Robert and I went to bed around 9 p.m. and set the alarm for 2 a.m. in order to watch the election returns. We fully and naïvely expected to watch history being made before sharing a bottle of pink champagne. As we lounged in bed with Opie, cups of tea, and light snow falling outside, our anticipation turned to hope, then to disbelief, and then to tears (mine).
Deal Me Into the Pantsuit Nation
By now most people have heard about the “secret” pro-Hillary Facebook group called Pantsuit Nation which has grown to over 3 million members. I was added to the group early on when it was still called November 8 – National Pantsuit Day and I’ve spent hours reading the stories of my Pantsuit Nation sisters about suffragettes, holocaust survivors, rape survivors, immigrants, gay couples, biracial couples, lifelong republicans who were supporting Hillary in secret, women who fled abusive relationships, and people who were seriously psyched to be voting for the first female presidential candidate.
I can’t relate to the pantsuit on a personal level. I used to cry on gym day in elementary school because I couldn’t wear a dress to school. I’ll admit that at first I struggled to see the pantsuit as an empowered fashion choice. To me it seemed like women trying to fit into a men’s world, but as I read stories about 1960s – 70s dress codes which prohibited women and girls from wearing pants, I got it. I wear dresses or skirts pretty much 365 days a year. But that’s my choice. And I get it now, that’s the whole point.
I was with Hillary from the start. Not because she’s a woman and not because she’s a mother, which have been common themes within the Pantsuit Nation sisterhood, but because we were aligned on social issues and I believed that she was the best candidate for the job. I wasn’t the least bit excited by the prospect of seeing Sarah Palin in office and I don’t think that being a mother has bestowed Hillary with superpowers or made her any more or less qualified to be President. Don’t we all want what’s best for our families, in whatever form they take? I took particular offense at Susan Sarandon smugly saying, “I don’t vote with my vagina.” I actually did not consult with my vagina on this particular decision. True story. If we were voting with our vaginas, McCain might’ve won in 2008. Actually, if Susan had voted with her uterus and urged others to do the same, we might not be in this mess.
I’m Pro- So Many Controversial Things
I’ve always known that I didn’t want children. Thanks to the feminists who came before me, that was my choice to make. I benefitted from the sliding-scale services of Planned Parenthood in my early 20s… abortion wasn’t one of those services. Shockingly, Planned Parenthood isn’t all about abortions. But I will vote and I will fight for other women to have that choice, and I’ll vote for the candidate who supports maternity leave and a living minimum wage.
In 1993 as a university freshman, I was elected Vice President of the Association of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Friends (I was a friend). For our first on campus event (a dance), we painted a big rock that was available with permission for any student organization to paint in order to promote their club or event. We’d gotten permission, the maintenance crew had painted the rock white for us and we painted it like any other organization. Except the pink triangles and rainbow flags were too much for the administration to handle, so they promptly ordered the rock to be repainted white. People tore down our posters all over campus and the campus police advised us to hire security for the event and to tape paper over the windows in the room where the dance was to take place “to avoid unnecessary problems.” I’m a fag hag from way back and the idea that my gay friends can get married and adopt children is far beyond my wildest early 1990s dreams and I will always vote to protect those rights.
I’m half Cuban and my (non-Cuban) grandmother (who raised me) used to call me a “little spick” (isn’t that nice?) and opposed me learning Spanish as a child. This has made it next to impossible for me to learn Danish as a second language now because I’ve been monolingual my whole life. I can’t comprehend such ignorance and I certainly won’t endorse it. My grandparents and father were Cuban immigrants. I’m an immigrant. I’m white and affluent so somehow I get an expat pass, but do you really think I’m ever moving back to America after this bullshit? With guilt, I consider myself fortunate that I don’t “look hispanic” as I’m told time and time again, but I will never, ever support a candidate who thinks that immigrants or people of other ethnicities or religions are less than equal to everyone else.
Living in Denmark, Bernie’s Lefty Paradise
I was never pro-Bernie. I think he had a rainbows and unicorns view of the welfare state and while I admire his idealism, he was often factually incorrect about the benefits on offer here, and I don’t think he understood the nuts and bolts of Danish society. I don’t think he would’ve fared better than Hillary in the election and I doubt that he would’ve able to pull off his vision for America.
I’ve talked a lot of shit about Denmark over my 6+ years of living here. My criticism mainly came from my frustration with being expected to go all in on an insane tax structure which would make repatriating to the US difficult to afford. At the same time, I was acutely aware that I was brought here on visa for highly-qualified and highly-paid workers, I paid the top rate of income tax, and yet I was always 3 months away from deportation if I lost my job and couldn’t find another one with equal pay.
And it happened. My company hired a misogynistic sociopath who bullied me to the point of needing medical leave, but not before I was so traumatized that my doctor refused to ever release me back to that position. So without a back-up plan, I quit the six figure job that I moved continents for. Now I’m making a successful living as a freelancer but that’s only because of my network, my reputation, and the fact I was able to change to a family reunification visa under EU rules after marrying Robert. If England hadn’t been part of the EU or if I hadn’t been married to Robert, then after five years of paying the top rate of income tax, 25% VAT, media tax, a mandatory pension, and 180% registration tax on a car, I would’ve had three months to up sticks and leave.
When I decided to move abroad 2 years into Obama’s first term, people thought I was crazy to wait out W only to flee under Obama. And for a while, I thought I’d made a huge mistake, but the move was inspired. While panicking Americans crashed Canada’s immigration website last night, I have permanent residency in an EU country. A country that I’ll admit has questionable immigration policies, but a humane social welfare system and a high standard of living for all.
I still bitch about the taxes, but not so much. There are some really wonderful things about this crazy little country. Now that I’m staying, I gladly pay a premium in order to live in a country with paid maternity leave, government-funded higher education, and universal healthcare. I feel privileged to live in a country that flies the rainbow flag on its busses during Pride Weekend; where abortion is free, on demand, and between a woman and her partner (if she chooses); and where nobody even considers that same sex marriage is worth discussing because it’s a given. I walk around alone (often after dark at this time of year) in Denmark’s second largest city with designer handbags and not so subtle jewellery, yet I feel completely safe. Because when everyone has enough, they don’t need to take what isn’t theirs and I’m ok with having slightly less disposable income in order to live in the society I’ve just described.
An Expat Member of the Pantsuit Nation
Having lived abroad for over 6 years and not visited America in over 5 years, I have no firsthand view of what my country has become. I felt disconnected and tearful yesterday as I watched the live feed of women visiting Susan B. Anthony’s grave. I’ve always voted because I recognize, appreciate, and value what my suffragette sisters went through in order to secure me that right. And as I watched election day photos being posted of my Pantsuit Nation sisters in their pantsuits, and “Nasty Woman” and pro-Hillary attire, I was teary and hopeful that my country would elect the best candidate. The candidate who reflects the values and culture of the society that I wanted to believe was alive and flourishing back home. At first, I believed that misogyny won and that America had lost last night. But that’s only partly true. America lost, but the values that I hold dear are alive and well in my country, we just happened to get fucked over yet again by the Electoral College.
If my angry, devastated, and frightened Pantsuit Nation sisters organize locally and channel their disappointment into action, then there’s no end to what this movement can achieve. I hope they’ll start start by working to abolish the Electoral College, it’s cost us too much. There’s only so much I can do from across the Pond and I’m going to do my best, but I hope that my sisters in the Pantsuit Nation will grieve, regroup, come back ready to roar, and make what we’ve started more than just a blip in social media history.
I’ve never been more proud to be a #NastyWoman, and I’m #ImStillWithHer. Let’s finish what Hillary started!