I was 7 years old when I asked my mom: “Why aren’t there any naked men?”
We were watching Beatlemania and breasts blossomed across the stage’s backdrop. The boy band sang “Strawberry Fields Forever” while fully dressed in clothes.
My mom shushed me. But I didn’t ask out of perversion or nastiness.
I asked because I have always been obsessed with power.
With who has it and how and why? And in this case, naked women did not. I don’t remember having ever had the luxury of trusting this world. By the time Roots premiered on television in 1977, my suspicions were confirmed. This was an unfair and violent nation. White-skinned men did most of the talking–on television and otherwise.
Beauty and goodness were also sources of confusion. Alice in Wonderland, at the drive-in at 4, was marred by the desperate fate of clams and the edict, “Off with her head.” Because they might really do it. It was clear that every unthinkable violence had already happened. Vulnerability was dangerous.
I began to see the world in code.
In the plain bones of its architecture. And in that unceasing complexity as I moved through school, then college. Who has power and how and why?
Who gets to wear clothes in movies? Who gets cast as a slave.? Who gets to marry who? Who gets to work what job? Who gets paid and how much? Who gets health care? Who has to die? Who gets to vote?
My country was structured on inequality. History lessons proved it was built upon it as well. I did not decide on feminism. It took hold of me, as the default setting of my observant nature, fifteen years before I learned the term.
The man lays bare the soul of the GOP, the one I first detected when Ronald Reagan spoke on television. He was easy to decipher. Crime. Economics. Fear. He meant that blacks were a blight and certain white men should prosper. That’s what he said to me when I was 13 without ever really saying it. Trump is the Tyler Durden of America’s corporate Id. There is nothing new here. I thank Trump for opening wide the men’s club, its locker room. And for taking off the hood.
She reminds me of me. What I mean is that I’ve been systematically attacked in a similar way that she has–as have most women. When I heard someone say she shouldn’t campaign while she looked so “haggard,” I thought of all the comments on my looks lately. That I look so “tired.” “Just beyond tired.”
I wonder if she wears pants for the same reasons I do–to keep focus off of my legs, oft-deemed “chunky” and “short,” so I can get things done without distraction.
But most of all, I am reminded of that set of lawyers who came after me. They also named me “crooked,” although that was the least of it. I was accused of being a prostitute. A child abuser. A rioter. A savage. A liar. A witch. A slacker. A cow.
I was exonerated.
But then they would wait a few months or years, find a new angle and start up again. Men would interrupt me and mutter slurs while I testified to true things.
My emails were carefully examined by legal teams, judges, mediators, court appointees. Hundreds of emails. My words taken out of context. Sometimes rearranged and pasted together in attempts to expose my “corruption.”
In the final suit, they submitted a motion requesting I be “locked up.”
I was fully cleared and absolved. Vindicated. As usual.
But I know how it feels to be falsely accused, damned, defamed and hated. I know what it is like to have official forces conspire to destroy you.
I am confident about Hilary Clinton’s integrity. Because I am also a woman who has endured (in my incomparably smaller realm) unceasing attack. I know what it takes to survive, and thrive, beyond it.
My court history does not have two sides, regardless of the adage that all of them do. It had an aspect defined as reality, built on lived experience and things known as facts. And it had another aspect built from lies. Not lies in the theoretical sense, or lies as in “alternate perspectives.” I mean actual, verifiable lies. A dissolution of truth.
But there were not “two sides” to any of it. There was one real part–and then there was the rewriting of that part. The negation of it.
Likewise, our collective nation exists far beyond our simplistic binary impression. The earth is round, after all, a fact once in doubt. It’s history verifiable. A record beyond “spin.”
To fear or eschew this intricacy and complexity is to fear the very world. I recommend instead, to seek to understand it. Who has power and how and why?
I did not vote for the lesser of two evils.
I voted for a highly qualified woman who has withstood unfair persecution with grace and character that have not impeded or distracted from her greater work.
I am not in despair over this country’s divide.
I am thrilled with the chasm Trump opened up and the woman who took its center. He pulled down the curtain. And she took up the helm in the face of that unbearable ugliness. She withstood it. And stood in it. And she was called “nasty.”
Nasty just means that you are an honest person of formidable intelligence who gets things done in a way that threatens conservative men.
Wait. That’s way too limiting a definition. Let’s expand that.
Nasty is everyone who knows what it means to be persecuted. Or those who have not been, but who can understand it. Nasty is everyone who survives. Who rises up. Nasty people say “I stand for your humanity.” Nasty means you would never vote for Trump. Because to do so means that you rationalize racism (and sexism, bullying, xenophobia, etc. etc.) and hide it behind support of economic policies that might benefit you personally on down the line. Such a stance is “nasty” in the factual sense. In the word’s most base use.
I mean “nasty” in the prismatic way us Pantsuits mean it. In that way that reaches true things while shifting the actual paradigm.
Power is shifting.
Do not despair, because this is thrilling.