Why I Won’t Be Coming to Holiday Dinner


Dear Family Member I Love:

I can’t go to holiday dinner this year.  It’s not because of “politics.” It’s not because I can’t stomach points of view that differ from my own.  It’s not because our “world views” are different. It’s because our worlds are different.

In my world, you stand up to bullies. In my world, you don’t tolerate talk about stripping gays, women, Muslims and others of their rights.  In my world, corruption, rampant lies and hypocrisy are not things to be dismissed. In my world, facts speak louder than opinions.  In my world, racism and anti-Semitism are not only not tolerated, they are condemned and attacked.

I’ve heard what Trump supporters say. “I didn’t vote for those things.” It’s okay; I get it. Maybe you didn’t vote for “those things.” But you voted alongside them. Your vote said “those things” weren’t important. Your vote said they don’t matter. What you don’t seem to get is that your vote said I don’t matter.

You supported and continue to support a man who uses anti-Semitic dog whistles and tired tropes. A man who appoints people who flagrantly represent hatred, race-baiting and bigotry.  This man espouses policies that talk of converting gays, creating religious registries, allowing hate speech and discrimination (the First Amendment Defense Act), punishing women who have abortions, and taking away more than half the population’s protections and freedoms. You celebrated the victory of a man celebrated by the KKK and White Supremacists. You may not have voted for this man because he ran his campaign on racist, sexist and homophobic platforms, but you didn’t let it stop you.

You didn’t let it stop you that this man consistently talks about women like we’re pieces of meat to be discarded like beef from his failed Trump Steaks enterprise. You overlooked the fact that he brags about sexually assaulting women, and then slanders, demeans and threatens them when they dare mention it.  It doesn’t bother you that the soon-to-be leader of the Free World tweets in the wee hours telling people to search for non-existent sex tapes to punish women he’s already publicly humiliated.  He boasts in interviews about walking in on teenagers while they’re dressing. He tweets that military women are raped because they shouldn’t be there in the first place. You embrace a world leader who, when journalists ask questions he doesn’t like, mocks their physicality and opines about their menstrual cycles. 

That’s the world Trump lives in, and you’re fine with that. But I have to live in Trump’s world too.  And I’m not fine with it.

All my life people have been grabbing my pussy, and worse. To hurt me, to humble me, or like Trump, just because they could. But here’s what’s wounded me even more. All my life people whom I have loved and trusted have been okay with it. Said nothing, did nothing, didn’t care. Supporting Trump, even tolerating Trump, is like looking me in the eye and telling me that this is all not a big deal. Bragging about sexual assault, slandering the victims, evaluating women on their appearance, making cruel jokes about women – all okay. Trump supporters are telling me that treating women this way, thinking about women this way, is not a deal-breaker. Since I’m a woman, it means thinking about me this way is all okay. It’s saying to me that these things are not a big deal because I’m not a big deal. My humanity, my intelligence, feelings, safety, dignity – none of those matter. I don’t matter.

And that, beloved family member and friend, is not okay.

Reasonable people can disagree on foreign policy, bank deregulation and tax codes. We can even disagree about teaching Creationism in schools and about climate change – despite the fact I see your position as a dangerous threat to me and the planet. We can disagree about politics and even laugh about it. But some things are not laughing matters.

Some things really do matter. I’m trying to lovingly tell you that I can’t come to holiday dinner because I really do matter.

Because after all is said and done, I’m just speaking for myself.