My period made me nasty. My anger made me a bitch. My tears made me a child. My lust made me a slut. Too loud, a nag. Too soft, weak. Too big, unattractive. Too smart, a threat.

One moment, we are on fire, the next pushing through thickets and brambles, the next watching the wells run dry. All of these judgments and all these pounding voices foster doubt and yet, we persevere, bolstered by joy.

This is my version of being a woman and I know I am not alone. I have been glued to coverage of this election season, and I have been pressed into a self-awareness of my experience of life as a woman ways in which I could not have imagined.

I have watched the way that the media, the pundits and, of course, Donald Trump and his cronies have pummeled and trampled on Hillary Clinton, without the least shred of decency and far too often without the facts. Held to a different standard, she found that all aspects of her life, her appearance, her constitution, her comportment and her very humanity were questioned and reviled.

I lost track of how many times she needed to be more “human” in her delivery, as if she were inhuman.

Her many and varied accomplishments were ignored amidst all the talk of the Clinton scandals, which were constantly used to reinforce the narrative that she is a liar and corrupt — when nothing could be further from the truth. Male and female pundits alike helped to promote a version of Hillary Clinton that I don’t know after watching her for the past 25 years. Sadly, it didn’t surprise me. Most women are forced to operate under false assumptions when who we are does not fit into the expected paradigm.

Being held to a different set of rules is an experience that women know too well. There is a perfection expected of us that doesn’t apply to men. We need to have perfect bodies with perfect breasts, asses and legs.

From a very young age, we are made to realize that we are not as valuable. And there are very real consequences to these pervasive societal measures — young girls and young women develop eating disorders, such as bulimia and anorexia, that impact their quality of life, that kill too many.

Those of us passed the age of 50 learn that we have been written off in the job market as being past our prime when men, of course, have aged into their best years. Women over the age 50 are offered all kinds of remedies for their wrinkles and graying hair. Men just get more handsome.

And in keeping with all this, Hillary Clinton was judged on her looks, her stamina — as if women get older faster than men.

Donald Trump did not face that. Pundits never talked about his looks and barely mentioned his ever present sniffling at the debates. They gave voice and valuable air time to the ridiculous claims about Hillary Clinton’s health suffering.

And just like Trump may have done us a favor by bringing sexual assault to the forefront of national conversation by his prurient behavior, this election may very well have reawakened a sleeping giant — women.

We are 51% of the population. We are responsible for 85% of consumer spending. Women over 50 have for combined net worth of 19 trillion dollars.  But still, we are ignored by Madison Ave and advertisers. That may now no longer be possible. As we are set to elect the first woman president, if things go the way they are predicted to, it will be women who help to put Clinton in the White House. It will be women who finally said, enough.

Women are on fire.

Who do we have to thank for igniting a collective force of women young and old alike? Donald Trump. In his own words, he documented his treatment of women and pride in his sexual assaults. We heard him call women all kinds of names as he diminished almost everyone he had contact with to the sum of her looks.  According to him, certain women weren’t attractive enough to molest.

But it was Trump’s treatment of Hillary Clinton in the debates that reminded every single woman of all the shit we have had to endure.

Anyone truly willing to see what is happening, who isn’t caught up in Trump’s incoherent message, saw the disrespect, the interruptions, the ugly name calling, the looks and the stalking that she had to face.

But it was her response that showed us the way. She stood strong and controlled almost every second of all three debates. She waited for her moments and let Trump self-destruct.  And in the final debate, she gave voice to what we women have been thinking and feeling.

“Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger. He goes after their dignity, their self-worth, and I don’t think there is a woman anywhere that doesn’t know what that feels like.”

Yes, we all know what it feels like, and it is part of our collective history. But come November 8th, I have confidence that women will all let Donald Trump know that we have had enough. Millions of nasty women will be voting with enthusiasm for a woman whose time has come.

-Jan Harrison





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