• Trish MacEnulty

Message for a Friend

Dearest dear friend,

First of all, I love you. You are one of the sweetest and most charming men I know. And I know that you are a caring and compassionate person, which is why I and so many others were baffled when your Facebook post sympathized with those who “dissed” the women marching in Washington and all over the world. And earlier (before I even saw the post) when I pointed out to you that there were many men at the march, you asked if they were gay? As if a straight man would never march side by side with his wife, girlfriend, mother, or sister and demand respect for her and her rights. But they did, friend. Men, standing next to their girlfriends, holding up signs that said “Feminist.” Men holding up signs saying, “I’m with her” with arrows pointing in all directions. Men holding the hands of their daughters. Old men marching next to old women. Straight men with other straight men. And gay men with gay women. Black men. And white men. You should have been there.

But let’s get back to your post. Do you believe that people who are white and privileged have no business being out there, marching and protesting? Why? Should they not stand in solidarity with the people who are not privileged — the young women in danger of losing their reproductive rights, the black men and women who believe deeply that “Black Lives Matter” as much as white lives, the immigrants who are terrified of being sent back to countries where their lives are meaningless? If you’re white and free from these worries, you should keep your mouth shut? Be a good German?

You said we should have compassion for the ones who supported Trump. That instead of speaking out we should look within to find out what we did to deserve this. I have a question for you, and it’s not meant to be disrespectful though it will certainly sound that way. Has a man ever tried to stick his dick inside you? Has someone with whom you were not in a romantic or sexual relationship ever come up to you and put their hands on your genitals? These things may have happened to you. They do happen to men. But more often they happen to women. Even the most “privileged” among us has probably experienced some kind of assault. My first experience was as a witness when I was seven years old and a man broke down our back door, dragged my screaming mother out of the house and proceeded to rape her. Then when I was twelve, a friend’s older brother pulled me into the bathroom and molested me. As I got older, three different men forcibly had sex with me. My self-esteem was destroyed.

You seem to think that these are “pleasant feelings” of superiority over Trump’s supporters. They are not pleasant feelings. In fact, they are feelings of shame, hurt, and betrayal. When we look at Donald Trump, we see a sexual predator. This is not based merely on “feelings” but on things he has said and done and on the word of other women. And we feel betrayed by the people who voted for him. Someday we may be able to have compassion for them, but give us a little time.

Speaking for myself, I would love to be that forgiving, compassionate, turn-the-other-cheek Christ-like figure. But I’m not there. Right now my compassion is for those who may suffer most under this administration. While I admire you for seeking to understand why some people thought Trump was the better choice, I need to direct my attention to those who didn’t understand the ramifications of not voting at all and to offer moral support to those who, as you say, “lost.” There are a lot of us feeling “lost.” Through marching, through speaking out, we hope to find ourselves again, to find a voice, and to do what we can to influence the forces for good in government and in the private sector.

I believed that I didn’t need to explain myself to those who didn’t understand why we marched. But when it was you — someone I care for so deeply — then I had to say something. Of course, there’s more. I could explain that while I don’t know everything about Trump supporters, I don’t live in a bubble. I have relatives who voted for him because they wanted to see Obama and Hilary locked up, and they want expanded gun rights. These are people who have never suffered any want in their lives, but for some reason they’re afraid that someone is going to take away their rights. In fact, they want me to get a gun. So I can live in fear as they do. And I know others who believe that the lives of the “unborn” are more important than the rights of women, more important than issues of character, and more important than the climate. I don’t hate these people, but I have no respect for their limited idea of what it means to be a Christian, for their limited idea of God and of life -- as if life could ever be snuffed out. Finally, I lived with a right-wing Republican for more than 20 years. And I have seen the blatant disregard for others in that world-view. I loved that person but that did not blind me to the misguided nature of his views.

So for me, the time for self-reflection is over. It’s time to act. I’m not sure how. I tend to be a more private person. I’d rather sit around and read poetry. So I begin by marching with others, by shouting slogans and chants and by listening to their ideas. Even the ideas of someone as “white and privileged” as Michael Moore. I hope by joining in solidarity with all those who are so deeply disappointed in the outcome of this election, I can offer hope that they are not alone. And I will continue to educate myself and push for a more progressive agenda. I agree with you when you say that the Democrat party needs an overhaul. Obviously, it does. And it begins here. With marching, with empowerment, with joining together in love.

I saw a fierce little girl at the march — shouting and dragging her father behind her. I believe that little girl or someone like her may very well be one of the ones who makes a difference in the future. This march was not against Trump or his supporters. It was for her.

That's what I needed to tell you, my friend. I cherish you. And I hope you do not feel attacked, for that is not my intention.





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