Since Donald Trump won his bid for the White House, the women of America have been suffering Trump Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I wish I were kidding. But I’m not. This is real and it’s serious.
At first I thought it was just me. But then all of my friends told me they too were unable to stop crying and in between crying, were throwing up or so nauseated they couldn’t eat. They can’t sleep. They’re having nightmares about Trump. Then women shared these feelings with me on Twitter and Facebook and more and more notes poured in. The same story and the same symptoms: Sobbing, vomiting, can’t sleep, nightmares.
There are so many legitimate issues with a Donald Trump presidency that I hesitated to write about this, and there are so many groups of vulnerable people who are terrified right now for obvious reasons.
But women are human beings too and deserve to have their concerns addressed. The sobbing isn’t because they lost an election. Women know all about losing power, since they don’t actually have it in the most important ways politically. We are used to taking a backseat. It’s not about a woman losing, although the excitement to be represented for the first time ever – to have our bodies respected by someone who has been there and doesn’t need coaching – was thrilling.
It’s about the fact that our beloved country decided to give the most powerful position in the world to a man who admitted sexually assaulting women.
Women who are victims of violent crimes often refer to the experience of the public weighing in on the crime as the second rape or assault. The shaming, the being reduced to nothing, being treated as if our bodies being violated is less of a crime than someone’s wallet being stolen – this is the second rape.
But what if the people who knew what the rapist did then elected him president?
Rape, sexual assault, violence against women – these are acts of violence with the goal being control. So to give a sexual assaulter the most control in the entire world over women, many of whom have been victims of sexual assault or other forms of violence against women including stalking — this is the ultimate way of showing women how little they are valued.
Women are having nightmares and can’t sleep. They wake up with a start thinking Donald Trump is in their bedroom. They can’t sleep at all because they’re so anxious and feel under attack. They’re hyper vigilant. They feel a sense of impending doom.
Women are suffering terribly right now, because we’ve told them they are nothing. Their experiences are nothing. We don’t care about women so much that we don’t mind elected a man who bragged about sexually assaulting them.
Conservatives like to rebut with allegations that Bill Clinton was a “rapist”. It’s usually men who say this, in an effort to silence women who are upset about Donald Trump’s contempt for women. (Ironic, since they don’t care about Donald Trump’s admitted sexual assault.) Here’s the thing women all know but don’t say because it’s hard to explain: Bill Clinton doesn’t scare us. Bill Clinton doesn’t have the vibe of a man who would grab you and harm you. Bill Clinton has the vibe of the guy who charms you, and you might regret being charmed by him, but you are not afraid of him.
There is a huge difference, and yes, our instincts matter because they are honed through years of experience. We know a predator when we see one. We are the experts at sussing out immediate danger from a predator, we are experts because we have to be. And if you doubt that, just ask yourself how many times someone has said any of the following to a woman: “Be careful, don’t go there at night, don’t drink at that party, call me when you get home from your date, hold on to your cup, bring mace, use the buddy system, don’t wear that…” Trust us, we know danger.
This isn’t about party or losing an election. I had respect for George W Bush even though I disagreed with him, and he never scared me as a person. His actions scared me for our planet at times, but never was I vomiting out of personal fear of him. I can’t think of another politician who has evoked such an immediate, visceral reaction so consistently.
It’s about kicking women in the guts, electing a man we know is a dangerous, unstable predator. This is a man who has nothing but contempt for human life.
Fear is a finely honed tool. It shouldn’t be ignored or dismissed. It’s an alarm bell. Fear is a gift, explains Gavin de Becker in his bestselling book The Gift of Fear, which teaches people to predict dangerous behavior by listening to their fears.
This is no small fear women are having. Women are literally sobbing, vomiting and unable to sleep.
The nation should have listened to us, because a man who treats women like slabs of meat to cruelly humiliate and abuse at his whim is a man who can and will hurt anyone. This is a man who at the age of 70 can’t excuse his actions as those of a hormonal teenager. This is a dangerous man.
I doubt Donald Trump will get into office and immediately show everyone what so many women already know. But time will prove us right. Time will prove that our survival instincts were right on.