What it’s like to be a 21 year old Feminist in the era of 45...
I was 12 years old when Barack Obama was elected President. I now think daily about how thankful I am to have spent the formative years of my life under the Obama Administration because I was able to witness so many great strides for all Americans while I was coming into my own and figuring out my own particular views and beliefs about life.
When I was around 17 I began to hear this word “feminist” and I started to think about how it applied to me and how the things I believed in aligned with feminism and the philosophy that comes with it. Now, as a 21 year old college student, I live everyday as an outspoken intersectional feminist and as a part of the Feminist community on my college campus.
Eight months ago, on November 8th, 2016, I sat in the living room of my best friend's house as we watched the news with the hopes that history would be made for the better. Instead, I went home and cried to myself when I heard the house of boys that lived next door cheering at the results and was reminded the southern school I’ve fallen in love with has flaws that I can’t always overlook. For the next couple weeks, my friends and I avoided campus as much as possible for the fear of seeing classmates in “MAGA” gear because of the discomfort and fear those words made us feel. It was a harsh wake up call. We asked ourselves how this could have happened? How could the polls have been so wrong?
At the time of writing this, it has now been 234 days since 45 was elected and 162 days that he has served as the 45th president of The United States of America. When 45 was first elected, I held out hope. Hope that it wouldn’t, that it couldn’t, be that bad. Instead, I feel like I’m always waiting for the next shoe to drop. I’m always waiting to find out which right I’m going to lose next.
In addition, he has taken to Twitter almost daily to prove that he has no respect for those who have a different opinion as him, and no respect for women. He tweets regularly, but never has the time to acknowledge any of the 14 trans individuals that have been unjustly taken from us this year already. Or the 17 year old Muslim girl killed during the month of Ramadan while walking home from the Mosque. Or the men killed in Oregon just weeks ago for defending two young Muslim women. When he does take the time to acknowledge an act of hatred against people of minority groups, it is to congratulate himself for “being right on radical Islamic terrorism,” like he did following one of the worst mass shootings in the US that was specifically aimed at the Queer Latinx community.
It is behavior like this that angers me because I am constantly dealing with the stereotypes that millennials rely on social media too much and are destroying our country and our economy. In reality, it is 45 and his generation that are doing exactly this. The constant Twitter attacks and use of ad hominem attacks on women by the man who represents our country to the world are ridiculous. Just this last week, 45 tweeted about Mika Brzezinski, an MSNBC host, attacking her by calling her “low I.Q. Crazy Mika” and saying that he didn’t allow her to attend his Mar-a-Lago New Year’s celebration because she was recovering from a face-lift. These attacks on women are absurd and unnecessary. Our society should be at a place now where we realize that using the word “crazy” against women is gross and absurd. The idea that a woman who is passionate about something or doesn’t agree with you is then just “crazy” is nonsense. We need to stop calling women crazy and start allowing women, especially black women, to experience and express the same emotions that men do without being ridiculed or made out to be unstable.
This behavior sets a precedent for future generations of the United States. How can we expect to raise boys that respect girls when the President of the United States shows no respect for women on a regular basis? How can we expect to make this world and our country a safe place for LGBTQ+ individuals when the White House refuses to even acknowledge Pride Month for the entire month of June? How can we help immigrants and people of color feel safe in our country when they are regularly and routinely persecuted by our government?
These are hard questions to answer and I am by no means qualified to answer them. But they are important to ask, because it is important to remind ourselves every day why we are fighting and what it is we are fighting for.
---AFAR's summer intern, Susan Locke, shares her thoughts on being a millennial feminist in the era of President Trump. Susan is a rising senior at University of South Carolina and is majoring Women's and Gender Studies.