Individualism Doesn't Work
At Least, Not Anymore
Back in 2016, when Trump took the presidency and all of my female & LGBTQ friends were in various states of desperate intoxication, rampant rage and staunch denial — you could find me curled up in a fetal position on my bedroom floor, hyperventilating and sobbing into the phone. My boyfriend at the time was on the receiving end of this near panic attack, doing his best to assuage my fears and world-shifting epiphanies.
For the first time, perhaps in my entire life as an upper-middle class white woman, I was afraid for my rights as a human being. It was finally dawning on me that on top of the privilege that my skin color and my upbringing afforded me, I was still a part of a marginalized group, namely: women. A man had just been elected president who has now been accused of sexual harassment and/or assault by twenty-three women. Twenty-three. Not only that, his vice-president (the one actually pulling the chains because, let’s be honest, we have a narcissistic child sitting on the throne) has a proven track record of dehumanizing anyone who is not white, male, and conservatively Christian.
I was terrified. I knew in my wise, all-knowing gut that my rights as a woman in this country may be completely scrubbed from our books of law in the coming years. My boyfriend — white, male, heteronormative — thought that the best soothing tactic at the time would be to remind me of my privilege.
“It’s going to be OK. This isn’t even going to touch you. You live in Seattle. You’re still in a liberal bubble. You have nothing to worry about. This probably won’t affect you.”
Mhmmmm…Well it’s affecting me now.
In case you haven’t heard about the Tile X Gag Rule released by the Trump Administration on February 22nd, start with “Trump’s Title X Gag Rule Is A Public Health Crisis in The Making,” by Medium’s own Sady Doyle. Yes, 21 states, along with Planned Parenthood and the American Medical Association are suing our government in order to stop the gag rule from taking affect in less than two months. A gag rule that would divert millions in funds from healthcare providers offering essential services to low-income women and families to faith-based clinics. No, it may not make any difference.
This is it people. We’ve already witnessed the Trump administration ban transgender individuals from serving in our country’s military. We’ve seen him detain families at our borders, separate mothers from their children, and not think twice about the longterm affects of early childhood trauma. We’ve watched as hate crimes rise, fear of difference turning into paranoia and the need to protect what’s ours. We’ve seen white male America do everything within their power to strip the rest of us of our inalienable rights as people, the same as them, many better.
I’ve written about being angry, I’ve donated to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the Sierra Club (Did I mention I’m from Seattle?). I’ve told my own stories and done my best to support other women, other people hurting. It’s not enough. It’s not enough for me to sit in my home at my computer and play at affecting change. Yes, it’s 2019. Yes, we have possibly more democratic candidates than EVER running for the presidential nomination in 2020. Yes, they do include women, and people of color. I know we’re all sitting at home and going to work and living our lives to the best of our abilities, hoping and praying that a non-republican wins the presidency next year. Truly, any one will do at this point.
I still feel hopeless. Alone. Separate. Angry. Disillusioned. Disregarded.
I am still looking out for me and my own. I am still lamenting the fact that my government is actively trying to hurt me, while feeling like all I can do is keep checking Twitter for the newsflash that my free birth control is null and void. Which is, honestly, one of this country’s less pressing issues. I’m not entirely sure how to fix this. I don’t know what the answer is here. I only know that individualism isn’t working anymore.
Frankly, it never worked. No successful relationship, home, company, organization, or society has ever been built on just one. One person could never control the entire world. Just like one person could never avoid it. We are inherently a part of it. Together. There’s no getting past it. Individualism breeds fear and hate through the fantasy that we are the only ones who understand us, and therefore the only ones who can fix this little problem of ours.
My ex-boyfriend would very much like to believe that nothing will ever touch his freedom. And, you know what? It probably won’t. That’s his privilege. It’s his decision whether or not he wants to change it out for an upgrade. You know why his words hurt me? Beyond the whole I feel like you’re not hearing what I’m saying and you’re not a woman so you could never understand thing? Because I was finally waking up to how lucky I had been, and how hard I was going to have to fight to keep my normal. The same way that billions of people before me had to come to terms with when they landed on this soil. Because I finally felt connected. To the breadth of hardships that others have faced to give me the rights that I take for granted.
I’m sure you’ve heard the James Baldwin quote “Our crown has already been bought and paid for. All we have to do is wear it.’’
I didn’t know what that meant before now. I could understand it, but I couldn’t relate to it. That’s individualism.
Let’s wear that fucking crown bitches.