If you have been following the news, you are certainly familiar with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's bigoted remarks about people of color, people with disabilities and women—particularly his Democratic presidential opponent Hillary Clinton.
Recently, during the final presidential debate when Trump interrupted her for the umpteenth time, he lashed out her with the accusation "such a nasty woman." What was meant to be a demeaning patriarchal comment has become a rally cry for Clinton supporters around the nation, myself included. Call us names and tell us we are "playing the woman card," but I, and women like me, have had enough.
I learned at a very young age that my female body was a political vessel and what was said about it, put on it, put in it and how it looked was largely manipulated by others.
I grew up in small conservative towns in southern Idaho and when I was 15, I took money I had saved from my first job (at Dairy Queen), scheduled an appointment and secretly had my long hair chopped off into a short asexual pixie cut. It was one of my first feminist acts of defiance against the patriarchy and beauty culture. My parents were angry, my classmates were shocked and I was told that I looked ugly and like a boy.
At about that same time, I began to realize I could use my words to challenge the status quo—to speak out against something I felt was harmful. There was an outcry to abolish the only chapter on sex education from our junior high school health class curriculum, and I knew it would be a huge mistake. I wrote a letter to the editor of our local newspaper in support of teaching us how to safely navigate our newfound sexuality and was called a slut and a bad influence.
I went on to study history and women's studies at the University of Idaho. Boys loved that I was quirky, fun and looked cute in a short skirt but not once I opened my mouth to talk.
In my early 20s, a boyfriend turned to me one day and yelled, "I am so tired of hearing about your feminist bullshit. Will you just SHUT UP?!" (I broke up with him.)
In my 30s, I moved back to Boise after landing what I thought was my dream job, only to have to fight for equal pay, appropriate family leave and time to breastfeed my baby. I was deemed difficult to work with, demanding and a bitch by my femalesupervisors. I lost that job because I questioned blatant gender discrimination. Around the same time, I entered a new phase of my feminism by literally Googling the words, "Why am I fat and happy?" because I was fed up with our consumerist culture constantly force feeding us shame about how we are supposed to look. What I found launched me into the world of body positivity and fat acceptance and the radical notion that all bodies are good bodies and that there is, in fact, no wrong way to have a body.
Since then, I have stood up several times in the name of discrimination and hate—most notably in a blindfold and a black bikini in 2015 during the Capital City Public Market in downtown Boise—and I continue to be accused of being too loud, too academic, a bad mother, too angry, too radical and taking up too much space.
The naysayers seem to have gotten meaner and louder during the current presidential election cycle. I think it is because the stakes are so high as we teeter on the cusp of a major revolution. For years, women and minorities have been under attack by the GOP, and it all came to a head when the bullish Trump was selected as the 2016 candidate. To me, Trump represents the worst that America has to offer, including hate, racism, injustice, patriarchy, oppression, sexism, violence and anger.
I hope many reading this are with me when I say I am done accepting this way of thinking as the status quo and I am ready to stand up, speak up and use the power of my ballot. I have never been more excited to vote in such a historic moment, for not only the first female president of the United States but the best candidate for the job.
Join me Tuesday, Nov. 8, at the polling place and vote Hillary Clinton for nasty girls who dare to buck beauty standards and who stand up for sex education; for nasty women who refuse to date misogynists and be treated unfairly in the workplace; for all those women and girls ahead of us and behind us, including our own children, so they may never be degraded for being articulate, talented, educated, ambitious and themselves.
It's time to change the culture and the system.