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.

Being In Charge Of Your Sexuality: Yes and No at 43

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When you’re a 43 year old single woman, the first thing people talk about is how you’re probably having sex with everything that isn’t tied down. People assume there is some string of lovers aged legal to retired, and ranging from truly single to married who are keeping the cell phone burning up with booty calls. Maybe that’s true for some people. Probably mostly true for women on reality shows and tabloids, but certainly not for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally hip with being in charge of my own sexuality and enjoying a healthy sex life, but part of being in charge means I also get to decline if I wish. Right now I find myself in the midst of a mindset where being alone just seems more desirable than tending to the sexual needs of a partner.

Folks call me crazy for that because these periods of chosen sexual solitude often extend more than a few days or even a few weeks. They can last months, but keep in mind, it’s by choice. This is what I want, so no pity necessary.

Once when I had just turned 40, I had a partner tell me I was in my sexual prime; that I couldn’t possibly be faithful because my hormones, paired with my angst of aging, wouldn’t allow monogamy. His words. Not mine.

I get it, though. That’s the stereotype about women of a certain age. It’s no different from women assuming men this age have a midlife crisis. Thing is, it just doesn’t happen to everyone.

Even though I’m not at all dealing with that hormonal onslaught in my life, I do feel like I’m certainly at the prime of my life emotionally.

I’ve finally reached a point where I’m in complete control of my emotions and what I want from life. That control allows me to have more sexual freedom than ever before. I realize I do not need to be in the context of a relationship to have really great sex. I’ve also finally figured out that being up front with someone doesn’t make me a “whore” or a “slut”. I can just simply say “I want to be friends with benefits,” or “I don’t want any more than sex,” and more importantly, I’m not afraid to say “I’m not at all interested”.

To me, having the power to choose is the most freeing part of being my age. I’m no longer stuck in the confines of what I think relationships should be, but rather, I realize what they really are. I know that as long as everyone is up front about their involvement in a relationship, sexual or otherwise, no one gets hurt, no judgement is necessary, and everyone can go home happy.

All that being said, I’m an introvert. Isolation is like vacation to me. Too much social interaction throws me into a state of anxiety I’m only just learning to deal with. Anxiety is a new thing I’ve started being honest with myself and others about, and it, too, is often judged. I just no longer care if I’m judged, but I digress.

I’m learning to nurture myself, protect myself a little, and make sure I’m able to keep out of the muck of depression too much anxiety can throw me into. So, sometimes I just stay home alone.

I love sex. It’s a very important part of life, but I’ve learned that for all the judgement people will throw you either for having or not having sex (people always have a damn opinion), few people really know how to handle their own sex lives. Many people have sex out of obligation. Some are doing it to feel loved, but few are really in enough control of their sex lives to realize whether they partake or decline is no one else’s business—providing no one is getting hurt, that is.

So here I sit in what many would call a “dry spell,” but what I call my “realignment period”. I’m happy. I’m comforted. I’m recharging my battery so I can be the best me possible.

If there’s anything being in my 40s has taught me, it’s that I own me. No one’s opinion about me or my sex life should be as important as my own. No one else owns my body or my sexuality. I thank feminism for helping me come to that realization.

It has been said (by Woody Allen-pardon, but he did have a point) that masturbation is “with someone you love.” It should be. You should be the sexual partner you love the most, and when you need a moment to collect your sanity, you can enjoy some time with the one person you can never break up with: yourself.

The Problem With “Fat is Beautiful”

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I’ve lived most of my life under the supposition that power is held by a group of white males we learn in college to call the “patriarchy”. What it took me many years to realize is that real power and control do not lie in an establishment. A group of males does not hold the greatest amount of power. Real democracy and power do not live in Washington DC. It lives out in the hands of people just like me who have the ability to change the flow of our social stream. We citizens vote. We decide where to spend our money. We decide what social mores and laws to follow, and which ones we will rise up against. We control them, not the reverse—something many seemingly forget.

Life hasn’t always been that way for all of us, of course. My foremothers fought for me to have the right to vote. They put some of that power in my hands, and just as my predecessors gave me solid ground to walk upon, I feel like there is an issue we need to resolve so that we may pass the power on to our successors.

I can barely glance at social media without finding an article declaring that fat is beautiful. I agree. Fat is beautiful. The articles, however, are extremely divisive.

Fat, obese, overweight—however we decide to call being large, is nothing that should be hidden from the view of others. No one should hide their heads in public because they have extra pounds, but so is every other body type.

Here’s the thing, one body type is not universally beautiful, nor should it be. Skinny women are beautiful. So are in between women, short women, tall women…

There is no end to what is beautiful. Beauty lies in a beating heart and thinking mind, not in aesthetics.

What many seem to mix up is being a “beautiful person” and being “sexually attractive”.

Most of us can probably agree that most humans are beautiful people in their own way. Where we disagree is whether or not someone is sexually attractive—aesthetic beauty.

Not all people will find everyone aesthetically pleasing. Some like blondes. Some don’t. Some like tall, muscular people. Others prefer short, smaller built folks. Some people are attracted to heavier people, and some are not.

I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with finding different variations of body type attractive or not. We simply like who we like. Telling someone they should be attracted to one type or another is as absurd as telling everyone they must like strawberry ice cream.

The real problem we women create by dividing ourselves into only body type—the sexually attractive categories—is that we relegate ourselves as no more than sexual creatures. We no longer say “We’re all beautiful”. We say “We come in different colors and flavors, and XYZ is the best”.

When we divide ourselves, and are complicit with the patriarchy in that we are nothing more than sexual creatures, we give away our power.

Thinking about the Civil Rights Movement, there was an internal aesthetic battle underlying the main cause there, too: Colorism.

Because of slavery, some people believed that different shades (lighter or darker) were better than others. This basis for discrimination still lives on today. However, during the movement, it was put aside so that the whole group could benefit. Being divided left room for internal conflict. The exact same thing happens in the Women’s Movement today.

We get so busy at first trying to uplift a group whose been viewed negatively (such as overweight people have), that we don’t even realize when uplifting them becomes overlooking others.

I’m a fat girl. I wasn’t always. I was once a small, athletically built woman. Lifestyle and childbirth changed that for me, but I’ve lived as both relatively skinny and obese. Let me tell you, it doesn’t matter what your body type, someone will not approve. Someone will make foul comments. Someone will laugh at you.

I was beautiful then. I’m beautiful now. Someone didn’t like me then. Someone doesn’t like me now. The only thing that’s changed is the size clothing I buy.

What I cannot do is let my body shape and size take the focus away from the bigger picture. At the end of the day, I’m a woman. I am uniquely me, and that in and of itself is beautiful.

If I can put away my pride and obsession with being aesthetically pleasing to others, I can retain my power to fight those who would love nothing more to own my sexuality for their own profits. I can share my power with other women—even those women who are equal, but totally opposite me.

We are all beautiful. I don’t think I’m the first woman to utter this mantra, but I say it with fervor. WE ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL!  Do not let some group who claims to own our sexuality, who claims to have more power than we, who finds join in keeping us self-conscious keep us from being united. It will only be when we stop dividing and start uniting that we win for good.

(image source:http://www.girlsaskguys.com/girls-behavior/a8065-it-is-okay-to-think-you-re-beautiful)

Make Your Voice Heard

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One of the first things my Gam said to me when I turned 18 was: “You can vote now!”

She’s 99 years old, and for her, voting meant a great deal. Her generation wasn’t that far removed from the time when women couldn’t vote. Voting meant so much to her. It was a way for her to make her voice heard. A woman who worked in factories, constantly fighting sexism, ageism, and other discriminations, who had lived with abusive parents and an abusive husband, Gam knew what it meant to have that voice taken away. She wasn’t about to be silenced. Moreover, she didn’t want me to be silenced, either.

Gam was a feminist. She never knew it. She never wore a moniker or said “I’m a feminist,” but she was. She believe in the right to reproductive choice. She believe women could perform equally in the workplace. She believed single women could make it on their own. Most importantly, she believed that women were equally as important as men in politics and other ruling institutions. My Gam has spent the entirety of my life telling me that I am strong, not in spite of the fact that I am female, but rather because I am. I am strong because I can stand on my own just as she, and women before her have done. She would expect no less than for me to go to the polls today and exercise the Right to Vote that so many women fought for.

It’s my duty as a citizen. It’s my duty as a woman. It’s your duty, too. Whether you’re male or female, it is your civic duty to make informed choices and vote!!

A man told me yesterday evening that he wished I couldn’t vote. He wanted me to “stay away from the polls” because I was a “threat to him changing the country back to the way it belonged”. I’ll be damned if I’ll throw away everything my Gam, and all the women besides her, fought for. I’ll never let him drag me back into being a silenced voice. Don’t you let him, either.

VOTE!