No doubt because I am one, many of the people I know are 60-ish women.
And most of them, like me, are deeply unhappy right now.
“This one seems so personal,” one of them texted me a few days after the election.
It does. It is.
Here’s why: We’ve seen it all before. And we’d hoped, trusted that we wouldn’t have to see it again, not this way, not this loud, not this brutally.
For decades we’ve worked hard at our professions, kept our heads down, or not, as men in power did things that ranged from absurd to abusive.
I’ll grant that absurd has been more common, but that’s cold comfort. Women can’t be absurd and expect promotions and protection.
We’ve risen up. Now, unlike when we entered the workplace 40-plus years ago, women claim positions almost unheard of then: governor, editor, justice, partner, doctor, professor. And, in many cases, our male peers accept us as just that.
And we’ve done all this while honoring our families. We’ve chaperoned field trips, cared for elderly parents, edited college essays, planted gardens, cooked thousands of meals. We’ve respected the rules, the norms.
So, we might have hoped for a little better when one of us stuck her head up high enough to run for president.
No sentient person could miss the gender specific venom spewed at Hillary Clinton this past year. Many of them are words we don’t use in this newspaper but some we can, such as witch and two-faced. And not just from Trump supporters. Bernie Sanders enthusiasts, asked at a rally in February to describe Clinton came up with terms that included “Monica” and “whore.”
The crème de la crème, though, came from John Sununu, an establishment Republican, chief of staff for the first President Bush, only a few days before the election. Warming up the crowd at a Trump rally, he joked that when in a deposition President Bill Clinton said, “I did not have sex with that woman,” he was “referring to Hillary.” Har, har, har the boys in the audience yukked along with him.
Really? In 2016?
This does seem so personal.
And then there was the candidate himself, the person we must now call president-elect. We’ve seen it before. A bully, an abuser, a man who puffs up when he humiliates other people, the guy who always, always plays to the audience, which is always majority male. A person who, if you stripped away the money would just be another pitiful guy blathering in the subway, obnoxious in a bar.
Locker room talk, oh, yeah. We’ve heard it before.
I don’t think any of us thought we’d never hear it again. But we didn’t think we’d hear it this way, in this theater, from a person who wanted to be our president. And we certainly didn’t think enough men and women in this country would endorse it to make him president. In a way they didn’t, Clinton did win the popular vote but, again, we’ve been here before.
Kelleyanne Conway, Trump’s last campaign spokesperson, now a top aide, told a 17-year-old girl the other day that she was glad women had looked past the many and substantial accusations of sexual abuse by Trump to realize, “that's an argument that will not create a single job in my community … will not deter one member of ISIS from doing their bloodletting here or anywhere else in the world.”
We’ve heard that before, too. The good women take a hit for their families, their communities, their country. How small minded women must be who whine about grabbing them by —another word we can’t use — when men of affairs are trying their best to save us.
I loved the TV series “Mad Men.” My daughter and I watched it together last summer in the few months she was home before launching her own career. I could slip into the ’60s world of Don and Roger, Joan and Peggy, sure my daughter would not be confronted with what those women faced. And she won’t. I hope.
But I’m very angry that now that’s a hope and not a certainty.
This one is so personal.
Jacalyn Carfagno is an editorial writer for the Herald-Leader. Reach her at 859-231-1652 or jcarfagno