How you feel about the recent election result is a function of whether or not you have experienced trauma. The rhetoric powering the platform of the “winning” candidate was all about FEAR – fear of the Other, whether it be POC, Latinos, women, LGBTQ – and while his disciples might be celebrating right now, ironically what they are actually cheering for, is the triumph of their own fear. For those of us who either identify as one of the above groups or as allies of them, we can resist succumbing to the hysteria, by using the logic in 80’s movies.
Everyone I know who has a tendency towards depression, anxiety or panic was in pieces this week, and at various times during this election cycle. We were like Molly Ringwald in 16 Candles – red-haired and unpopular. Perhaps this is hard to understand for someone who has never been victimized, but for those that have, it is as if they’re being abused all over again. Daddy is once again getting away with bad behavior and no one is protecting us, certainly not his trophy wife. He has bragged loudly about his misdeeds, and still he is rewarded for it. The bullies run unchecked and are about to move in to the biggest house, not on the block, but in the land. It’s like James Spader and his frat bros are going to turn the White House into one of those cold, blue-lit coke parties in Less Than Zero.
Only Barack was the kindly, yet stern father of our dreams, with Michelle as America’s mom, telling us to eat our vegetables. They’re still my parents, I don’t care what these people say, I’m not going to be just another orphan Mr. Warbucks.
This whole “bullies winning” storyline is like the ultimate trigger, and yet I remind you that while we need to grieve and process our emotions, in the end we can still choose how we react. Remember that in the third act, the nerds win. The nerds always win, sometimes you just have to wait for the end credits to see it. The only popular kids who ever prevail are the kind ones like Ferris, so don’t let them put baby in the corner!
I am a bi-sexual Jewish woman who is a two-time immigrant that was bullied as a kid and has suffered in the past with mental illness. (Worse, I am a redhead.) I have experienced physical and emotional abuse, and yet I’m not defined by it. I do not identify as a victim, and I do not want to. I stand 6 feet in my boots, and people generally don’t fuck with me, yet in the last couple of days I have experienced some bad male behavior, from unpleasant to harassing. I believe that the climate in the country is telegraphing to people that this is okay. Still I will not be a victim. I refuse. Even in the dystopian future movies (Blade Runner, Aliens, The Terminator) the underdog does not die, unless they self-destruct.
Organized religion has tried to shame many of us for the healthy expressions of our sexualities. It is no accident that the candidate identifies with those radical elements that seek to shut down any sexuality that empowers us, because it threatens them. I urge you not to let them make us question our identities with their pseudo-religious horseshit. This ain’t Footloose and they can’t stop us from dancing, man. Remember, nobody wanted to be that square lady from Witches of Eastwick, nobody.
If you are a cis-male het white guy who didn’t vote for the candidate, do not internalize the abuser, we know he is not you, we read 1984, we get it. You are loved and wanted, we ache for you, and we need nothing more than to feel close. Do not let them isolate us, for we are many, which means we are not alone, not even in the bathroom. We are connected, even more than before, but you don’t have to let anyone watch you shit if you don’t feel comfortable with that.
It seems almost unfathomable that the President-elect has been endorsed by the most extreme White Supremacist groups to exist since they took us away in camps (remember that? We do!!) And yet, now is not the time for overreaction, but for heavy eye-rolling. Yes, it is frightening because we have made so many gains in this country when it comes to civil liberties, but realistically at this moment we still have gay marriage, Roe Vs. Wade, Obamacare, the god-damn fucking constitution and, more importantly, legal weed.
They cannot go back in time and make Rosa Parks sit at the back of that bus, this isn’t Back to the Future. They’re not wizards. We need to calm the fuck down, be logical, and create an oasis of safety in our hearts as we plan our next steps. More good news – this will make activists out of many of our more apathetic motherfuckers.
In spiritual terms, there are only two choices. Either everything is happening exactly as it is meant to, or the world is a chaotic, unsafe and evil bastion of anarchy a la Mad Max. They have already claimed the latter as their own, let them stew in their TERROR soup, with their conspiracy theory dumplings. Let’s reject panic in all its incarnations, unless it leads to a healthy kind of anger, the kind that leads to action, the kind that might actually mobilize us in future to, you know, like, VOTE.
As someone who has in the past turned on myself in terrible ways, for some reason when I’m tested, I have a rather helpful “Fuck you” response. Something in me rears up when truly threatened and says “Nope. Not me. Not today.” I’m like the Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club– vulnerable, but hella flinty.
So today I urge you to say, “Nope. Not us. We will not be beaten, bruised, or tortured (unless that’s our thing and then we are free to be, consensually because they haven’t passed a Proposition against that.) Mostly, what we will not be is ignored. The bullies haven’t won, it’s just that tense second act plot point when they seem like they will, until Ralph Macchio comes back and kicks their asses.”
Life is long, it goes on, and they cannot kill our spirits with a mere coronation, for we who know know that the Emperor has no clothes. My heart hurts in compassion for those they have murdered, at least on the physical plane, while pretending it was not about the color of their skin, but let’s remember Pookie died in New Jack City, and in real life might well be our next President.
They may have “won,” but they haven’t, especially once those voters hoping for a working man’s Messiah (ha!) find out what’s behind Door #3. Let us be there with compassion when that happens. We are love, we grab our own pussies, and we are legion. We are all Ralph Macchio. Don’t say, “Not tonight, honey,” but make like Jennifer Jason Leigh in Fast Times At Ridgemont High and say “Hell yeah.” Fuck them, literally.