Last Friday, ratings powerhouse DJT asked a room full of women, as well as those of us at home (because the cameras were all over, trust him), if they had heard of Susan B. Anthony.
It was meant as a joke, no doubt. But it wasn’t funny. Probably because I don’t think anyone believes that our Commander in Chief actually knew who Anthony was before one of his PR consultants, excuse me, presidential advisors handed him a little notecard with her name on it and pushed him onstage to say it out loud, thus securing the female vote in four more years.
On Harriet Tubman, Donald said, “She was very, very courageous, believe me.”
Here’s the thing: No one needs to believe you. We know. We learned about Harriet Tubman from reports we wrote in the first grade. Then we learned some more in our high school US history classes. And then some of us dug a little deeper during our college capstone courses on the cultural impacts of the Civil War. We don’t need to take your word for it and it’s absurd to suggest that we should.
Is anyone else amazed that we’re only 2.5 months into this nonsense? Peter Sagal from Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me! said recently that every week of the DJT presidency feels like a year to us mere mortals. I can’t think of anything more accurate. Honestly, does this entire administration not seem like a middle school student government experiment that’s gone terribly awry? Like, we get it, this is all wrong. Just hurry up and bring in the teachers before we ruin everything and have to cancel summer break. We’ll happily have 2,000 words on your desk Monday morning about what we’ve learned from our mistake, just please, please FIX IT.
But no matter how ridiculous and uncomfortable things get, we can’t afford to check out. We can’t convince ourselves that this is someone else’s problem. Tina Fey took the opportunity last week to remind us that we got ourselves here and now we have to pay attention, even when that’s hard to do. And while we’re paying attention, we have to remain critical. We have to continue to question. We can’t allow ourselves to become placated by the simple fact that DJT has evolved from reveling in the sexual assault of women behind closed doors to standing in front of them, proclaiming that after careful consideration, it seems that women are permitted to aspire to success outside of the Miss Universe circuit.
Also, there is every reason to be insulted. Inviting a sexual predator to address the issue of gender equality is cloaked in about seven layers of slimy irony. Who’s next on the list? Is Steve Bannon set to host a consortium on the importance of diversity and the social constructs of race? Will Pat McCrory discuss the difficult reality of workplace discrimination and minorities? (Oh, wait, he already made that point without trying.)
I’ve said this before but I’m going to keep saying it: We’ve put up with good enough for long enough. Stop accepting it, start learning more about your local government, make your voice and your vote count. This country should represent hope for our future, not a fear of change, and we don’t owe it to anyone to move slowly in that direction. Let’s charge ahead if only to avoid falling behind like we did last October.
In my home state of North Carolina, HB2 was repealed this week. While this should have been cause for a Hallelujah chorus, it was a perfect example of what “good enough” looks like. Directives about where a transgender person can and cannot pee were rolled back, but in its place came a moratorium on LGBTQ+ “special protections.” Until 2020, no North Carolina city or municipality can create its own anti-discrimination ordinances. This means that LGBT people can be legally discriminated against in essentially any capacity.
I can only use my own life as an example, but here’s what I know about being gay, that most people fail to notice: You never stop coming out. Sure, you come out once and it’s a big deal. Then with every new person you meet, you have to rip the band-aid off again and you’re never sure of what the outcome will be. Combine this with job hunting and think of the possibilities. “You don’t have to tell an employer that you’re gay,” you might say to me. Yeah, that’s true. And you don’t have to tell an employer that you’re straight. But imagine working for a company for two, five, maybe ten years without ever mentioning that you’re married, for fear of losing your job. Without ever casually discussing your weekend plans with your family. Without wearing your wedding ring or keeping a framed photo on your desk. That would feel dishonest and probably very painful because you’re in a constant state of hiding. Almost as if you’re *gasp* in a work closet. My point: These aren’t special protections. They’re equal rights. And I’m done assuming less than my fair share.
I have my sights set on nothing short of 2020. Let’s hope we’re all seeing more clearly by then.