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I just don’t know if I can fight (right now)

By on Nov 11, 2016 in Life

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Trump’s victory at the polls coupled with the Republican’s controlling both the house and the senate has me, like so so many of us, reeling. I am angry. I am scared for the safety of myself and all those I love, especially my friends of color, LGBTQ friends, and Muslim friends. These people are not token aquantainces in my life. They are people I regularly rely on for advice and support.

I am scared for myself, a white, cis, straight women, for the reasons all women out there are afraid.

Will I be able to get birth control? It may very well no longer be covered by insurance (or only for women who are married as it used to be), it may become outrageously expensive, it may be banned in some places or restricted to the point that it is banned for many women. Maybe we will return to the days of forced sterilization.

Will I be groped or assaulted? Like every woman in America, I have had my body grabbed or inappropriately touched by strangers and acquaintances alike. We elected a president who openly talks about “grabbing pussy” and has threatened the many women who have alleged sexual assault against him. So even if I was assaulted, there is little hope of justice. See the Standford rape trial for more details.

Will abortion rights be taken away? Will women whose babies are dead or won’t survive out of the womb have to carry that fetus for 9 months and then give birth to dead child?

Will I get rape or death threats? Will I be doxxed or have someone put rape ads with my address on Craigslist as they did Kathy Sierra?

Will I continue to have work in a sector dependent on venture capital? Will the economy coming crashing back down as the futures markets predicted? Will I be able to continue running and operating our small businesss?

I am truly afraid to publish and publicize this post.

And everyone is saying we will fight. And we will. I will. But …

I am just so so tired. I have been an activist on some level most of my life.

I called out my sister’s friend on being homophobic in high school (much to my sisters anger). I was a member of the gay-straight alliance. I have had uncomfortable (and constructive) conversations with anti-abortion people. I have used my position of privilege to advocate for other marginalized people at work (and paid the emotional and financial price – and I was OK doing so). I have gone through the trouble of documenting discriminatory behavior at school and work and taking it to higher ups, not in the hope that it would help me, but in the hope it would help others.

I organized a CSA for 3 years to support small business and a change in our agriculture supply chain. I want farmers to be self-sufficient and actually make money from their labor (as opposed to Monsanto etc) I supported a meat CSA which supported not just local farmers, but also one of the only FDA licensed
small processing plants that ethically treats their workers. I try to support local businesses and etsy sellers. I try to buy ethically sourced and make things when I can. I shop at my local food co-op.

I have volunteered for, organized, founded, run organizations for women and girls in tech for a long, long time.

I escorted scared, determined women at abortion clinics in both Central Illinois and Brooklyn. I have been called a “baby killer” and had my photo posted on an anti-abortion website.

I have voted in every single election since I was 18 – every single year I research and vote for local politicians, I vote in primaries, I research judges. I take my civic duty to vote, do jury duty, and pay taxes as a required honor and a small price to pay for democracy.

And now I am so tired. Because what Trump being elected president says to me is “No one gives a shit” and “It doesn’t matter.”

There was so so so much information about the disgusting, depraved things Trump has said and done available. So much information on his fraud. He said Mexicans were rapists, he would deport all undocumented immigrants, and ban Muslim’s from the country. And he said those things on national television. There is no excuse to not know.

Nothing about Trump’s candidacy had any substance so I do not buy any argument that says he offered to give any voter anything. He offered fearmongering and hate.

While I have empathy for rural whites who are losing manufacturing jobs, I do not buy the argument that they did this out of fear for their livelihoods. Their livelihoods have been gone for decades now despite Republicans running both the White House and congress at various points. The Republican party’s politics do not offer a solution to manufacturing jobs moving overseas (in fact, they make that MORE likely) or reinvigorating declining rural cities or dealing with the expanding drug epidemic. Clinton and the DNC’s policies offer comprehensive (although, in my opinion, not progressive enough) solutions to these issues.

But you know what? They don’t give a shit. People don’t want to educate themselves or even listen to non-headline making points. They want Kim Kardashian and Real Housewives. They want to sit at home and pretend everything is dandy, laughing at other’s misfortune while other people, people not like them, are dying.

And, no, I am not exaggerating. And, no, I do not feel bad about generalizing. A vote for Trump was a vote either for blanket oppression or selfish stupidity. Neither of those make me feel better.

But I disgress. Back to the fighting part.

Here is the thing. Things have been really rough for me lately. And I know kids are starving in African and black folks are being shot willy nilly by cops and this doesn’t compare. It doesn’t.

But the thing is my emotional gas tank is beyond empty.

Three years ago I got a concussion, which I am still recovering from. I physically have the stamina of an old lady, sometimes screens make me feel nauseous, I have to wear glasses because you can’t make contacts with the prism I need to see without blurriness, I gained 50 pounds, I get migraines, and I now get panic attacks. After being on unpaid medical leave for 3 months while my husband wasn’t working either, he had to have abdominal surgery for Crohns Disease. I went back to work (too early), because we needed food and health insurance. The bills piled up. We needed a dog walker since nieither of us could walk down the stairs. My co-pays for occupational and vestibular therapy were $100 each time with health insurance. I couldn’t take the subway so I drove and paid for parking in Manhattan (and later downtown Chicago) every day. Then husband did Dev Bootcamp and we moved to Chicago. Our now almost 14 year old dog got a cancerous tumor, recovered then got pancreatitis. Now, due to a degenerative nerve condition, he cannot feel the back half of his body leaving him barely able to walk and in diapers, but happy as a clam. So vet bills. Finally, after 2+ years of not working, my husband got a dev job. Then he left me. Then our other dog died. Now we are engaged in an acrimonious divorce mostly involving how to divide the massive debt (equal to about our combined income) we have.

And this is all around the decade mark of being a woman in tech – the time at which over 50% of women leave the field. And, yes, those stories you hear about being ignored, having ideas taken credit for, being sexual harassed, being under paid – all those stories are true. I have lived them. I have witnessed them. I can no longer count the number of times I have been told, at work, I am aggressive or mean or scary for having an opinion and not being willing to change it just because a man disagreed.

During all this, I still managed to co-organize one GORUCO and two Write/Speak/Code conferences. I spoke at a number of other conferences. Write/Speak/Code continued our effort to be inclusive and intersectional to all women and meet their unique needs (childcare, lactation room, Ramadan prayer room). I taught dozens of students how to code. I talked openly about oppression and microaggressions to hundreds of those students. We had difficult conversations and I planted seeds. I fought hard for those students and staff who were marginalized to have a safe space to learn and grow and I was ostracized for it. I thought I got my dream job, but it wasn’t. I found my BFF and #workwife and our joining forces resulted in a 50% decline in the company’s male referrals. We soldiered on, killing ourselves to create an inclusive, family-friendly, awesome place to work in tech.

This week I just feel the weight of 50% of the country bearing down on my already crushed soul. I don’t have the money to donate right now. I barely have the energy to take care of myself and my dogs.

I am tired and I don’t want to be told to fight. I want to be told that the country gives a shit about humans and justice and equality and freedom. I want to be told that Americans are willing to take 1 hour out of their week to read the fucking actual news and inform themselves on policies and what’s going on in the country. I want to be told that more than 60% of Americans are willing to get off their ass to vote and they will be welcomed at the polls and ushered through with dignity and respect.

I know I will get beyond this and get fighting again. But right now all the “time to fight” feels like a slap in fucking face to all of us who were already fighting and have been for much of our lives.

And no, my fighting wasn’t enough, it isn’t enough, it will never be enough.

And yet my ability to fight is dependent on my ability to believe that fighting will change things.

Half of America just told us that they reject progress and justice and equality and civil rights. Half of Americans voted for a person who has flip-flopped on so many policies no one even knows what they are, made sweeping generalizations about entire ethnicities, threatened to use our nuclear weapons, has a running mate who believes gays and lesbians should be sent to jail, and promised to send his opponent to jail when he gets in to office. He said those things boldly and publicly and no one missed them.

And those numbers cut across age and gender and income. Millennials (who did not vote in the numbers we expected) will not save us.

What I need right now is hope. And that feels impossible.

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