This week, the world has changed in a way that shocked us all. And although many have already written about this more poignantly and articulately than we could – and many more will write about it in the future – we still wanted to speak up. None of us know what will happen next, but one thing we do know is that every voice matters.
As the election results unfolded online on Wednesday, the two of us exchanged texts with growing horror. We’re not American, we couldn’t vote, but how could you not feel invested? We’ve spent our lives consuming stories where good triumphs, justice is served, equality is fought for and the most qualified person wins. Watching Donald Trump become President of the United States (or Leader of the Free World, if you really want to terrify yourself) was a hard way to realise that this is not always how things turn out in real life.
There were many reasons why we were devastated about the election result, far too many to go into. What horrified us the most and what fed our anger was that we were so close to witnessing the election of the first female President. With the election of Barack Obama as the first black President, we thought we were headed in the right direction. Surely society was only going to become more progressive, right? We thought America was ready for a female President – a smart, intelligent, highly qualified politician. But then the election unfolded like something out of a horror movie.
No doubt there were many reasons why supporters sided with Trump which had nothing to do with the gender of his opponent. There’s no evidence to prove that Hillary would’ve won if she was a man, and there’s no evidence to prove that she lost because she is a woman. What is clear though is that by electing Trump as President, millions of voters have – inadvertently or otherwise – condoned his degrading and humiliating treatment of women. You can be actively misogynistic and disrespect 50 percent of the population and still become President. Women have been told resoundly that it does not matter how badly they are treated.
And we are still treated badly. Inequality is shockingly and depressingly real. We’re still afraid of walking home alone at night. We have to listen to old white men in parliament talk about our reproductive rights without any understanding of the realities. You can’t have an opinion online without being verbally abused, and forget about discussing the pay gap – according to many anonymous eggs on Twitter, it doesn’t actually exist. If you use your body to feed your child in public, you’re being offensive. You can’t be too pretty or too ugly, too thin or too fat without attracting the wrong attention from random men who feel the urge to cat call from their cars. If someone is hitting on you, it’s not the fact that you’re uninterested that will make them back off, you have to make it clear that you have a boyfriend – it’s only the thought of having to deal with another man that stops them. If a man assaults you, people assume it was because of the clothes you were wearing or the beverage you were drinking.
In recent years, feminism has become more prominent in the public consciousness, with women fighting for their right to voice their opinion. More women are speaking out and advocating for women’s rights and gender equality. But if this presidential election has taught us anything, it’s that we have a long way to go. And that is exactly the reason why we need to keep pushing. We need to use our anger and our outrage and we need to stand up for ourselves and for others.
Right now, many people are upset, uncertain and afraid. Trump and many of his supporters have declared their hate for those that are different from them (whether because of their race, religion, gender or sexuality). It’s not productive to fight hate with hate, but we can look after each other by being kind and empathetic – and we can advocate for change by continuing to speak up and to hope. As Hillary Clinton said in her gracious concession speech: ‘Please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.’
Don’t let people that are full of hate and fear stop you from being yourself. If you need a space on the internet to write and daydream, remember that this is what The Regal Fox is for. We’re here for you and we’re not going anywhere.
Jess and Manda are the co-creators of The Regal Fox.