This Is The Triggering Nature Of The 2016 Election

Flickr / Gage Skidmore
Flickr / Gage Skidmore

I am kneeling at the top of a hill. Three other women, faceless, are kneeling beside me: two on my right side and one on my left. Our hair is pulled up into buns that sit loosely on the top of our heads. Suddenly a man appears. He’s holding a sword. He comes up to us and one by one, chops off our buns. He then takes his sword and stabs me in my chest. He pulls it out slowly. I kneel there at his feet, gasping for air, feeling shamed and paralyzed among my fellow women.

I know, I woke up and thought the same thing: what the f*ck? But these are the kinds of dreams I’ve been having lately. My anxiety is at an all-time high. My therapist asked me the other day if I’ve been experiencing any stress outside of the usual cocktail of anxiety and existential worry. I’m quick to dismiss the question at first, but then back pedal. I think for a moment and say, “Actually yeah, the election.”


When I think of Trump I think of those men.


Experiences shape us, for better or worse and my experiences as a woman; my experiences with sexual harassment; of having my body objectified and stripped down until all that’s left is something sub-human; an object to be stomped on and disregarded; of being dismissed and underestimated — all of those experiences have culminated into a ball of anger and anxiety that sits in the pit of my stomach. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered ways to deal with this anxiety and anger, but over the past few months, it’s re-emerged and intensified.


In my head they’re 10 feet tall, with thin lips and slits for eyes. Their gnarled hands are clawing at my breasts and pushing me up against the wall, one of them hissing, “Look at you, you like that don’t you.” The other snickers beside him. They’re monsters. I can’t move. I am frozen and angry and scared. I feel helpless.


When I think of Trump, I am reminded of all of these things and more.


When I think of Trump, I think of that man who followed me home one night. I think of that time when my manager asked me what I was wearing underneath my clothes; of when one of my high school teachers hit on me when I was just 17.


These memories saturate my stream of consciousness and that ball of anger and anxiety swells in the pit of my stomach.


When I think of Trump, I think of all the times vulgar and disgusting words have been thrown at me while walking down the street, or while waiting for the subway or while buying groceries. I think of the man I saw masturbating in front of me when I was 6 years old. When I think of Trump, I think of the time I was forced to change into pants, because the harassment I received while walking to work one day, dressed in a skirt, caused me to have an anxiety attack on the street.


This election has been triggering for lack of a better word — I feel like I am constantly on edge. The fact that he is one of two people up for election for President of the United States is terrifying. It keeps me up at night and literally haunts my dreams. A year ago, I could joke about this. I thought it was hysterical that a lunatic such as himself thought he could be taken seriously as a presidential candidate. Yet here we are and I am no longer laughing. Donald Trump is dangerous. He is an extension of the worst kind of masculinity: virile and toxic thinking circulating around a damaged and deranged ego. He is a collective monster: a coagulation of the most vile parts of humanity and he must be stopped.


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