Trump’s Women

I wasn’t all in for Hillary from the get go. But in the months leading up to the election, I made up my mind and once I did that my passion ignited. A spark was lit that had sat dormant in me for years. I am a feminist! I had all but forgotten.

I was raised on Marlo Thomas’ Free to be You and Me record and book set, its gender-smashing message woven into the fabric of my identity. As a little girl, I fantasized about independence. When I played house, I wasn’t married with kids. I was a working woman  who had bought the place myself. As an undergraduate, I studied Women’s Studies at UC Berkeley, earning a minor from that newly formed academic department (along with a Political Science major).

In my daydreams, I wasn’t rich or beautiful or sexy; I was taken seriously. I commanded respect. I went on to earn two Master’s Degrees, the second at night while I worked full time.

I moved to Washington, D.C. and began building a career. My first boss made promotion decisions based on who played in his pick-up games of basketball, to which no female employees were ever invited. I got bitter. Then I got a better job.

Aside from issues, I didn’t like how Trump treated Hillary, how he kept blurting “Wrong!” while she was talking. I found him creepy, disrespectful. The 10-point scale he applies to women based on looks? That crap he said about Heidi Klum no longer being “a 10” now that she’s over 40? Wrong!

I thought women would be the backbone of Hillary supporters. But in the aftermath of the presidential election, it is clear that the one group that could have propelled Hillary Clinton to victory is the one to which she belongs and the one that seems to have failed her most spectacularly: white women. The majority of white women did not vote for Hillary Clinton (43 percent to 53 percent). Our younger counterparts are not to blame. Clinton won women 18 to 29 years old 63 percent to 31 percent.

The problem appears to have been with white women, like myself and Heidi Klum, who are dancing around middle age. I sat in a stupor all day Wednesday. It was like I’d had a stroke and the world no longer made sense. My first thought when my synapses began to fire again was: traitors! How could these women turn their backs on the progress of the women’s movement? We had inherited greater equality and rights from the work of Hillary’s generation. Now what of our legacy?

I knew I had to talk to these women—for my own sanity if nothing else. I want to understand and accept points of view other than my own. A None’s Story is based on this bridge-building approach. In it, I worship with people of numerous faiths, including fundamentalists. Many of the people I encountered could not have been more different from me and, yet, I managed to maintain an open mind. I had emerged with respect for their beliefs.

Somehow, this felt like an even greater challenge.

I put a call on Facebook for anyone with ties to a white woman who voted for Trump. Immediately, contact information began to flood in. I quickly had three interviews set up for Thursday, three more on Friday, and several since. These have been in-depth conversations, lasting anywhere from one to almost three hours. My focus has been women born in the 50s, 60s, and—like me—70s.

Carol was born in 1953. She has been a small business owner for 30 years. Most of that time, she had a little shop where she built custom art frames. She struggled to make ends meet but three years ago her prospects began to look rosier when she opened a retail marijuana store in Washington State. She is divorced and chose not to have children. She says she’s not crazy about the word “feminist” but admits that her life and choices are in line with those ideals.

In Trump’s impulsiveness, Carol sees her own. He says things that are stupid sometimes and she does the same. Her mouth has gotten her in trouble all her life. She says her vote had nothing to do with gender, though she does admit that whatever mystery lurks in a man is less mysterious than what you might find in a woman.

Carol and I approached the conversation from such different angles. Where I saw in Clinton a powerful and hardworking woman, she saw a member of the “old boys club” who had gotten rich greasing palms and patting backs. Where I saw a dangerously deranged billionaire; she saw a vulnerable underdog. Bogus businessman; a guy who reinvented and rebuilt his empire again and again. Tax dodger; money smarts.

I was at the looking glass. Beyond was a world where the translation for statements I knew to be true sounded like gibberish.

Could I listen until it made sense?

23 thoughts on “Trump’s Women

  1. So many of us share your curiosity a out how other women justified choosing him,. We await more results of your conversations.

    • Hi Val, These election results have sowed such division. I’ve been on a roller coaster of emotions these last few weeks. I want so badly to find some common understanding. Please feel free to share your own experiences with your circle/community as I go through this. I’m curious to know how others are working their ways through this emotionally or ideologically.

  2. As I’ve long said, you’ve got more patience with foolishness than I do. I could listen to them until the cows came home; it’ll NEVER make sense to me. 😦 I am extremely worried about all my friends and relatives in the States right now – I think you’ve got a loose cannon at the helm; a narcissist (which is a serious personality disorder, by the way) who appears to have zero moral fibre. (oh, and I see you skirted around the ‘evangelical’ vote – wise woman)

    I’m making Christmas cards right now and I think I’ll go back into my ‘peaceful’ zone; it’s definitely more ‘zen’ than tRump talk. Egads.

  3. I, of course, voted for Hillary. I was shocked in much the same way you were. I have no words to explain what happened. I shall observe the outcome. I don’t know what else???? I can think of a thousand snide remarks. They don’t help. I shake my head at the evangelicals who think their vote is a reflection of their christianity (can’t capitalize it). The best I can do for now is take care of me. Maintain a sense of inner peace and watch what happens to American women over the next 4 years. The best I can do is echo the Bible phrase: “It came to pass…………”

    • Hi Frank, I’ve just been feeling such much inner conflict and sadness. I know I need to get to that place of peace and inner resolve. I want to get to a place where I can speak up for any setbacks in basic civil and human rights in a strong and loving manner. Is it possible? Any and all thoughts from you are more than welcome as I go along this path…

  4. Okay you have left me on a complete cliff hanger and I just wanted to keep reading more of Mary and the others responses!!! I need to understand!! One of the things that has shocked me is to learn that many white women were instructed or willingly handed over their votes to their husbands. Have you encountered this? This actually makes more sense to me than women in such high numbers actually voting for him especially post sexual assault info. I saw on one of the Pantsuit Nation FB feeds several stories like this including church’s instructing the women to hand their votes to their husbands. Many of these women were completely left out of the “who to vote for” conversation and those votes of course went to Trump.

    • Hi Jesica, I’m on the lookout for these mythical women who handed their votes over to the men in their lives (I’ve heard they exist too) but so far I haven’t found them. The women I’ve spoken with to date are strong and made up their own minds to vote for Trump. I will continue my search!

  5. I found myself on a 2-day car trip with a woman who about 2 hours in, admitted to me that she voted for Trump. My child looked at me nervously in the rearview mirror from the back seat to see if I was going to pull over and put the woman out of my car. The thing is, I know this woman. She is a single mom like myself and I have always liked her and empathized with her. I sat silently. She told me how she hadn’t had a raise at her university job for the last 8 years. She told me that she really did think things were going to be ok. It was a tough decision for her, she said. Although I believe that she is misguided in thinking Trump will make things any better for her, I understood how she might associate her lack of advancement with the current regime. I didn’t want to hate her. I wanted to educate her but I think she felt the same way about me. It is hard but I think like so many things, once we put a real face to an issue, it is just impossible to generalize a whole chunk of the population.

    Thank you for doing this.

  6. Corinna, I love that you’re seeking answers and trying to make peace in your own mind. I feel like your journey will benefit so many of us women who are terrified of the “man in charge”. Thank you for sharing.

    Also, come visit soon so we can have a margarita and joke about lighter issues.
    xoxo – Monica

  7. I too have been on that roller coaster, from grief to anger to unbelief that some of my dear friends, people whom I know to be very loving wonderful and intelligent people, voted for him or a few, did not vote at all because they “couldn’t stand her”…They too felt the reason they voted for or supported him were that they did not like her, but also because they were voting for him based on his economic plan, or his stance on immigration, the actual policies he touted, which in my eyes, were only political slogans and not real world plans, but still they followed his message….And what I cannot wrap my head around is people not wanting to be painted with that broad racist brush. How can I not do that when they voted for this man? I don’t need to list the litany of things he did or said that were oh so wrong, we all know what they are, but to support this man in any fashion, supports the ENTIRE package, you cannot cherry pick the things you like about him without bringing the rest of the awfulness that comes along with him……So how do I separate the people I love and call my friends from the people who voted for this man? It has caused great conflict within me for only that reason. I have always been a woman who listened to the other side, never judged someone based on their choices, and have always been able to have thoughtful, respectful conversations with others about politics and yes, even religion….but here now, I find myself wanting to wall myself off from those who I know voted for him because of what he represents and the cabinet members he is choosing and what they represent…they ARE racist, they ARE homophobic, they ARE all the things they have been accused of and the people I know and love supported all this with their vote, even if they don’t agree with it or behave that way…..I am trying desperately NOT to be judgmental, but in the light of all this, I admit, I am having a very difficult time….not because I think my way is better, but because I think the way we are headed is very dangerous……I am crying as I type this….I actually called my Senator yesterday because I feel like I need to do something,….but I don’t know what is is….I have wanted to put it out on FB how I feel, but am afraid, I don’t want to hurt the people I truly care about….but deep inside me there is that thing, that thing that keeps nagging at me and keeps this is my head rolling around trying to make sense of something that I just cannot…..Part of me is curious as to why they voted this way, reasons beyond what my friends have told me and part of me doesn’t give a damn….they voted for him….

    • Dear Deb, Thank you for expressing the insanity of the emotional roller coaster some of us have been on since the election. I am feeling the exact same way. The reason I’m doing this project is because I don’t feel I can continue on feeling such conflict in my soul…it feels physically painful. I’ve got to wrap my mind around this and get to a place of love and acceptance or I will continue to suffer. I too don’t want to be angry or bitter but I know I must stand firmly for the essential things I truly think are deal breakers. This is just my effort to figure out what those things are, and to find peace within myself.

  8. Welcome to my world, Corinna, as your frustration to comprehend the madness of a Pres. DT is similar to my being unable to swallow the madness of religious thinking.

    As you hinted at (w/comment on evangelical voters), the two are not unrelated: this is what happens when people make decisions based not on evidence or facts, but EMOTIONS. DT told soothing lies that his crowds ate up, letting the counter-evidence be damned.

    Trumpians stuck their heads in the sand, not looking at the facts (GOP has poisoned the well by making only Fox a trustworthy source of news) just like I’ve witnessed in family members who are members of a religious cult. Same exact response, only a cult of a secular personality.

    It’s inappropriate to completely blame it on low-intelligence (I know many highly-educated ppl who fell for DT’s con), but it’s due to a lack of SKEPTICISM, not allowing those ideas you’d like to be true to be accepted as beliefs without scrutiny.

    Most ppl have it completely backwards: they can see flaws in proposals they don’t want to be true, but are uncritical of the very ideas they should be most questioning.

    Remember ‘faith’? It requires belief WITHOUT evidence; that’s what makes it strong. The cost of faith is gullibility; it basically set us up for a smooth-talking con man who came o River City.

    Unfortunately the GOP has gas-lamped the public with Fox News & AM radio infotainers for decades, and the investment finally paid off. In a post-factual World, whether an idea is true or not is completely moot.

    Like the old saying goes, “When the Gods want to punish mere mortals, they grant them their wishes”. There’s going to be Hell to pay…

    Roll back those calendars to pre-Civil Rights Era, pre-“women’s lib”, etc. Its back to the past for America.

  9. We seem to be in the space of transition. I’m not sure we know from what to what and that’s what leaves us filled with a certain amount of angst. I’ve arrived at a place where I can no long watch Sunday morning news shows because they seem to not know what to do but to keep repeating the same information over and over again. Shock waves I call them that are on a continuing roll. If I listen too long I start feeling that pull, too and I can no longer bear to look at the same old faces of Trump’s advisors who seem to have much better definitive answers than the people I want to hear from whose responses seem kind of dim-wit like. Obviously we have no JFK’s to stand up and be noticed. Instead we seem stuck in a morass. Hard to move around in this stuff….Yuck.

    • I agree, Frank. It does feel like a huge transition is happening right now, and it’s hard emotionally. So much uncertainty and I think things will likely get harder before they get easier again.

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