Lest We Forget

Remembrance Day 2016

I am reeling. I thought it would just last a day or two, and then I would bounce back and get on with it… but I can’t bounce back. I am devastated by Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump (Why is he putting the J in there anyway? His father wasn’t President before him…). I have moved from the shock and denial,  and the rage, into full on depression. And because I am unemployed right now and my daughter is on a 4 day weekend from school, I have nothing to distract me from the endless news cycle of conversation about Hillary’s resounding defeat.

Over the past 8 years of Obama’s administration, I had grown ever more hopeful. I cried with elation at the election of America’s first African-American President. I cheered for the social progress I saw happening to the south of Canada’s border: marriage equality, racial tolerance, steady leadership and a new wave of feminism. There was backlash to be sure, but it only seemed to reinforce the march forward. Suddenly we were hearing about equal pay, affordable day care, campus rape and reproductive freedom. A Latina was appointed to the Supreme Court! The tide was turning! Hashtags like #blacklivesmatter and #shoutyourabortion were going viral and Bill Cosby is actually facing a rape charge! People were paying attention to women’s issues. When Justin Trudeau defeated Stephen Harper here in Canada, we had, for the first time, a gender equal Cabinet in Ottawa. And Joe Biden showed up at the Oscars to introduce Lady Gaga’s powerful anthem for campus rape, Till It Happens to You, speaking eloquently and passionately about an epidemic that had been ignored for decades. Then Whole Women’s Health won their Supreme Court battle against Texas state laws restricting abortion clinics. That was a huge win for women’s rights it reminded us all how critical the Supreme Court nomination would be after Justice Scalia’s death.

But then Jian Ghomeshi was exonerated. And Trump won the Republican nomination for President.

Yet, I remained hopeful. This time, Hillary would win. How could she not? With every passing week of the campaign, as it descended into chaos – madness – every time Donald Trump opened his mouth or tweeted, and I found myself complacent in the notion that Hillary would become the first female President of the United States. All the social progress of the past 8 years suggested it was impossible that a racist misogynist could take the highest office. Girls run the world now don’t they? Queen Bey said so.

Donald Trump’s win threatens to turn back all that social progress. His appointment of a Supreme Court justice and his VP-elect’s dangerous views on LGBTQ people, with plans to reverse Roe vs. Wade, will turn the clock back on human rights for the foreseeable future.

For a long time, I sat on the little abortion film I had written, thinking there wasn’t a market for it and even if there was, I have never made a film before, so how could I get it made now? And besides, I’m Canadian. Our rights here are secure. Even when Harper was in office, he said that he wasn’t opening that subject. And now we have a feminist leader, so thank God I am Canadian. I try to remain detached from American politics for this reason.

I can no longer.

American politics affect us. We share their culture. It has always been more sensationalist and gawdy than Canada’s reasoned and polite culture, but now it is downright toxic. And it threatens to seep across our border, giving permission to alt-right extremist bigotry.

I am depressed and in mourning for North America right now. We are not immune to the political divide that has rent our neighbours to the south.

I have been working in the past year, to get my abortion film made. I have been reading and sharing about women’s issues exhaustively, especially about the representation of women and the sexism that still excludes us from the cultural conversation. This election result has me feeling deeply disheartened for the moment, but I feel the tide rising within me. I will no longer wait for permission to make my art. I will speak up and be heard, because it is more important now, than ever before.

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