If you’re following the presidential election at all (which of course you are, because you don’t live under a rock), you’ve likely heard the phrase “the Trump Effect”. There are a couple of different meanings to this. One is the impact Donald Trump’s candidacy could have on other races, a sort of “guilt by association” sentiment that could put GOP candidates in jeopardy of losing their elections. Another far more alarming meaning is the sad and scary phenomena highlighted by the Southern Poverty Law Center in a recent survey. It detailed the Trump Effect on our nation’s school children: reported spikes in bullying, fear, and anxiety. I’m long past school age, but I’ve felt some of those effects myself.
Like millions of people all over the country and the world, I’ve listened to Donald Trump spew his disdain for women time and time again. Whether it’s insinuating that he would never have sexually assaulted one of his many accusers because she wasn’t attractive enough, or boasting about how he can grab women “by the pussy” because he’s a star, or sexualizing young girls- including his own daughters- it’s sickening. As a woman, it’s enraging and depressing. But as a mother, it’s downright terrifying.
I’m grateful that at just 9 months old my daughter is too young to absorb the toxic atmosphere this campaign has created. The idea (however unlikely) that she could grow up in a country run by a man who, judging by both his words and his actions, has a complete lack of respect for women is abhorrent to me. I watch his speeches, I read his tweets, and I feel my blood pressure rising and rage roiling my stomach. I’m scared and angry, but I take solace in the fact that I’ve found a silver lining in the dark cloud hovering over our country thanks to Trump.
My own personal Trump effect is that I am more determined than ever to teach my daughter to stand up to men like him- men who use and abuse women, who believe a woman’s worth is in her looks, who believe women’s bodies are theirs for the taking. I’ll teach her that she is not and will never be a “piece of ass”. I’ll teach her that she should never be ashamed of her womanhood or feel inferior because of it. I’ll teach her to demand respect and remind her that any man unwilling to give it is unworthy.
These were lessons I knew my daughter needed to be taught long before Trump came along, of course. But the urgency is so much greater now and it’s only growing stronger- just look at all the people willing explain, excuse, and exculpate his behavior. So long as men like Trump exist and are vaunted, even deemed worthy of the highest office in the land… I’ll know that I have so much more to teach her.