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Opinion: 'Tuesday was a dark day for feminism but we'll keep fighting'

Through the course of this election, as women we endured a lot, writes Emily McManus.

Emily McManus

ON WEDNESDAY MORNING there was a message on my phone.

“Don’t check the news when you wake up,” it said.

“Honestly, it’s easier.”

I switch on the radio. A preening Trump is making his acceptance speech. Tears fall into my morning coffee.

It wasn’t meant to be like this.

I am the youngest and only daughter in a family of four children. Raised by two forward-thinking liberals, I had been taught that I could do anything my brothers could. That being female was not a hindrance but a strength. That sexism could always be overcome  by simply being better. By working harder.

On that morning, for the first time in my life, I started to doubt if that was true.

As a naive young student, I once announced we lived in ‘a post-feminist world’.

Thanks to our mothers and the burning-bra generation of the 60′s and 70′s we no longer had to be constrained by glass ceilings and gender pay-gaps and the ‘tyranny’ of biology.

We just needed to BELIEVE in ourselves.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is the great emblem of that generation. In 2008, in her own words she put ’18 million cracks in the glass ceiling’.

In 2016, on being awarded the democratic nomination she proudly proclaimed “ when there are no ceilings, the sky’s the limit”.

But on 8 November 2016 , the American electorate said a firm ‘No’. The people decided that even a racist, misogynist liar was preferable to a female president. Never mind policy, forget about morals, as long as it’s Mr President, we’ll be OK.

Logic would dictate that in this time of of global political and economic uncertainty that the people would seek a steady hand to steer the ship. But, rather than making her appealing, Hillary’s years of public service, the lifetime of social activism and her resilience in the face of family crisis, made her untrustworthy in the eyes of the American public.

Through the course of this election, as women we endured a lot. I shuddered at every mention of ‘crooked Hillary’. When her opponent spat ‘nasty woman’ at her, I yelped in indignation. But never did I lose faith that the right candidate would be returned. I believed that good would always win out over evil. I trusted democracy.

Only in the last few days of the race did my confidence begin to fade. Soundbite after soundbite had ordinary people on the streets of America saying they simply did not trust Hillary Clinton. Not one – that I heard – could say why.

Exit polls show that for every two white women that voted for Ms Clinton, three voted for Mr Trump. It was a dark day for feminism.

A visibly wounded but dignified Hillary took to the stage late Wednesday afternoon. In her long-awaited concession speech she attempted to offer us a glimmer of hope.

“I know that we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling but             someday someone will and hopefully it will be sooner than we might think right now,” she said.

But what do we do for now?

We do what women have been doing for generations. We cope. We get up, we get dressed and we keep our heads held high. The fight is not over. It’s just beginning.

Michelle for President 2020. I’m with her.

Emily McManus is a doctor and freelance writer.

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Emily McManus

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