What is a Woman’s Worth?
By Kim D. Bailey
With all that’s going on this week after the election, this question bears asking and answering, with gritty insight and truth.
Many of my female friends are feeling betrayed at this juncture in our American journey. I won’t go into the politics of this too much, except to say that we have a President-elect who does not instill, for our national identity as women, a respect for us. Nor does he practice any respect for women on a personal level.
With that said, I want to address the women, and some of our brothers out there who are feeling lost and frightened by this new reality that is upon us.
Aside from the obviously egregious responses and actions being made by this new administration to race, freedom of religion, cultural diversity, and LGBTQ issues, our sense of worth as women has been compromised by the electoral vote of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States of America.
Those of us who are voicing these concerns are being met with deflating rhetoric. We are being told to calm down, get over it, give him a chance to show he’s not so bad, and sometimes—we are being told we don’t even have a right to voice our thoughts and feelings because we are intrinsically flawed in our thinking and feeling.
We are being called horrific names. Cunt, Whore, Slut, Stupid, Libtard, Bitch. We are being attacked at the very core of who we are—as women—for having an opinion outside the collective conscience of those who either voted for the PE or who abstained from voting altogether.
The latter is a dismally large number, by the way.
Of those who voted for the PE, many were women. Our sisters, mothers, aunts, nieces, daughters, cousins, grandmothers, and friends. Their reasons are their own—as we all have a right to vote for whom we choose—but their responses to our outrage is just as harmful as that of their male counterparts.
None of these responses reflect any truth as to our actual worth.
Women have fought long and hard for the rights and responsibilities that our male counterparts have enjoyed and born out. We were even behind African American men in the right to vote, not obtaining this right on a national level until 1920, over 70 years after the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, the first women’s rights convention.
Nearly 170 years later, many of us voted for Hillary Clinton. In fact, the numbers are coming in, and in the popular vote, Ms. Clinton received upwards of 2 million more votes than did Donald Trump. More women voted for her than did men. Many women who voted for her are college educated to some degree.
As with any election, there is a winner and a loser. So, in this case, more than half of all those who voted in this election are grieving the loss.
But it isn’t just about losing.
For the first time in our history, a woman ran for president of our country. As a lifelong politician and public servant, Ms. Clinton was a strong candidate, especially in her demeanor, experience, and ability to work in a bipartisan manner for the good of the whole.
Therefore, many of us are grieving not just a loss, but the loss of a lifelong dream we have held that a woman could president of our nation and do a good job—as well, if not better—than any man.
We are hurting. We see this loss as a setback, because in so many ways, it is.
Not only did Clinton lose, she lost to a man who openly espoused sexual harassment as a normal part of his day-to-day life. He is also facing charges of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and even sexual molestation of a minor. In addition, he has been charged with fraud (racketeering) related to his failed Trump University business, he has somehow managed to avoid paying taxes for years (of which he brags), and he is in the process of building a cabinet that encompasses known Anti-Semite(s), a VP who is openly and harshly opposed to Roe vs. Wade and LGBTQ rights, and even includes his grown children as part of his special team. By the way, this a clear conflict of interest as they will continue to run his private businesses while he leads the country—with their assistance.
What were Clinton’s sins? The vitriol against her flaws, as opposed to his, was disproportionately astonishing. Emails. Being unlikable. Not smiling. Being hard and firm, even an evil bitch. Being part of an established form of government that people were sick and tired of supporting.
Being a woman.
Yes, I said it. Being a woman.
Our country voted for a misogynistic, criminal, unethical, and racist man over an imperfect woman.
I’ve heard some of my male friends—who I believe are well-intentioned and who believe they mean no harm—say that if it were only a different woman, maybe Elizabeth Warren for example, who had been chosen for the nomination to run for president by either major party, a woman may have made history this election year.
Beside being a crock of shit, this has become a tired refrain that diminishes reality and insults us further as women. The hard truth is, our country wasn’t ready for a female to lead.
Back to us, we are now in a reactionary dance. When we express ourselves, we are being attacked from so many sides, imploring us to accept what is. We are being told we still don’t measure up.
When we are admonished for our opinions and feelings, we are hurt, and sometimes our response is anger and pain.
The root of this anger and pain, however, lies in abject fear on all sides.
Men see us as a threat. They truly do. Even when they deny it, there is a niggling sense of intimidation in most men’s minds that we are overcoming and surpassing them at alarming rates. For a society that has been rooted in patriarchy, this is a tough pill to swallow. Their fear became woefully evident in the results of the election. And this was supported by women who believe that men are to hold the power because they are indeed the stronger sex.
Women who did not vote for him are reacting to all manner of attacks and berating comments out of fear as well. We are afraid we will never be taken seriously, respected, or honored. We are quite certain that we shall never be fully heard.
When you stand in your own silence for so long, only hearing the echo of your voice off the canyon walls when you shout your worth to the universe, it’s hard to accept other’s reprimands and not-so-gentle advice to calm down. It’s even more difficult to be told to shut the fuck up.
So many of the responses we continue to receive are various forms of gaslighting, which as described by Oxford Dictionaries, is a verb: manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.
We see it and hear it every day. Our female friends are saying, “There must be something wrong with me.” Or they say, “I’m sorry, but, maybe I’m not thinking this out like I should…,” when they question this continued status quo. When hit with a barrage of gaslighting, or overt verbal abuse, many of us fold back into ourselves and believe the lie. We return to that place where we think we are asking, even expecting, too much to be heard and validated.
My call to action today to all women is not to give into this lie.
We must gather our strength and courage, more than ever now, and continue to stand for our worth.
Our worth is intrinsic. It does not rely on our abilities to “do a man’s job” well. Women are equally worthy as men to inhabit any space in this world. We need to embrace that worth and reiterate it to the world over and over until it becomes an unquestionable fact.
So, enough with the rhetoric.
If you feel your feet slipping on the icy slopes of the lie that we are not as capable and worthy, remind yourself that you are so much more than what others want you to believe. Do not back down under chastisement or shame for speaking out. Do not allow anyone—man or woman—to make you question your truth and your place in this world.
Pull out the threads of the tapestry that is the lie and weave your own. Then cover yourself in this fabric of authenticity.
WE as women are worthy, simply because we ARE. Once we believe that, there will be no stopping us.
Kim Bailey Deal writes Women’s Fiction, short stories, poetry, and nonfiction. She has written two novels, now in revision. She authors a weekly column and is former Social Media Manager for www.five2onemagazine.com. Kim has several works published, including in Firefly Magazine Issue #3, on Writersdigest.com, Pilcrow & Dagger, Tuck Magazine, The Scarlet Leaf Review, Madness Muse Magazine, Drunk Monkeys, and forthcoming publications in Sick Lit Magazine, The Magnitizdat Literary, and Firefly Magazine Issue #8. A mother of four, she lives near Chattanooga, TN. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @kimbaileydeal and her blog at www.kimbaileydeal.net