Wednesday, January 25, 2017

It matters to this one snowflake

This election has bothered me a lot - not because Hillary Clinton lost, but because of the prejudice against women, minority groups, gays, etc  that is rearing  its ugly head.  Not that it ever went entirely away, but  I feel like I am being thrown back into the 60's during the civil rights era,  when people made a big fuss when Sammy Davis Jr. married the very pale, blond May Britt, and when we could buy "nigger baby" licorice candy.  I didn't feel the effects of prejudice too much then because there was not one single person of color living in my town and the main nationality was blond, blue eyed Finns.   I thought of my first act of defiance during the women's lib movement in the 70's when at an all girl pre high school graduation party,  I along with several other class mates, burned my size 32B bra. It was still bad to say the word "vagina" and women were all convinced that we smelled bad "down there" and had to douche or use some weird smelling sprays that were probably bad for us.   Later in college I participated in my first demonstration - a rally against the Vietnam War.   I really didn't understand the big picture of what I was protesting at that time, but I know it felt good to be part of a group that stood for something..

I thought about nursing school and how an orthopedic surgeon embarrassed me with his sexually explicit comments while we were applying a plaster cast.   "Just keep rubbing this and it will get really hard, just the way you like it, right?" he said.  I was powerless to say anything - and who would have believed me?  Besides, sexual harassment was not a thing at this time.

I thought about an old boyfriend who, after he completed a two year college degree, expected me to quit my 4 year nursing program to get married.  "I thought you were just going to school to have something to do while waiting for me to finish" he said.    That was a big turning point for me and I broke up with him but not before he demanded that I come home one weekend .  I refused and he showed up, threatening me and then telling me no one else would want me.   When I was moving to Utah he called and told me he hoped I broke my leg skiing.  I did break my leg running but that was a long time after his original threat.

I thought about a time in the early 90's during my career when, in a meeting of medical and nursing directors, a prominent physician swore at me,  telling me he was "fucking tired of my department not doing what they were told".  No one defended me or chastised him,  and later my boss came to my office and said "that is just the way he is.  I am so tired of us accepting "that is the way they are" or "it's locker room talks" or "boys will be boys."

I remembered once, another powerful physician, getting behind me and pressing himself into my back as I stood in front of a desk.  I could not move and knew if I said anything no one would believe me and he would probably have found some way to get me fired.  So I kept quiet and just avoided being alone in a room with him.

I remembered the "in the closet" gay coworkers who had to hide their relationships for fear of being fired.  Many of them struggled for years having to hide who they really are.  I remembered women who tearfully talked to me about their abortions - a decision that they did not make lightly and certainly not as a form of birth control.  My own mother told me a story once of driving one of her friend's daughters to an abortion clinic and staying with her.  It broke my mom's heart but she knew it was not her place to judge this girl.   No one of course, would judge the man who just abandoned her after she got pregnant.

I am sad that so many Americans and especially so many women felt so unheard that they would vote for a man like Donald Trump.  I feel let down by my fellow Americans who despite his calling women "pigs" and "nasty" and his pussy grabbing remarks, voted for him. As I tried to understand why, and asked them what it meant to "make America Great Again"  it became apparent that many of them could not tell me without admitting that they were against gays, immigrants, anyone on welfare or anyone who supported planned parenthood.  The really big issue was abortion for many, even though it has been legal for more than 40 years.   Some deemed me "not a christian" if I could vote for someone who was "for abortion" as they said.  I tried to explain that no one is "for abortion". "Pro choice" is not the same thing as "pro abortion".   I generally don't get involved in abortion discussions.  I don't think I could ever have one (and now it is a moot point since I am older and have no uterus) but I could never see how I had a right to prevent another person from having one.  To me it's a personal and tough decision that is between a woman, her doctor and her God.  Not up to me or men in the White House or Supreme Court.  I don't want women to go back to illegal abortions at dirty clinics and die as a result.  As a pediatric nurse, I have also seen what people do to children they did not want and I have seen children born with horrible abnormalities that gave them nothing but pain and suffering in their short lives.  It is not for me to judge.  I also took care of rape victims - many of them so young it it hard to think about, and many of them old enough at 11 or 12 to have become pregnant by this act of violence.  I have a friend who was raped and was asked "why didn't you fight back".

I blame a lot on the fake media.  My pro Trump, anti Obama, Anti ACA friends didn't care if I told them that the meme they posted was not true even if I provided evidence.  "Snopes" is a liberal organization and how do you know they are true"?  "Politifacts?  They are also all libtards".  Or the answer that was my favorite "I don't need to know the facts/read that.  I know what I know".  Planned parenthood was certainly defamed by the videos released and all the graphic photos of babies being ripped apart.  Forget the statistics about how fewer abortions there are now than there were before it was made safe and legal.  Forget that very few are ever done late term and not on healthy full-term babies.

I consider myself a Christian, but the God I believe in is kinder than the ones some of my very evangelical friends believe in.  Their God is a prejudiced, mean, stern father who only likes certain people.  These friends have no problem pointing out texts in the bible that they believe decry same sex marriage, women having a say or abortion.  They brush off my questions of other passages that condemn divorce, touching a woman who is menstruating or the verse that says if a woman's husband dies, she must marry his brother to carry on the name.  "Times are different now" they try to explain to me. 

After Trump won the election, and the Women's march in DC was being planned,  pro Trump people got nastier.  "Get over it, Snowflake" they said.  "You lost.  Trump is the president".  I tried at first to adopt my Pollyanna attitude and "just give him a chance".   That lasted a few minutes and ended when he kept up with his angry, spoiled adolescent tweets.   I tried to tell people that it wasn't sour grapes, it was what Trump stood for - anti women's rights,  minorities, anti health care, anti EPA, anti science, then he came up with his alternate reality.  And now he forbids the EPA from tweeting or putting out scientific data without it first being reviewed, and is halting immigration,  and defunding organizations that help women and children around the world.   It all seems like a very bad dream.   And we have a majority of the congress who are too afraid of what it will do to their own career to stop him.  My daughter and her partner marched in Washington, and my son, his wife and their two young sons Marched in Toulouse France, joining women and men all over the world.  Trump would have made a better impression if he would have talked to some of the women to find out what their issues were; instead he accused them of not voting.

I  continue to see posts, many by women, condemning we women and men for our involvement in marches around the world.  Involved women  labeled as whiny, entitled bitches who couldn't accept  their loss - they didn't vote, Trump said.   "what more rights do we need to have have?  I have all the rights I want".  "It's a bunch of women who want to kill their own babies" someone else said.  I know I cannot change anyone's mind but I feel that I have to speak my truth.  It seems wrong, and it is wrong, to just to ignore it and "give him a chance".    It isn't looking good after only 6 days in office.

When Salt Lake City women organized a Women's march to coincide with the first day of our legislature, I decided to participate.  I didn't expect that many women would get involved, being a predominantly Mormon community.  But I was wrong and at least 6000 men, women and children came in a snowstorm, with their signs and their positive energy to make a statement and maybe get someones attention.  Women my age and older, many like me, who feel like we have gone backwards in time, young girls, gay, straight, all races and colors and the men who supported them screamed in the capital "It's your first day, we won't go away".

Women's march at the Utah Capital

Still coming up the hill to the Utah Capital

If I, as a straight, married white American woman feel this way, what must it feel like for those who are African American,  LGBTQ, native American or immigrants?  Especially now that the president is trying to ban all refugeesI can't even imagine.  I just know I am tired of being quiet, and "giving him a chance".  I hope other women my age and younger women will tell their own stories and stand up for what is right. For the women who feel they have all the rights they need, that is okay. But you have to thank the women who many years ago, marched so that you have these rights, including birth control, the right to vote, and many others that you take for granted.  I am even grateful to Kathy Switzer, the first woman who ran  the Boston marathon who made it possible for many of us to participate in marathons.   Please don't condemn what you might not understand.  Your choice to not participate does not diminish you or make us better.  We march for you too.  And, it is human rights we are fighting for - human rights are women's rights!

2 comments:

Caroline aka FiberTribe said...

I support all that you've said here, utterly. I salute you for speaking up and out. I, too, marched and was pleased to see other like-minded folk from all walks of life, all ages, races, genders represented.
Being in Utah is a daily challenge. I am so weary of having to be in a minority on just about everything that is right and humane and kind. Nice to know there's another knitting 'sister' here!

donnaraye said...

thanks for your kind comments. I think there are many of us out here! And together we will all make a difference.