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December 1, 2016

Caught Between the Badass Women I Love & the Bully on the Playground.

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It’s been a few weeks now since the election and here is where I’m still struggling.

I am caught between the badass women I love and the big, bad bully on playground.

There are three women—perhaps more—whom I have admired, respected and looked up to as feminist role models in my life for a long, long time.

Women who, it turns out, voted for Trump. 

Let’s just process that one for a moment.

These are not just any women.

These are women I have respected and admired, in some cases, my whole life.

The kind of kick-ass, feminist, doesn’t-take-any-sh*t-from-anyone kind of women that I always wanted to be.

And they voted for Trump.

And I am struggling so hard to understand.

These are women who told me I would absolutely not—under any circumstances—even consider for a single moment making any sort of commitment to any boy before receiving my college degree.

I took this advice to heart so deeply that by the time I graduated, I didn’t plan on ever getting married. (In fact, not only was my plan to never get married, but I was also going to have a baby on my own when I was 30 years old.)

These women I admire are so badass that they were strong enough to stand up and be equals to their husbands in a time when that wasn’t tolerated yet, let alone accepted.

Some of these women waited to get married until their 40s. Because they refused to settle or compromise on their values in any way.

And I have respected them and aspired to be like them for many, many years.

But then there’s this bully on the playground.

You know the one.

The one we teach our children to stand up to.

The one who, when we see him making fun of, or actually hurting others, we encourage our children to confront.  Or at least stand beside those being bullied or made fun of.

I’ve said many times that all I want in life for my children is for them to be happy and kind. That, if they see someone sitting on the “buddy bench” at school looking for someone to play with, they should be that buddy.

I ask them to be that one person who will take their classmate’s hand and include them, instead of perpetuating their exclusion.

Don’t we all want our children to do this?

To be that inclusive kid who worries less about what others think of him and more about how that one excluded child is feeling in that moment?

That’s what I try to teach my children, and I know I’m not alone in my beliefs.

And yet, here I am.

Standing in between the bully on the playground and my badass, feminist idols.

And I just want to understand.

But I refuse to be the one who stands by and watches others get bullied.

To watch the bully make fun of the disabled.

Or talk about how he doesn’t respect a certain veteran because he was captured.

Or how he can grab any woman he wants by the pussy because he is famous.

So here I am.

Loving and admiring and respecting my badass feminist idols immensely.

Understanding their desire for change.

Our collective need for something other than the status quo.

Something different.

Someone anti-establishment.

I get it.

I really, really do get it.

But…

(And that is a big-ass but…)

In voting for someone like our President-Elect, we have chosen to turn a blind eye to his racism.

To his misogyny.

And his xenophobia.

We have decided that our own personal need for change is greater than anyone else’s need to be treated equally.

Regardless of their religion.

Their nationality.

Their sexual orientation.

Their gender.

The color of their frickin’ skin.

So what can we do when we have a friend who voted for our President-Elect—even though he is backed by the Ku Klux Klan—and that same friend has family members who could potentially be targeted by that heinous group?

When you cannot possibly wrap your brain around that fact, no matter how hard you try?

Here are three suggestions for what we can do when we’re trying to understand our friends’ choices:

  1. Remember who our friends and family are at their core. Just as we are struggling to understand the choice that they made on election day, they are also hurting for being generalized as racists, misogynists and xenophobes, because they voted for a candidate who has exhibited those characteristics. I know the hearts and souls of the people I am personally struggling with, and I know they would never stand by while anyone was being mistreated in any way right in front of them. I know this without a doubt.
  2. Agree to disagree. I will not back down on this issue. But I will also not engage in a debate about it. We have voted a hateful man into office, and he is only further solidifying my belief with the just-as-hateful people he is appointing to his cabinet. I will not stop believing this, nor will anyone be able to convince me otherwise. So let’s just remind ourselves that we can agree to disagree. (Even if only in our heads. Vehemently.)
  3. Let it go. I have come to the realization that I might not ever understand. I want to learn and I want to understand, but when it comes down to it, I’m just not sure I ever will. Yet another lesson from the universe in learning to let something go, because ultimately, my peace is more important than understanding the reasons behind what someone has chosen to do.

So this is where I am.

Caught between the badass women I love and the big, bad bully on the playground.

Trying to remember these three things whenever I feel myself questioning it all again.

And while I would never choose not to love my badass women…

I do begin to question my own definition of feminism.

And decide that it might be different than it once was.

And I realize…

Even if I have to give up something I really want for my country, or make myself completely vulnerable and open up myself for attacks, I will always, always, always stand up for the ones getting bullied.

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Author: Christy Williams

Image: A Christmas Story

Editor: Travis May

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