MY NIECE THINKS HE’S SCARY.
That’s what I keep coming back to, time and again, when I think about what young girls must know in the age of Trumpism. My niece thinks the 45th President of the United States is scary.
I don’t know why she thinks this. To be perfectly honest, I don’t care. The fact that there is something about this man that frightens an 11-year-old girl enough to make her speak up about it speaks volumes. She thinks he is scary, and I wonder how many of her peers feel the same way. How many young girls in the U.S. are frightened of their president right now?
On November 8, people across the country poured out in droves to cast ballots for Hillary Rodham Clinton, who went on to win the popular vote by a margin greater than 2 percentage points. Because of the way the U.S. election system is structured, Clinton lost.
Now, we have a president who routinely made anti-woman comments throughout his campaign, who openly mocked people with disabilities, made frequent use of anti-Semitic and anti-black dogwhistles, and suggested that people of color are not real Americans. He is brazen in his un-American sentiments, careless with national security, and reactionary to a fault. He brags about committing sexual assault and has been accused of raping young girls.
Girls and young women have every reason to be afraid of this regime. Their families are being torn apart. Their houses of worship are being attacked by racists emboldened by the president. Their educations may no longer be prioritized. Their parents may have lost all hope of getting out of debt and owning their own home. They may lose clean water and breathable air. All of this, for the sake of the corporate dime.
The 53 percent of white women who voted for him do not get to be afraid. Consider this your calling-out: If you cast your vote for the current President of the United States, you do not get to complain that you are afraid. You can regret your vote, and should, and you should be vocal about that. You should march and picket and send postcards to your legislators.
But I don’t want to hear about your fear of this man, because you knew, just as we did, that he was unfit to be the president. You listened to the same stump speeches that we did. You read the same campaign platform. And yet, you voted for a man who has done everything you claimed to despise in his opponent and his predecessor. There was no bait-and-switch; the 45th POTUS told this country exactly who he was, and you thought that he sounded like the best man for the job.
The 53 percent of white women who voted for him do not get to be afraid, but their daughters and granddaughters do. These are girls and young women who did not have a say — and who, because of the nature of the young human mind, should not have a say — in this election. They are the ones who see through what little glamour this administration has managed to retain in conservative circles, and they’ve spotted just enough ugliness behind the curtain to know that something unsettles them. Their feelings and their fears are valid.
And, of course, there are the millions of girls who aren’t white; who are LGBTQIA; who are Muslim, Jewish, or Sikh; who have disabilities; or who have parents who fit these categories. They are scared, too, much more so than a little white girl living in Southern suburbia. Their feelings and their fears are valid, and — unfortunately — are coming true.
Here’s what all of these girls need to know in the age of Trumpism.
1. You Are an American
It doesn’t matter if you are undocumented, or non-Christian, or if your family came here from somewhere else. It doesn’t matter that your family doesn’t look like the pictures of American life from “the good ol’ days.” The U.S. has never been made up of just one type of person. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are not a part of this country, or that your voice is not wanted here.
2. You Are Worthy
In spite of how the president acts, your looks do not determine your worth. And by “looks,” I mean your size, skin tone, ethnic features, clothing, and even the rainbow flag pin on your bag. Your opinions matter, and your life is worth more than property.
3. You Have Power
Even if you use an assistive device, or have a fear of public speaking, or can’t access the Internet from home — you have a voice. That voice is power. Whatever sets you apart from the ruling class is power. Harness it. Harness your joy and your outrage and your pain. Be strong and keep fighting.