They’ve elected Donald Trump’s penis to the presidency. They’ve elected a man for simply being a man. I am standing in the garden, grinding my teeth. I can think of little else to do, with such news. I feel stopped in time, caught in this moment, this one single moment, that nothing and no one can make subside. Wind tosses the tree branches, above, as if to say, we are still here, the world still moves, you can move too. But, I cannot. I am stuck. A statue in a dying, November garden. I am turned to stone. An icy granite, absent of arms and legs. I am the Venus de Milo and my teeth hurt.
My mind wanders, though, it is ever active. A family party from my girlhood, my mother’s brothers, in a group, swigging beer and discussing women in the workforce. They shouted and laughed about women trying to be men. There were so many words, words I had never heard. Broad. Dyke. Bitch. Cunt. It seemed that the only thing worse than being a woman, was being a woman that wanted to do a man’s job. It took a penis to run a company or drive a truck. To fight fires or write a paycheck. It was the first time that I realized, that my body was turning into the most dreaded of things. A woman. Men whom had doted on and adored me as a little girl, would grow to dislike me, to distrust me, more and more, with each year that my body sprouted further into womanhood. I had a fleeting feeling of wishing to stop my body’s metamorphosis. To slow down the growth process. To be loved, freely, just a bit longer. I have little contact with those uncles now. I am a woman. They have little use, for the likes of me. Aside, from seeing me at the occasional family gathering. And telling me my hair looks pretty.
In the garden, over thirty years later, I think of them. I think of how happy they must be to have defeated a woman, again. To vote for a man that says all of the things publicly, that has been unacceptable for them to say out loud, for decades. The freedom they must feel, to finally vote for a man, just because he is a man. That women have gotten away with usurping their god given right to jobs and power for years, and they could help stop them from taking over this last job, that has always belonged, solely to men. I think, they must feel smugly on top. Smugly, in charge. Smugly, superior. That it has been such a long time, for them, for them to feel, as if they, the older white men, have stood their ground, and defended their status in life, the power they were promised as boys, that they would grow up one day to inherit. Simply for having a penis. I unclench my jaw. Unlock my knees. And drop myself into one of the metal garden chairs.
I muse over my first job, in a large department store, from high school, through my first college years. I was a good employee. I ran the department when my manager was away. I worked hard, and was paid very little, the minimum to be exact. My last year there, a young man was hired as my co-worker. In the stockroom, as I stood atop a ladder, I felt his hand snake up the back of my skirt, it startled me, and I slapped him away. I can still hear his laugh, as he walked out of the room. A cackle. A chuckle, really. In human resources, I lodged my complaint, the manager shrugged, shook his head, and said that my co-worker seemed like a good kid, probably had a crush on me. I made three more complaints. Three more hand up my skirt incidents, before they transferred me to a new department. Six months later, that good kid, with the slithering hands was promoted to department manager. I questioned his promotion, my being overlooked, my years of experience with the company, his blatant and unchecked sexual harassment. It seems I was too much drama, those slithering hands, were in my file. I was not a team player. I was too much trouble. They couldn’t risk it. During lunch, I went to my car and cried, then quit the following week.
And here, in the garden, on an overcast November day, there is a chill that reaches deep inside me, grabs at my bones, throbs an ache right behind my left eye, and makes me keep very still. If no one speaks to me, I am safe, I will not scream, nor cry, nor spit in the eye of any man who dares look at me. Two little girls, occupy my mind, ages six and seven, the daughters of my aunt’s daughter, influenced by a mother and a grandmother that proudly voted for Donald Trump. Being taught, that it is better to give a job to a man with no qualifications, than a woman with many. Their little girl heads being filled with the same words, I once heard. Broad. Dyke. Bitch. Cunt. I wonder if they will feel as I did, as they pass from girlhood into womanhood? Will they be angry or complacent? Will they believe that how a man treats women is less important than having a male president? Will they carry the burden of womanhood in a male dominated world, or just accept it, believe what they have been taught and continue the cycle?
I haven’t a clue, but as we rip out the pages, and burn the chapters, of the progress we have made, eradicating the first chance we have had at true gender equality, perhaps for generations to come, perhaps in my lifetime, I respectfully give back the hollow gift that is my right to vote. It is meaningless to me, the choice of voting for one old, white man over another. Limited options, to keep women in their place. Limited options, that are a slap in the face to every qualified woman that loses a job to a man, simply because he is a man, and she is not. Without a woman on the ballot, my conscience keeps me from punching that button, that green light of a vote, because none of them can truly represent me, only lead me, and I am fed up with being led.
Otherwise, it is just a choice, the same old worn out choice, between two penises. And they are all the same to me. Every goddamned one.