A Cycle of Abuse:Understanding Why Women Might Vote for Trump

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If there’s one thing I know, it’s the mindset of the abused woman: how we get there, why we stay there. I was an abused woman; it’s not just observation that gives me this insight. So, when I read this New York Times article about why women chose to vote for President elect Donald Trump, I heard the voices of so many women, myself included, who have excused an abuser’s bad behavior. Many of the reasons some of these women cite could come straight from an abused girlfriend’s or wife’s memoir.

One woman, Kasia Riddle, used the “good earner” excuse, stating the PEOTUS has “good business sense”. Pam Cornett said the words many abused women say when confronted by loved ones about their abusive significant other, telling others they shouldn’t categorize him: You “can’t put him in a box.” There were other varying reasons, but two were particularly bothersome and telling. Guzin Karide says she believes Trump is “a voice for women,” while Sandy Pearson is quoted as saying Trump is a “good man, deep down.” Pearson, from whom the headline of the article is taken, suggests her choice was easy when she would overlook the bad and “focus on the good.”

Women have been conditioned to “focus on the good” for centuries. We are taught from infancy to speak only kind words and to never mention someone’s negative attributes, no matter how bad they might be. Ladylike decorum trumps being truthful, pun not intended, but fitting. We’re even told to smile through pain and difficult situations; our menfolk don’t like to be uncomfortable due to our disapproving facial expressions. We’ve also been taught we don’t have a valid voice in the world. As Karide’s statement suggests, we need someone to be our voice—someone besides a female, someone who the world takes seriously: a man.

Despite our struggle to escape this unfortunate truth, the word of a man, even an abusive man, is worth far more to the world than the supposedly overly emotional, indecisive, misguided, shiftless voice of a woman, regardless of her level of experience or expertise. Thus the reason women for centuries have married men who mistreated them, stayed with their abusers, and focused on men’s “good” qualities instead of giving them the boot. After all, both men and women describe females who choose to be single as “damaged” and “faulty,” or even as “rabid feminists” not to be taken seriously. We don’t even trust other women, let alone expect men to see us in a different light.

Understanding the fact women still rely on men who leave them battered and broken emotionally, financially, and physically makes understanding why some women can look to Trump, and his plethora of male-centric supporters, as the “voice of women,” the man who will “Make American Great Again,” the “good man, deep down” who, regardless of his repulsive rhetoric and actions, will lead us into a financially and socially secure place as a nation. Men have inculcated women to not only ignore, but deny abusive actions and words in order to protect the patriarchy and its power. Escaping this harsh truth is difficult at best.

American women who speak out about their decision to vote for Trump are reminiscent of the hundreds of women I’ve spoken with who try to excuse their abusers.

He only wants what’s best for me. It’s my fault he has to be so harsh.”
“He’s not that bad once you get to know him.”
“He really loves me. He just sounds mean.”
“He didn’t really lie. He just didn’t tell me the whole truth because he knew I’d overreact. ”
“He’s better than someone else who might abuse me worse.”

I’ve heard the stories over and again—different voices, same plot. Women who’ve decided to vote for Trump are largely the same. Just as we shouldn’t judge a woman whose significant other punches them in the face, we shouldn’t judge the women who choose to support Trump. Instead, this should open a new dialogue. Maybe if we changed the way we taught women to respect men and excuse their abuse, these supporters would have viewed our President Elect through different eyes. Maybe if we taught women not to accept misogyny,they wouldn’t accept it from the man who will be in a position of power strong enough to diminish all we’ve fought to achieve.

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I Can Dress Like a Girl, Too.

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My mind is drowning in thoughts of racism: why it still exists, what we can do to end it, and knowing that somewhere in America tonight, especially #ferguson, a person of color is having their civil rights violated while I sleep in my cozy bed. I’m not sure anyone understands how deeply this disturbs me. We’re all uniquely wonderful. Can’t we just celebrate our diversity and love one another?

On the other hand, these thoughts are consuming me, as maybe they should, but my developing anxiety helps no one. If and when I can help, I’ll be ready. Until then, I’m just going to show my support as best I can, and not make the conversation about me.

That being said, the other thing on my mind is that I’ve sort of reclaimed myself a little.
I like to think of myself as neat, but casual. The problem is I’m almost too casual. I don’t own a dress or a skirt. This isn’t a real problem, I suppose, except that sometimes I’d like to wear “girl” clothes like I did when I was younger. Now, I’m not talking about micro-mini skirts and super high stilettos. When I think of a dress or skirt style now, I entertain thoughts of A-line dresses (pin up style) or maxi skirts. I’d most definitely wear the maxi skirt with awesome boots, a kickin’ hat, and a beautiful scarf. Funny though, I’d have never given a long dress a second thought 20 years ago. Even 10 years ago I would’ve declined. Things get weird as you get older.

Thinking back to when I was in my 20s, I still didn’t love my body much more than I do now. Although, I sure as hell flirted with loving it then, and looking back, it was pretty awesome. Why did I spend so much time body shaming myself? But I digress.

In some strange twist, even though I’m older and less in shape, I’ve come to accept my body much more. More importantly, I’ve learned how to mask the flaws and celebrate the good shit. So, maxi skirts it is. The pin up look is rockin’ too, but that’s some serious I’m-goin’-out business right there.
I love neutral colors accessorized with pops of brights. It sort of matches my personality. After some discussion and sharing photos of different looks with my besties, I think I know what’s going to fit me best. I’m really lucky because they’re so honest, but again, I digress. I finally think I can pull off dressing in something other than jeans again.

What really worries me isn’t just how I’ll look, it’s the looks and comments I’ll get. I’m always so awkward when receiving compliments and I hate when someone is like “Wow. You’re dressed up.” Like I’ve been walking about in a potato sack or something. “Hey! You clean up real nice.” Thanks for the backhanded compliment, jerk. Now move along.

Being a girl in a visually centered culture is tough. Being a woman in her forties in that culture is even harder. But it’s alright.

See, I may put myself down here and there, but mostly I know I’m fucking fabulous. I’m going out there and owning that shit, right down to the coordinating lipstick!! Forty isn’t the end. It’s only the beginning.