We have all heard this story time and again — a qualified and capable woman with ample experience doesn't get the job, while a man with possibly half the qualifications and zero experience gets it.
Why? Simply because he's a man.
Although this is something that happens often, these days most of us would like to believe otherwise. We try to convince ourselves saying, "Oh, no no, maybe that man had some particular competency that trumps (’scuse the pun) everything else" or "This could just be coincidental; we are living in the 21st century, after all!"
But the day America voted for Donald Trump as its President, it all stopped for me. There was no more making excuses for the men.
I can’t continue to live in my “false” paradise of a 21st century world when a misogynistic, racist and homophobic man has been put in charge of running a superpower by the millions who share the ‘ideals’ he campaigned for.
For a 21-year-old who grew up believing that this millennium belongs to millennials like me — modern, progressive and inclusive — the ‘myth’ has been shattered. For one, people of my gender — women — over the past few decades have made it out of the kitchen counters and nurseries that they were relegated to, but have had to face increasing harassment (sexual and domestic) at the hands of men who’re uncomfortable with the idea of giving up their space in the workforce and the accompanying decision-making powers that come from earning your own keep. But here we are, in a time where it is now going to be okay to be one of the harassers because “hey the president [elect] grabs women by the pussy”.
For a denizen of the modern world — one in which I see people who have finally been able to take tentative steps out of the fear-ridden claustrophobic tiny closets into a wide expanse filled with an increasing number of open-minded people who let them be and accept them as they are — the fear that people of alternate sexuality and gender would be pushed back with force into their corners is a little overwhelming. One is reminded of the famous lines of the Pastor Martin Niemöller poem.
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
If I cannot speak for the powerless minority, who can I speak for? Don’t their lives matter? Don’t #BlackLivesMatter too? To think that millions who belong to the same community that the most powerful man in the world today, Barack Obama, belongs to, will be increasingly and more vehemently asked to ‘go back to Africa’ after generations of them over centuries have lived as US citizens, makes me wonder if time travel is not a concept of metaphysics but one of regressing into an established social order of older times.
In a throwback to those times, will people with disabilities now be called invalids by the masses who think it was a good decision to elect a president who mocks people for having to live with physical limitations? I wonder what dignity the masses hope to gain for themselves — they who were marginalised by the establishment and not cared for while they struggled through joblessness and poverty, and therefore chose to vote against Hillary Clinton — when their leader is a man who cares not to accord dignity to the disabled.
As a young millenial woman, Donald Trump's comments on women make me squirm. Since birth, I’ve been accustomed to the notion that men and women deserve equal rights and equal pay and I have seen several people fight for the same. I have seen my parents work together as a unit and I grew up in an environment where my mom and dad both went out to work. I have been raised as an independent woman who should voice her opinions, keep an open mind, be inclusive, and live and let live.
Now, however, we have as the most-powerful-person-in-the-world-to-be, Donald Trump, a man who spews ideologies completely opposite to all of that. To see so many people chant the outdated views Trump holds makes me feel like the world as I’ve known it will cease to exist.
To be honest, it felt like some change was coming along in terms of women's rights. Women have been unstoppable in the past decade or so. Most companies offered equal pay, elected women CEOs and in every field, a woman has made worthy contributions.
The fact that Donald Trump has been elected not just affects these women now, but also puts a major setback to the hard work of noted women's rights activists such as Susan B Anthony and Alice Paul who had strived so hard to get us close to where we were. An environment that started seeming positive now has a dark cloud looming over it.
To put things into perspective for those who point to Donald Trump's “charming” daughter Ivanka Trump, she has a movement titled "Women who Work", which encourages and urges every woman to go out there and become independent earners for themselves. But it only sounds good until you see the picture for the movement which shows Ivanka sitting across a work table with her baby in her lap. Why can't women work without having to "balance" their family life and work life? For a while, there's been this idea that people try to propagate — that the mark of a "good" woman is one who can balance both. And Ivanka's so-called movement for making women independent fits right into that situation brought about by social pressure.
In fact, it also forms the basis for Donald Trump's statements surrounding abortion that he is against the whole idea of it. This also means that the bill passed by Obama to protect women's access to contraception and abortion could take a backseat. Being a woman, I can never get past why I can’t be the boss of my own body? Men certainly are not told what to do. Why should some man decide for me?
As for the secularist in me, coming from a country where Islamophobia is becoming all too real despite having among the largest Muslim populations in the world, Trump’s plan to ban immigrants because of their faith hits too close to home.
Taking his love for real estate a little too far, Trump had also proposed building a wall along the border of Mexico. Calling people certain offensive names is still the norm in some places, but now, we have a leader who wants to lead by a bad example and does so openly. Making fun of a person's family or heritage or cultural practices seems to be the socially-accepted practice in the coming era of Donald Trump's presidency.
The first thing that Trump needs to learn is to treat humans like humans. To treat women like fellow human beings and not as objects to possess. To treat minorities as humans, and not 'threats'. To treat people of different races as humans and not as stereotypes. To treat people with disabilities as humans and not as an inconvenience.
Bernie Sanders, in tears after the results were announced, has vowed to fight against whatever racist, sexist or inhumane measures Trump may adopt. While that does give someone like me hope, right now it seems like you're only safe in the US if you're white and have no pussy to 'grab'.
For the sake of humanity, I'm hoping against all hope that Donald Trump is miraculously a good president. Maybe somehow this responsibility will bring out the best in him. Fingers crossed.