Opinion: We need to respond to this election with the “most powerful generation of female activism this nation has ever seen”

By Jacque Nelson | November 9, 2016 3:47pm

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I sat in the ASUP office and refreshed my computer screen late into the evening waiting for Politico to have it confirmed. I knew it was going to happen about an hour prior to when I actually gave up.

When Pennsylvania went red that night, I was swept away with an emotion I was truly not expecting – I felt like a fraud. I looked around out Student Government office, at my own desk, at my nameplate. I was sitting in a room in which I, as well as two other women, were elected into positions of leadership at this school. It’s a position I am proud of, a position I knew I was good at. And yet, when America spoke in favor of Donald Trump last night, for the briefest moment, I looked around the room I sat in and thought, I should not have a seat in here.

I believed this because last night we, as a nation, we were faced with the fact that women are still behind – We watched our nation take a stand against women.

Many people would like me to consider this not to be so black-and-white. Part of me wants to believe that not all Trump supporters are anti-women. And yet, I can't.

When we know what we know about Donald Trump; the sexual harassment allegations, the multiple accounts in which he has openly disrespected women, objectified them – how can we still allow ourselves to separate "Donald Trump the Politician" from "Donald Trump the Person"?

We have managed to convince ourselves that Trump's "policy" or "political reform" and the threat he has posed to woman (and many other marginalized groups) throughout his professional and political career are mutually exclusive. For the first time in American history we were able to truly meet the man behind the mask several times and conclude that he is still fit to be our president.

I didn't know how to justify this election. I didn't know how to take the hard facts and evidence of Trumps stance against women and justify those who voted for him. Last night, I didn't know how to take this election in any way other than defeat; when headlines read "Donald Trump Wins", all I could see was "American Women Lose".

When you've spent so long trying to stand up for your right to succeed only to be told by your own country to sit back down, its easy to forget why you believed in yourself in the first place. Last night the election had shaken me just enough for me to forget who I was.

This morning however, I woke up. I got ready for the day, I went back to the office and got to work. My name is on our ASUP door, along side two other powerful, passionate, intelligent women and three men who support us and treat us as equals. I remembered that as deafening as sexism may be and feel, we are never alone.

So, I still don't know how to justify this election – I only have an idea of what we can do next. Its time we all get back to work. Let this election result in the most powerful generation of female activism this nation has ever seen.

One voice alone can't create immediate change, but with patience, kindness, understanding and the persistence to move forward, we can make of this election what we want. When faced with a glass ceiling, we can choose to look up and admire the sun; we are not satisfied, but empowered to break through.

Jacque Nelson is a junior organizational communication and political science major and can be reached at nelsonj18@up.edu. 

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