynistic assholes are getting braver and braver, thanks to the anonymity of the Internet. Plenty of women end up feeling pissed off, scared, and/or powerless, after these types of horrific interactions online. Anonymous assholes threaten to rape or murder women over Twitter for standing up for what they believe in, for basic human rights, and it’s kind of hard to believe this is really a thing, in 2016.
I have a rather strong hunch these stories will only multiply under the disgusting example of this possible next-President. In his passive, easy-to-back-out-of-anything manner, he incites hatred and violence, especially in men, it seems. Take a look for yourself at the hate Trump-supporters have spread on Twitter.
Feminism is not the new F word, people. It isn’t something to be afraid of, if you’re a man, nor is it an excuse to parade your body all of the interwebs, in the name of “expressing your sexuality.” No, it’s something that every woman needs to embrace, if she wants her daughters to feel safe growing up or walking home, if she wants them to have opportunities instead of closed doors, when she decides on a career, if she doesn’t ever want her daughter to have to worry about whether she should sleep with her boss to get that promotion, because she’s not making enough money, and wouldn’t be in the running otherwise.
And then there’s this:
This video tells me that feminism needs to be a stronger presence in girls’ lives. Now. In an era of photoshopping Instagram pics and the million ways that girls can aim a microscope on their bodies and determine all the ways that they don’t measure up, we need to empower these girls to feel like they are enough. Trump only encourages the type of bullshit objectification in this video, in the way he addresses women.
What the hell do we do, then? Great question. Don’t look at me, though; I don’t have the answers. But perhaps I do have a few suggestions which could help things along.
The first thing I’d suggest is that, if you’re in the United States, you vote against Trump, should he take the Republican candidacy. I keep hearing people say that they could never vote for Clinton or Sanders, and that despite all of his shortcomings, Trump is the better option. Uhhhhh…
HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?!
How is a man who calls women “fat pigs” and “dogs” better than anyone? Especially as leader of the most powerful nation in the world? Answer: he’s not. Ever.
How can anyone who has changed his opinions on so many things that matter be trusted? Answer: he can’t. Ever.
The second thing I’d suggest is to enlist the men in our lives who support us, and support feminism. There are lots of them out there. Probably even some men that you know! I know, shocking. Men who support feminism should be using the word “feminist” more, so that we can normalize the word. If you’re male and you support equality and respect, then you’re a feminist too. There! That wasn’t so bad, was it?
And finally, we have to educate our children on the importance of equality, respect and consent. Not when they’re 12 and starting to hit puberty; when they’re old enough to communicate, so that it’s ingrained in them. The respect that men have for women (and women have for other women, and women have for men, and fuck, let’s finish the circle and say and men have for men as well) is the basis of so much, in terms of moving this world out of hate and conflict and injustice. Really, it goes alongside respect for the environment, for animals, for people in countries on the other side of the world.
We need feminism now, more than ever, in this time of assholes. Otherwise, we are all lost.