It has barely been a week since the outcome of the elections and the injustices perpetuated by Donald Trump's rhetoric have already rippled across the country. Within a week, I have had a man walk up next to me, stare me down and tell me, 'Go back to your country, Muslim.' I am not Muslim. Within a week, I have had a man grab my ass and whisper into my ear, 'At least it wasn't your pussy.' For the minority groups who have feared the rise of Trump, such instances of violence and degradation are only just the beginning in Trump's America.
In my traditional Indian upbringing, my gender has been the greatest source of trials and tribulations. To have even survived female foeticide is a feat in itself. To be able to claim an education over succumbing to domesticity was another next hurdle, let alone receiving a college education. I have made it through college but the next obstacle is securing a full-time job and building a career without being married off by the time I graduate this year. Yet when I do choose to settle down, I would be lucky not to have to make a trade-off between my career and my family because of societal pressure.
Every challenge is a reminder of the glass ceiling that seems impenetrable despite my incessant hammering. At this point, I see only darkness beyond the glass ceiling. I am unable to envision my own future because I see only hurdles, each one ready to crush any little flicker of hope I might possess. I see only a dead-end.
Coming to America, I was given a taste of the freedom, independence, and ambition that every woman should be entitled to. In the past three years, I have lived a life that would be unthinkable for most women back home. But even then it came with a price. I juggled a full course load, two different jobs, an extracurricular activity, and familial obligations for most of my college career. Behind every accomplishment thus far are sleepless nights, compromises, sweat, and tears because everyday I have to prove my determination and my capability. Falling is only an option if I want to settle for the easy solution of getting married. I have to take responsibility of myself so that my intellect is not belittled and my domesticity is not emphasized. So yes, I take Clinton’s defeat personally.
I had hoped that this country would reaffirm my belief that us women could be whomever we wanted to be so long as we continue to strive for our dreams. It felt like being punched in the chest when the election results rolled in because it showed me that even an extremely qualified and capable woman with 30 years of experience in public service had to concede to a demagogue devoid of any accreditation except multiple lawsuits and bankruptcies, zero impulse control, and absolutely no policy experience.
I may not necessarily agree with Clinton completely and absolutely, but I respect her for fighting so valiantly. She has persevered against pneumonia, public humiliation, a womanizer husband and endless criticism, and still she sees her world crumble before her eyes. Nonetheless, in her concession speech she remained poised and dignified. She poured words of encouragement and reassured little girls that hope persists. Her struggle reminds me of the very essence that makes us women: our perseverance. Women will be beat down, harassed, raped, ridiculed, misunderstood, and denied opportunities and basic rights. They will be labelled pejorative terms. They will be jeered for feeling too much, saying sorry too much, being too aggressive, too nice, too fat, too mean. And still, they will continue to swim against the tide without losing their vigor. They will get up again and again without losing humanity for others. They will fight through the tears and continue to move forward.
Us women do not have the time to mope because we are too busy getting shit done. We show up every single day even when we can barely crawl out of bed. Just as Shannon Mehner writes, “We don’t shatter glass ceilings; we beat them over and over again with a tiny resilient hammer until one day they crack, and the next they crack a little more.”