You'd have a difficult time finding a single voter or citizen of the United States who considered the 2016 presidential election to be anything other than bizarre, hateful, and never-ending. However, even knowing what we collectively learned as a nation during an almost-two-year long presidential election couldn't possibly prepare us for an election night this close. As early projections poured in, it became clear that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is doing better with male voters than former Republican nominee Mitt Romney during the 2008 presidential election, and that says a lot about the men of the United States of America.
As a mother to a 2-year-old son, I can admit I'm somewhat optimistic when it comes to the men of this country. Typing that in this moment feels odd, to be sure, because I'm also a sexual assault survivor, have received rape and death threats via social media, have been catcalled and sexually harassed a number of times, have encountered rape culture head on and throughout my life, and am all too aware of the blatant gender discrimination running unchecked and generally accepted by our patriarchal culture. Still, having a child can make you see any glass as half-full, can give you a new "lease on life," and can make you hopeful when you'd rather hide under your covers because you're acutely aware that, as a woman in this country, monsters do exist.
However, the knowledge that Trump is garnishing more male voters than Romney, especially after his comments about women — including bragging about sexual assault during an Access Hollywood interview with former-host Billy Bush — and the number of women who have since come forward and accused Trump of sexual assaulting them, it's nothing short of disheartening and terrifying to know that half — if not the potential majority of — men in this country are not only passive about sexual assault, but accept it as "normal" and "locker-room talk" and a perfectly understandable and acceptable treatment of women.
Even if Trump doesn't become the leader of the free world, at least half the men in this county thinks the way he does.
Prior to the presidential election, and way before Trump entered the race as a potential Republican candidate for President of the United States, he's essentially "boasted" and proudly owned a long, tainted history of treatment and comments towards and about women. From blatantly admitting that he can't say he, "respects women," to calling women "dogs" and "fat pigs," to saying pregnancy is an "inconvenience for businesses," and later, as a presidential candidate, claiming that women who have abortions should be "punished," nothing about Trump's words, actions, publicly promised, or private business policies have mirrored respect and admiration for women.
Then, of course and sadly, there are the numerous reports that have surfaced since The Washington Post published audio of Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women. While speaking to former-host Billy Bush, Trump claimed he could, "Grab [women] by the p*ssy," and they'll "let you do it because you're famous." Since the now-infamous Access Hollywood leak, reports have surfaced of Trump "barging into" locker rooms of the former beauty pageants he hosted and funded, where some contestants as young as 15 years old were changing.
Honestly, anyone with access to the internet could research, find, cite, and speak out about the vile, hateful, sexist, and dangerous things Trump has reportedly and allegedly said about and/or done to women. In the end, I guess that's the point. The stories are public and no amount of ink has been spared, yet male citizens of these great United States just don't seem to care. In the end, political affiliation seems to trump common decency and a sense of collective humanity. In the end, voting Republican is more important than voting against someone who not only devalues and dehumanizes women, but has also set a precedence for how women can and should be treated by the men of this country.
As a mother to a 2-year-old son who has forced herself, against all odds and contrary to the evidence at hand, to look at the world through rose-colored glasses in the hopes that our country will become a more equal, progressive, inclusive, and safe haven, I am nothing if not incredibly disappointed with the results of the election so far.
As a woman who's also a sexual assault survivor, I am scared. Not only am I potentially staring a Trump presidency squarely in the eye, I'm also left with the horrific reminder that even if Trump doesn't become the leader of the free world, at least half the men in this county thinks the way he does.