When Donald Trump was elected President, I was surprised to feel the tears that sprang to my eyes. I didn’t expect the flood of emotions that suddenly sent me into the fetal position on my living floor. I didn’t expect to feel so small. So helpless. So scared.
As the initial numbness wore away, I felt overwhelmingly powerless and vulnerable as a woman. Donald Trump’s comments throughout his campaign have made entire populations of American citizens feel inferior. Until recently, I was idyllically unaware of how “less than” another person’s words and actions could make me feel based simply on the fact that I am a woman.
Women learn to deal with demeaning looks and comments so often that it becomes second nature for them to brush them aside.
When these comments come from friends who are “just kidding” or men we are dating or from strangers on the street – we are conditioned to ignore it. To not take it to heart. To tell ourselves, "They don't mean it."
What we are really saying is, “It’s OK.”
When we refer to disrespectful and disgusting comments as “Locker Room Talk” we are saying, “It’s OK.”
When we joke, “at least he was good looking,” after a catcall from a stranger we are saying, “It’s OK.”
And if one good thing has come out of my past 48 hours of personal mental turmoil it is that I am no longer content to send this message.
It is not OK.
I am not powerless and I am not small.
And I have found comfort in the idea that I am not the only one who will use this moment in our country’s history to commit to being a better, stronger, more vocal role model for others.
To be a better person, to be a better woman, to be a better American.
I will be better.
In the next four years, a woman will not be representing our country. But we as women can still demand respect.
In the next four years, men may not answer our calls for equality. But we as women can still support each other relentlessly.
In the next four years, the leader of our country may work to keep us from feeling empowered. But we as women are powerful.
As individuals we are powerful. As mothers and daughters and sisters and friends and wives we are powerful. And together, we can persevere.
I am intelligent. I will remain educated, seeking information and continuing to learn because I am lucky to have that opportunity.
I am fair. I will always keep an open mind and be willing to listen to multiple points of view on issues that are important to this nation.
I am wise. I will no longer live in an echo chamber, surrounded only by those who share my opinions and beliefs.
I am fallible. I will admit when I am wrong, I will ask for help, I will ask questions, I will listen.
I am beautiful. I will fervently remind my friends and fellow women that they are beautiful and they are so much more than a number on a scale or a gap between their thighs.
I am meant for more. I will work hard to no longer waste mental energy on appearances – I refuse to believe that the less space I take up on this earth, the happier I will be.
I am in control. I will never again let a man make me feel as if his feelings come before my own, no matter how much I love him.
I am supportive. I will try my best to eliminate words like slut and whore and bitch from my vocabulary. I will treat all women with the same respect that I demand from others.
I am a role model. I will volunteer my time to ensuring that young girls feel empowered to dream big, to know they are beautiful and capable.
I am strong. I will view obstacles as opportunities and challenges as chances.
I am powerful. I will move my body because I love my body – not because I hate it.
I am vocal. I will speak up when I hear or see things that are offensive and wrong. I will not stay silent when inappropriate things are said under the guise of a “joke.”
I have a voice. I will not downplay my beliefs or convictions to appease any man. Apathy is not attractive.
I have a purpose. I will pursue my passions and push boundaries. I will challenge myself and others to be the best version of themselves.
I have girl power. I will be proud to be a woman and I will do my best to spread the message that first and foremost women must support each other before we can expect support from men.
I have faith. I will continue to look forward to the day that a qualified, experienced woman will be voted into the White House to lead our nation and to represent all Americans.
I have pride. Despite the current state of our nation, I am proud to be an American.
I am proud to be from a country that sets itself apart from other nations thanks to 239 years of the successful peaceful transfer or power.
I am hopeful that we as individuals really do have a voice. That our democracy ensures that one hateful man is not more powerful than the good, kind, honest citizens who take this opportunity to vow to be better, more caring, conscientious humans.
I find extreme comfort and inspiration in these words from Hillary Clinton:
“If you live long enough, you realize that so much of what happens in life is out of your control. But how you respond to it is in your control.”
I am proud to be an American.
I am proud to be a woman.
And I am proud of myself, and everyone else, who uses this day as a chance to respond with the message: