I cannot escape this sense of loss, this great sorrow.
I am woman, and that alone is enough to speak to the many ways in which I am deeply disappointed by the outcome of the US election. I realised the energy, the hope I had invested to see a woman make it in what is purportedly the greatest country in the world.
I am not referring to party politics. I don’t want to speak of claims of fraud or lies, and misogynistic or corrupt behaviour. I am not calling it. My experience is not American, I am not one.
But I know the politics that is played out in my life, whether I have chosen to welcome it or intentionally invited it or have it imposed upon me. And the outcome of the election epitomised it.
So I will speak about being woman. What does it take for a woman to succeed? What does it take for a woman to be acknowledged as ‘qualified’?
Can a woman stand by her man, and not be tainted by the relationship? Can a woman remain loyal to the institution of marriage as many expected of her, and not be condemned for it? What if a woman leaves to maintain her integrity and perhaps ambition, refusing to be marked? What if she doesn’t leave? Can a woman be truly independent? What motivations do we ascribe to her?
Can a woman choose to be strong and ambitious, and still be a wife and mother? How much before she is too soft or weak to lead? How much before she is too ‘cold’, too ‘hard’ to be liked? Because women must be liked as they must be ‘nice’, don’t they?
Can a woman be like a man, and not threaten the established order? But a woman cannot be like a man for she will be ridiculed for being an imposter, won’t she? Can a woman choose to be herself and lose the faith of others, as their faith lies with conformity and acquiescence?
How many roles must a woman fulfil in order to be ‘good enough’? How much energy must still be expended for a woman to remind herself she is good enough?
When will fear cease at the sight of a successful woman, a strong woman? When will a woman be permitted to be flawed, to have an agenda or an opinion? When will permission be no longer an issue?
Tomorrow will be another day… and perhaps my daughter and yours will not feel lesser because once again, an intelligent capable woman with ample experience isn’t good enough unless she has impeccable virtue and full of grace, flawlessly perfect as men would have her.
Perhaps sitting in my bedroom in a country far away on the other side of the world, I am merely influenced by the media? What if the demons are not real? Maybe we are ascribing too much power to the US of A, as we see millions of dollars being wiped off financial markets worldwide.
What if we turn away, remove ourselves from the drama of it all and direct our energy to re-imagine a different world… I will certainly wake tomorrow less disorientated by what has happened.
For now, I will speak with my daughter who has been outraged and appalled, and choosing ridicule to cope; now I will share with her the dangers of labelling and dichotomising, and the importance of empathy for a people which she and I know little of. We will speak of courage to stand out and stand up for being woman, unabashed in pursuing our calling, whatever it may be.
Perhaps, perhaps there is a historical lesson here for all of us, as time will tell, and I hope it is an inspiring one.
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