Oft Bitten, Never Shy

My Electoral Smile is Cracking

Among raptors, the females are usually larger and better at hunting. (Photo by Jason Mowry on Unsplash)

This morning I woke up with an ache in my jaw and sitting up rubbing sleep from my eyes I realized I had been grinding my teeth all night. I am anxious. Like many Americans my life and future success hinges on this election.

For white men this may be somewhat abstract. Under Trump the economy and our international reputation will fail and people will continue to die from the pandemic. But for women like me and for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ individuals the stakes are considerably raised.

And we’ve been here before. This is possibly the worst part for me personally and for a lot of other Americans. We have danced specifically this dance before. Every election people’s lives are on the line because like it or not the personal is political. But the problem is the lives in question belong to underrepresented demographics.

There are many accomplished Black women out there kicking butt and taking names and yet the minute one of them raises her hand and says she’d like a shot at leading the country actual millions of white men start scouring her sex life.

How is this just?

Women make up very nearly 51% of the population. And yet in congress we don’t even have a fourth of the seats. What the hell is that? And how many people of colour have been President or Vice President?

We’ve had all manner of white man for President. We’ve had old men, young men, gay men, rich men, the occasional relatively poor man, honest men, deeply dishonest men, men who loved their wife, men who cheated, men who had peanut farms, and men who were in movies but we’ve only ever had one Black man and we’ve never had a woman.

James Madison himself warned against failures in representation, but I’m not even mad about the complete lack of female or BIPOC representation or even what it suggests for my own chances if I were to get into politics. What angers me is all these varied white men have no time for me. These guys are happy to barter with my life just so they can get a bit more money or power and I’m supposed to smile and take it.

Just … NO.

Y’all remember Hillary Clinton? The nice smart lady who won all the votes in 2016 because she was awesome? If she were President we would all be in a better position. All of us. We’d be richer, some of us would have relatives who hadn’t died, we’d be safer, and we’d be happier. But because she was a woman we had to watch her win the election but be barred from the seat she had earned and then listen to an absurd narrative about how the winner of the popular vote wasn’t popular and that any vote in which a woman wins is “rigged.”

I know, I know, some people didn’t trust her because they didn’t think women are trustworthy, or didn’t think she was “progressive,” enough because women can’t be progressive, or felt that she was “shrill,” because lack of testosterone, or decided she was “elitist,” because how dare a woman have her own money, or had some weird idea that she wasn’t fit because she was the most qualified person in history to ever run for the position but as a woman belonging to a demographic that statistically outlive men by some five years she was definitely going to die in six months.

There were legitimate reasons to dislike Hillary Clinton. But there were no legitimate reasons not to vote for her in 2016. In the primary and general there was not a better candidate and again, she was the most qualified human ever to run for the US Presidency. But when she won we had to endure actual gloating from the misogynists who had screeched at us since day one of her candidacy.

We as women have watched our human rights be eroded. We’ve lost jobs because we’re considered less. We’re supposed to just smile as serial rapist after serial rapist advance to high paying and powerful positions all the while knowing that as bad as it is for white women — and it is really bad for white women right now — it’s even worse for our sisters of colour.

But we’re supposed to put up with all of it because our concerns, our rights, our lives are secondary.

Are the rights of my BIPOC sisters tertiary then? How am I supposed to accept this? I’m here looking at my own situation, the one I’m supposed to just quietly and tacitly accept despite how insulting and dehumanizing it is and realizing that not only do I not deserve to be politically discarded but as bad as my situation is my BIPOC sisters have been dealing with worse longer. I’m so deeply furious.

Tooth enamel doesn’t heal or regrow. Once it’s gone it’s gone. I have to say, I’m just done gritting my teeth.

I demand to be heard.

Doctor of Palaeopathology, rage-prone optimist, stealth berserker, opera enthusiast, and insatiable consumer of academic journals.

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