Donald Trump

Hell Hath No Fury Like Thousands Of Women in Pink Hats

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This is what democracy looks like 

Yesterday was one of the most memorable days of my life. It was not my first political march. It won’t be my last. But this one, completed with my husband, sons, sister, brother-in-law, sisters-in-law, and mother all united in this cause with me, was life altering. As we stood in the sunny cold of Civic Center Park waiting for the march to begin, people near us sang. An impromptu band formed when trumpet and trombone players found the tubas in the middle of the park. Signs were ubiquitous and mostly filled with positivity and love. Some were a little cheeky. Some were outright funny. Some displayed beautiful imagery and artwork. My fellow marchers were courteous, peaceful, and patient. The mood was ebullient. As more and more people gathered and the crowd swelled to well over 100k people, we realized were weren’t just witnessing something incredible. We were part of it. We weren’t demonstrating. We were showing the world what democracy looks like.

I’m not sure what I thought the new administration would say about the marches, but I guess I thought they would say something. Anything. My eternally hopeful side kind of thought we’d provided the president with an ideal opportunity to prove what he had said at his inauguration. He wants to unite us and he is giving our country back to us. It was a perfect moment to say a simple, “I acknowledge you and I hear your concerns.” I expectantly turned on the national news and waited. After Sean Spicer spoke bitterly about the dishonest media representation of the numbers gathered for the inauguration the previous day and left the podium without mention about the millions of marchers who had assembled, reality set in. The Trump administration had sent its own message. The president didn’t care about the millions of us who showed up to share our collective concerns.

 

I read a lot of negative responses to the marches during the hours that followed the press briefing. Comments like:

This is a one-time thing. They got their attention. It’ll end here. 

There is in-fighting among the Democrats. They’ll never come together enough to organize a real political movement. 

What a waste of time.

What was that supposed to accomplish? 

Comments like this might once have dampened my spirit, but now they have the opposite effect. Now that the march is over and we know haven’t been heard, now that I’ve had a chance to sort through some of the reactions to our organized actions, I understand how much easier it’s going to be for me to continue forward. I will engage in peaceful protest and political activism because mouthpieces like Rush Limbaugh think it’s okay to belittle women, by referring to us as “broads” and by dismissing our efforts as “nothing but a golden shower.” Because Michael Flynn Jr., our new National Security Advisor’s son, tweeted “What victory? Women already have equal rights, and YES equal pay in this country. What MORE do you want? Free mani/pedis?” I plan to show up regularly at my conservative senator’s doorstep to check in. And I will use my liberal elite education, status, and dollars to affect change because of inane comments like this one too:  “This public display should’ve been called the PMS PARADE  instead, more spot on and pissed off liberals at their most stupid! Poor Trump lit their tampon strings. God Bless Trump and family!” And shit like this and this and, especially, this will keep me fired up and ready to go.

I know there are men and women in this country who found the marches silly, pointless, infantile, and unnecessary. And I respect their right to express those opinions. I just don’t happen to agree with them. So, I took to the streets yesterday with a husband who thinks I’m his equal partner and who treats me with respect and decency. And I brought our sons because there were lessons to learn there about the price and the privilege of being a United States citizen. But I also wanted them to experience firsthand what happens when you marginalize, ignore, threaten, dismiss, denigrate, and in every other conceivable way piss off women, especially liberal elite women, the kind of women they will encounter in higher education and the workplace someday, the kind of women to whom they are related, the kind of women I hope they marry.

If there’s one thing I know about these women, it’s that underestimating us solidifies our determination and ignoring us increases our volume. This was not the end of it. We are not going away. Mock, ridicule, doubt, and chuckle about us all you want because you’re adding kerosene to our fire. As one clever marcher’s sign succinctly put it yesterday…

If you didn’t like my feminism under Obama, wait until you see my feminism under Trump.

 

 

Where’s Your Smile, Sweetheart?

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You’re a lot prettier when you smile, sweetie. Oh yeah? Screw you! Well, not you, Buddha. 

“Where’s your smile, sweetheart?” As innocuous as this question may seem, every time I hear it or one like it my skin crawls. Although the words themselves are free of vulgarity or outward violence, what lies beneath is an implicit notion that as a woman I am expected to smile even when I have no reason to do so. There have been too many occasions in my life when an unknown male has uttered these words to me as I politely tried to discourage his uninvited company. While my one or two word replies to his advances didn’t clue him in to my discomfort, apparently my facial expressions took over. And now, those few words serve as a reminder that it’s my job as a woman to put on a happy face for him because women are supposed to be demure, sweet, and accommodating. Woohoo! It’s my lucky day. Someone finds me attractive enough to encroach on my personal space and make me feel small, vulnerable, and ultimately unsafe. I should make sure to smile about it. Don’t want to seem like a bitch.  

The release of the Access Hollywood tape of Donald Trump and his lewd remarks has dredged up all sorts of uncomfortable emotions and thoughts for me over the past week. It doesn’t have much to do with the fact that it is our Republican nominee for President that is making the sexist, rape-y comments. Mr. Trump lost my respect eons ago, sometime during the early seasons of The Apprentice, and there isn’t a thing I could learn about him that would surprise me. If he unzipped his orange-skin suit and revealed himself to be a lizard-faced alien, I’d mutter “Of course.” The effect of that video tape goes well beyond disgust for me and millions of women because it is an in-your-face reminder that sexism is alive and well. It’s a visceral souvenir of times in our own pasts when we were assaulted, either verbally, physically, or both, by someone like Mr. Trump who still views women as chattel. It simultaneously baffles, scares, and disappoints me. It also makes me breathe a sigh of relief that I don’t have a daughter who I have to explain this shit to.

As horrific as Donald Trump’s words were on the tape, what bothered me more was Billy Bush’s comments and behavior which, while not quite as overtly crude, were just as creepy and demeaning. When Bush first spied actress Arianne Zucker who was waiting to meet their bus, he exclaimed, “Sheesh. Your girl is hot as shit!” Did he just say “your girlas if she belongs to him When they disembarked the bus and Billy suggested she give Mr. Trump a hug, I shivered. Women are continually expected to offer personal physical contact upon request, whether or not it makes them uncomfortable. It’s just what we’re supposed to do. Did Billy Bush embrace Mr. Trump when he met him that day, you know, as a precursor to all the male bonding and “locker room talk”? I keep flashing back to that uncomfortable hug with an anxiety reminiscent of PTSD. If Ms. Zucker had refused to comply, she would have opened herself to a smile, sweetheart-like comment meant to belittle her for overreacting and not giving in, or a what-a-bitch remark for her non-compliance, or perhaps forcible physical contact such as a hardy grab of her genitals as a reminder of who holds the power. Sick. And. Wrong.

I find myself checking the calendar a lot lately. Are we really in 2016? While I’ve long known we’re still a sexist society in which no woman is truly safe, I think I had somewhat deluded myself into believing we had made some sort of forward progress. Maybe the nomination of the first woman to be on a presidential election ballot buoyed my sense of optimism. But this election, with its female candidate and her harassing and demeaning male counterpart who is constantly referring to her as Crooked Hillary, has made me downright depressed. Secretary Clinton has more experience than anyone else has ever had for the position of Commander in Chief. Like Donald Trump, she has a negative reputation and scars from thirty years in the public eye that she has to overcome, but she also has sexism to rise above. And this sexism is not only from males. There are women perpetuating sexism against her as well, although I’d like to believe that sexism is so deeply buried in a dark place they’ve been conditioned not to realize exists that they have no clue that is what is behind their hatred of her. While I may not agree with some of her choices, words, or actions, I can’t help but admire Hillary Rodham Clinton. She is fearless. She has taken every type of abuse imaginable and she keeps marching forward unabated. She may or may not make a decent president, but I admire her balls. It’s crazy how brave she is to believe she is smart, capable, and level-headed enough to be President of the United States in this day and age. Perhaps more people might approve of her, though, if she would just smile more.

The next time Donald Trump is scowling on the debate stage behind her, I hope Hillary employs her balls. I hope she turns around, grabs him firmly by the genitals, and tells him to smile about it. It’s what powerful people do. And, clearly, he’s been asking for it.

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The Babysitter Confession

Free babysitters everywhere!

We’ve never had to pay an actual sitter. Shocking, I know. Our sons are 9 and 11 and, for their entire childhoods, when we’ve needed a date night or decided to go away for a weekend, we’ve had family members available to watch them. This situation was partly by design and partly the result of fate. When we were in our early 30s and decided we might like to have children, we moved back to Denver to be closer to family. This wasn’t as much a babysitting ploy as a desire to have our children grow up near their relatives. Both Steve and I grew up at a distance from our aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins, and we knew we wanted something different for our children. In 1999, when we first moved to Denver, we had three sisters and one grandmother nearby for babysitting. After Joe was born, Steve’s parents did what they said they would never do; they bought a second home here so they could see their grandson more often. So, soon we were up to three aunts, a grandmother, and a set of grandparents. Five years later, my father moved back to Denver and we both had our entire families within 30 minutes of our home. And, as fate would have it, no one else in our family has children, so our boys are the only grandchildren and the only nephews. People actually want to spend time with them. Yeah. I don’t get it either.

Now, before you go off on how lucky we are to be in this situation, how lucky we are not to have to pay someone to watch our children, I need to tell you what it costs to have your family members watch your children. It’s not a monetary cost. But, trust me, there’s a price for their services. For example, when family members watch your children, your home is an open book. They have unlimited access to your dirty bathrooms and your unorganized pantry and they’re family and working for free. So they’re not afraid to help themselves and to snoop around. You come home from a relaxing evening out and are greeted with “You have more hair spray than Donald Trump” or “I’m going to borrow all three seasons of Arrested Development that you own on DVD.” And, you can’t mind because they just spent three hours with your boisterous, exhausting children with ADHD so you didn’t have to. As much as you’d like to protest, you’re powerless.

Another hidden cost is extracted through paybacks. Your sister comes over and spends eight hours with your kids so you can go on a long bike ride with some friends. You have a great time and find you are actually excited at the prospect of sitting around watching Madagascar for the 99th time with your kids now that you’re home. And, just as you’re thanking her for babysitting, she casually mentions that she could use some help with a little project she needs to complete at her house next weekend. Oh…and you might want to bring that steamer you own because the wallpaper you’ll be helping to remove is really stuck on there. Well, there is no getting out of that situation. She helped you out. She expects reciprocity. You must comply.

Tonight I discovered the highest cost of all. My sister and brother-in-law came to spend two and a half hours with Joe and Luke so we could grab some wine and tapas at a local wine bar. We had a magnificent time talking about our hobbies and many things other than our children. The boys were thrilled to show their uncle their new Skylanders characters and do battle. When we returned home, we discovered that our children had been loaded with candy and taught some new songs. Thanks for that, Uncle Chris. Tonight as I drift off to sleep I will be singing a never-ending tune about a moose that stood around with one hoof on the ground. Not sure exactly which second-rate summer camp taught you that ditty, but I’m ever so grateful. Could you please teach the boys the diarrhea song next? That would be awesome.

Oh. All right. I jest. Of course we’re eternally grateful for the years of dedicated service our families have put into being the best aunts, uncles, and grandparents in the world and caring for our boys with the same love and devotion we would. (Scratch that…they’ve probably cared for our sons with more love and devotion than we have…or at least more patience.) I can’t imagine how many thousands of dollars we’ve saved in childcare over the past 11 years, not to mention how fortunate we’ve been to know that our boys were actually safely engaged in play rather than placated by a television for four hours while we paid some random teenage girl to talk incessantly on her cell phone to her boyfriend. Still, when the boys are old enough to stay alone for a couple hours on occasion next year, I’m probably not going to miss the guilt I feel when I have to find someone, anyone, to hang with our boys so we can grab dinner. It will be nice to be free of that monkey. Come to think of it, I’m definitely not going to miss the moose from that song either.