TW: Sexual Assault
Anjum Nahar discusses the result of the US election and what this means for equality in America
What a regression! This time last year, anyone claiming with any degree of certainty that Donald Trump would be elected as president was guaranteed to be ridiculed. But it’s the day after the election, the joke has become a reality and nobody is laughing.
We now know that America will be made great again; great if you are heterosexual, white, middle-class and male. This is their victory. Trump won because the majority of white men and white women voted for him. The rest of us will probably describe this event to our grandchildren as the degeneration of America. In 2008 when Barack Obama entered the white house it felt like a step forward; Trump is the equivalent of taking two steps backwards. Now, it is our duty as members of a global community to reflect on why this is and how this has happened.
By no means is Clinton the perfect politician (if ever there was one) and this partly explains why voters were drawn to Trump as a new politician, despite his many flaws. But the portrait of Clinton as a villain will be an image that lasts. A corrupt, female monster colluding with Wall Street in her own self interest. Her name is associated with scandal: marital scandals, email scandals, FBI scandals, you name it. In fact, I urge you to google it. You’ll find a whole host of articles with titles such as ‘Hilary Clinton’s 16 most notorious scandals.’ It is ludicrous to think that Clinton has been attacked for not leaving her husband after he cheated on her, as if details from her private life made any difference to her presidential campaign. But they did. The general depiction of ‘crooked’ Hilary by the right wing media suggests that there are still many who find the idea of a powerful woman threatening.
This election has major implications for the state of equality in America. How lucky we would be if these implications only concerned gender. there are Mexicans, Muslims and African Americans in the U.S. right now who are uncertain as to what the future holds for them. Some of these people may not leave their houses out of fear today. Although Trump’s bold claim that he will ‘build a wall’ across the Mexican border may never materialize, there are undocumented migrants whose livelihoods and families are put at risk by the antagonism that has been generated towards them over the past eighteen months. We can expect a similar wave of Islamophobia to that which occurred after the 9/11 attacks. Indeed, there is no need for me to look that far back: we can expect a similar wave of hatred that the tsunami of Brexit created right here on our own little Island this summer.
It would be disingenuous and flippant of me to assert that racism and sexism in America is anything new. But Trump has dedicated his campaign to fanning these flames, further exacerbating these deeply entrenched ideas of hatred. There is a danger that Trump’s ridiculous and vacuous language will be normalised. After all, if the leader of the ‘free’ world can grab a women by the pussy, why can’t I? It may be comic for me, a teenage girl, to pose this question but for those of us who are fighting for a reduction in sexual assault and a better understanding of consent, Trump’s language is more than demoralising.
Perhaps there is something we can appropriate from Trump. He believes that nothing is impossible; you can be a Reality T.V. star one day and President of the most powerful country the next. So I ask, why should increased gender, racial or religious equality be an impossibility even under a Trump presidency? Today is the type of day we should allow ourselves to fall back on the old idiom that goes something along the lines of ‘we may have lost the battle, but we haven’t lost the war’. Take a deep breath, make a cup of tea and feel grateful that Trump isn’t the Prime Minster of the UK.
I leave you with a few of Mr. President’s most infamous lines. I hope you appreciate how poetic these are, how they read with rhythm and beauty, almost like a stanza of free verse. It contains a motivational element too; ‘you can do anything’ is his central message.
‘I just start kissing them.
It’s like a magnet.
I don’t even wait.
And when you’re a star they let you do it.
You can do anything.
Grab them by the pussy.
You can do anything.’
– Donald J. Trump
Illustration by Isabel Kilborn