Fighting misogyny one step at a time in an ever-changing climate
One aspect of being a teacher people don’t often talk about is bodily awareness. In other words, you are conscious of the way people may be perceiving your body and how they may be possibly judging you. The effect varies from person to person.
As a female teacher working in a male-dominated program, I am incredibly aware of my femininity when I’m up in front of a class. I can’t help but focus on how my clothes fit me and how become self-conscious about certain parts of my body. This awareness, to me, is usually neither positive nor negative—it is just there.
However, since Donald Trump won the United States presidential election, I no longer feel this awareness solely in situations where I am surrounded by men. I feel it all the time, and it is no longer a neutral feeling but a negative one. I have become self-conscious of being female.
I carry an invisible weight with me everywhere I go—sometimes it intensifies out of nowhere, like a panic attack. I’ll be at home working and suddenly wonder if my research will be taken less seriously because I am a woman. I’ll hear men debating about abortion and instead of responding rationally like I normally would, I become consumed by rage that people who will never be in that situation are trying to tell me what I can do with my own body. I’ll walk through the halls of my school and hear a male student tell a female student, “you only think that because you’re a woman.”
I am tired. I am so very tired. And I succumb to the inescapable thoughts circulating in the darkness of my mind: “I am not a human being…I am a woman.”
I have always been proud to be female. By being a proud and successful woman, I always felt I was proving to the world that women can do anything we set our minds to and I never backed out of a fight to prove it.
Now, however, I feel like an injured lioness who needs to retreat in order to heal my battle wounds. I used to feel powerful but now all I feel is overwhelmed, and I wonder if other women and other groups targeted by Trump feel the same—like we’re being stripped of our humanity. Or perhaps, we never had it to begin with—it was all an illusion.
Donald Trump sets a precedent for saying and doing atrocious things, such as saying blatantly misogynous remarks about women and openly calling Hillary Clinton “a nasty woman.” We need to ban together and say that it is not okay. This is why I ask that, if you see someone being the target of violence, whether verbal or physical—intervene.
If you have a friend who is particularly affected by the events and rhetoric in the U.S, be patient and understanding with them. In a world where blatant misogyny, racism, xenophobia, homophobia and hate are on the rise, it is more important than ever to accept, love and support each other.
As my greatest fictional hero, Captain Jean-Luc Picard, captain of the starship Enterprise in Star Trek the Next Generation once said, “We think we’ve come so far. Torture of heretics, burning of witches, is all ancient history. Then, before you can blink an eye, suddenly, it threatens to start all over again… vigilance Mr. Worf. That is the price we must continually pay.”
Graphic by Florence Yee