I thought I had it together. I thought I was moving on, “getting over it” as the world kept telling me to. She lost, he won. The only thing we can do is keep fighting. We are seeds, we are safety pins, we are stronger together. So I picked myself up from the black hole of despair I had fallen into after Trump won and I got back to the business of life.
I worked on a new script. I took my 3-year-old daughter to preschool. I drove out to a kids’ consignment sale in the Valley. Because the fact that a racist, misogynistic ignorant hatred-spewing demagogue has been elected president doesn’t change the fact that my kid needed a new booster seat and jammies that fit.
The L.A. traffic was thick and my mind, as it does in heavy traffic, started to wander. I’m a comedy writer, but suddenly I was thinking up stories about post apocalyptic worlds where women revolt and take over the planet. I started thinking about writing a song. Something that captured everything I was feeling. A love song, a fight song. Something to show the world that I was still with Her.
I am her. The words flashed through my head. And suddenly, there on the 101 freeway, I was down the hole again. Tears streaming, sobs choking, heart breaking. The realization hitting me. I am Her.
And here was the core of my pain. This wasn’t just about the disappointment that my candidate lost. Or the fear of what Trump will do to this country. It felt like my very soul hurt and I realized that it was because of what this election said to me as a woman. It said no.
No, woman, stay in your place. No, woman, you are not good enough. No, woman, no matter what you do, you will not win, you will not be the boss of me.
It crushed a part of my female core to realize that yes, the world at large really does hate women that much. And while there are other reasons to dislike Hilary Clinton and disagree with her policies, misogyny and sexism are the gas that fuels the fire they burned her with.
We are supposed to stay quiet and not ask for much. Stay in our place and say please and thank you and don’t challenge anyone. We must be perfect, 10 times more perfect than the man beside us. And then we must wait for them to give us permission to follow their orders.
I have always been both a strong woman and a good girl. I got straight A’s. I was class president. I went to an Ivy League school and even gave the commencement address, just like Hillary. I sailed through a hurricane off the Cape of Good Hope as the only woman on a crew of eight men. I sold everything I owned and moved across the country in order to pursue my dream of being a screenwriter. I put my husband through nursing school while raising a daughter who doesn’t believe in sleeping through the night. I dream big dreams. I make hard choices. I don’t give up. Just like Hillary.
And yet every time I walk into a meeting, usually to try and sell a female-driven story, I have to sell my “likability” because I know only 26% of creators, writers, directors and producers in TV are women. And every time I walk down the street alone at night I have to hold my phone in my hand, finger ready to dial 911 should that man walking towards me decide that he’d like converse with me with some “locker room talk.”
Hillary Clinton did everything they told her to do. She smiled, she worked hard, she was polite and caring, she stayed calm. She was not a Bitch, even when she had every right to be. She wore just the right amount of make up, kept every hair in place. She did her best. She did the best. And still.
She sat in the front row, having studied and done all her homework. She raised her hand and the world would not call on her. Instead they pulled the bully, the lazy lying jerk, cheating on his test and blowing spitballs from the back of the class and made him the principal. Made him the President.
I am Her. Every woman is, whether she knows it or not. Every woman has been held back by, pushed down by, grabbed in the pussy by sexism that cannot, will not, allow a woman to rise higher than a man. The misogyny that pulses through this world, the blood that keeps the dick of American patriarchy hard, it penetrates us from the day we are born. Smile pretty and stay quiet.
Hillary gave me hope. Things were going to be different. For me and my daughter.
The broken shards of the glass ceiling crumbling to glitter dust beneath our empowered feet. We were going to dance together in the fresh air of that open sky, nothing to keep our hands from reaching for the sun. It was an exciting, inspiring time to be a woman.
But now that hope feels gone. Every day a new story about a woman being harassed or assaulted in the name of Trump. A new promise to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, to abolish Roe v. Wade. A new appointment of someone like Steve Bannon, an open misogynist. We cracked the ceiling and now the ceiling wants us to bleed.
Hillary Clinton stood up for women and when the world slapped her back down, my cheek felt the sting. I know that there is work to be done, battles to fight, toddlers to raise into Nasty Women. And so I keep driving. But even now as I seek the horizon, the words keep going through my head. I am Her. I am Her. And the tears keep falling.
This story originally appeared in Medium.
Eirene Donohue is a Vietnamese Irish screenwriter, originally from Rhode Island and currently living in Los Angeles.