“Why is Donald Trump inappropriate?” You asked today on the way home from the library, your impossibly enormous brown eyes completely guileless, gorgeous. Shit. You must’ve overheard the NPR program I was listening to, grimacing at the election outcome. Resisting once again that perpetual parental urge to tell you everything I think, I return the question: Do you think he is inappropriate? Why so?
“Yes,” you answer, without skipping a single beat, “because Raul told me.” (classmate) ‘Does Raul know a lot?’ I ask. You pause briefly before answering, “He’s just a first grader; but he’s taller than me”. Ah. (A germane detail in a 3rd grader’s social hierarchy.)
‘Sooo what did Raul say about Donald Trump?’’ I offer perkily, trying not to raise any communication alarms: Alert! Mom Wants To Know! Stop Talking Immediately. Oh yeah. Smooth. You pause: “Well, it’s inappropriate to say it again.”
‘You won’t be in trouble,’ I frown-smile reassuringly(? I hope!); after 8 years of attempts at perfecting this tone I’m still apparently unconvincing because you scratch the leather top of the bucket seat you’re buckled into, nostrils flaring skeptically. It’s all I can do to breathe and gather patience, smoking an imaginary joint, waiting for any answer as the grey November sunshine streams through the car window onto your curls and smudgy baseball cap.
“Raul says he’s inappropriate because he touches women’s vaginas.” OH. Okay. Here we go. I’m actually having this conversation with an 8 year old. My 8 year old. It isn’t the first time we’ve broached the subject of sexual violation – unfortunately – but it’s definitely a new experience today. Because today, I get to explain to my kid that what she thinks is inappropriate, and Raul thinks is inappropriate, is barely the tip of the iceberg. We have entered a whole new galaxy of inappropriate, Babygirl.
Scrambling to create a kid-friendly version of the situation, I return to a consistent recurring theme when situations like this arise (and oh, they arise a lot more than you want to know): body autonomy. I try to translate a bit of the garbagesuckfest that is our current media cycle into her tender little ears – slowly, without excess reactiveness:
“I think your friend heard the same news story I did; it’s a little more complicated than just that.”
Wait for answer; nothing
“The problem isn’t necessarily with touching; the problem is that he was actually really bragging about touching someone without their permission in a way and place that requires permission.”
“The vagina and vulva are very private places, and it’s not right for anyone to force someone else to do something with their body they don’t want to do. It’s not right for anyone to do that, ever. But someone who behaves this way should not have the ability to make decisions about anyone else’s body, since they don’t understand respect. And in the United States, presidents have the power to make decisions about all of us, so it’s an even bigger deal when Donald Trump brags about this.”
Nothing… i’m dying… interact with me pleeeease
“So,” trying to lob it back to you – my little 8 year old sparkling sunbeam of pure curiosity and brutally cruel honesty – I feebly add, “does any of that make sense?”
Shrugging, you mumble, “Sort of, except for if everybody knew he does that then why did they still vote for him?”
Yeah. Good question.
This is the part I really want to protect her from: the part where shit gets scary. Because it’s the same question I have.
I’m less concerned that the candidate I least wanted to elect was elected – there’s a pretty consistent pattern and high probability of this occurring. We still have a mystifyingly stupid 2-party system here, and every 4 to 8 years, ½ the population is pissed and threatens to move to Canada, (why is it always Canada, seriously? I can think of no less than 20 countries I would much rather explore) or buy more guns, or protest, or start #notmypresident hashtags (way to go guys! Super helpful solution.) but then it usually chills out and the presidents get more moderate. And every time I’ve watched Old Pumpkin Cheeks blather on about whatever nonsense he’s spouting, I usually come to the conclusion that like so many bullies, Trump is all talk but no game. I look for the bright side and I cross my fingers but Trump himself – he’s not what scares me.
What scares me is how many people either deliberately ignored, excused, or admired his execrable, repugnant behaviour during the campaign and in general – to say nothing of the fact that he is appallingly stupid but I guess that part doesn’t even matter anymore.
So many people who are crowing over their “win” but are sadly ignorant to what this represents for planet earth. I honestly believe that whatever else Trump & co. try to accomplish, we can recover from eventually – the racism, the blatant celebration of tawdriness and arrogance, even the brash and antiquated legislative measures. None of that is or must be permanent. But we get only one earth, and the electorate just collectively spoke and literally said, “to hell with it”.
Speaking of hell, I see many people who claim some iteration of the christian faith dictates their lives, praising their god and dutifully nodding that they will hang a picture of Dtrump right above their prayer rug, thanking the lord for such a blessing. Not quite sure how that squares with their collective previous assessment that Obama was a punishment from above for cultural abominations. Or wasn’t Obama supposed to be the anti-christ?! I can never keep up!
Sidenote: If Obama was the anti-christ, I have to say the book was way better than the movie. Letdown! Revelations promised us like, heads with snakes and exciting stuff like that. All we got was a hot black nerd. Thanks Obama!
Anyhow, the logic doesn’t exactly square with that reasoning: the same god who cursed America with a mild-mannered bureaucrat now wants to bless us with a foul-mouthed idiotically aggressive bully? Okay y’all. I know the churchies have never been real huge on logic or reason but this goes beyond the pale.
Like don’t christians wonder whether or not they have some degree of responsibility in openly rejecting ANY candidate who will not also openly reject any association with the KKK? Really makes you wonder. You and the KKK are rooting for the same carnival barker. But maybe that’s just another attempt by the devil to confuse us all? There’s got to be a way to make sure that you are 100% correct without having a little uncomfortable truth get in your way, right? At least we’ll be spared from the christians bemoaning how they are some sort of persecuted minority here, while simultaneously refusing to acknowledge any other minority’s legitimate struggle. At least. Brightside?
I look for the bright side whenever I can. This has been a recurring theme in my life – whenever I feel the shadow of some impending doom, there’s usually something brighter on the other side. I hope for that now. But with the headlines already telling of an uptick in hate crimes, I truly feel afraid for the first time in a very very long time. But I can’t show that to BB – she’s 8. I have to believe there is a bright side, even to this.
How about this for a brightside observation: I’m actually really relieved that now people can at least see – blatantly – that this country has not gotten over its racism, that it’s alive and well and registered to vote. And now there’s a bright shiny orange spotlight calling attention to it. To all of the oh-so-well-informed liberals who are astonished that this could have happened – I am astonished at your astonishment. Every time I watched a debate I felt a deeper sense of dread – we are so accustomed to idiocy that we now demand it. Of course we would elect a pompous tit of rabble-rouser to be president. America is a racist mess and now it’s apparently proud of that. Time to wake up. Like I always tell BB, before we know how to fix a problem, we have to know what the problem is.
BB… back to my babygirl in the backseat of the car. There will be other days and other rants to come – and unfortunately, it won’t be the last time a topic I wish didn’t exist will be prompted by this man and the people who got him to the most powerful office in the world.
But for now, the conversation slowly returns to more comfortable topics – what she’s reading, where we will travel next, family members we miss, lollipop versus popsicles… the usual. We resume our sing-song pace, and I am reminded of how little she really is – even for an 8 year old, she seems unusually childish and immature. Sometimes I am so frustrated by this; but today, after the conversation topic forced upon us by the grownup world, I am truly thankful for her childish viewpoints and prattle. I know that it cannot last much longer.
So I’d like to thank everyone for dragging us into this circus. First of all, thanks to Donald Trump! You finally got your wish – you won something legit. Hope it’s so legit you quit. Special shout-out to ALL (and I really DO MEAN all – like, fuck you too, NPR) news media who gave Dtrump unceasing coverage. But I would really like to dedicate the previous recitation of this afternoon’s conversation about unwanted pussy-grabbing with my 8-year-old daughter to all the hypermoralistic smug religious peeps who have been celebrating the past couple of days. Special shout-outs to the “evangelical christians” who spent the last 8 years packing extra cans of baked beans for the coming crisis and wrath of god over the Reptilian Alien Lizard Lord Anti-Christ Obama. I hope you trip on your fancy white sheets at tonight’s cross burning.
And if any of my language here offended you, I understand. I myself am sickened by things like racism, environmental gluttony, and sexual assault. It would truly be a tragedy to trample upon your moral high ground with such heinous discourse, so I guess I’ll leave all of that up to your president.