Whore Next Door: With Her

Hillary Clinton is to be congratulated.

(Photograph by Isabel Dresler/Isabeldresler.com)

Last week, first lady Michelle Obama delivered an impassioned speech at a Hillary Clinton rally in New Hampshire, denouncing the Republican Party’s presidential nominee, whose name she refused to utter.

Overnight, the press was lauding Obama’s speech, echoing the feeling I imagine many of us had upon hearing the historically uncontroversial first lady speak with such candor and emotion about a subject that has underscored so much of the current campaign trail.

“A candidate for president has bragged about sexually assaulting women.” She repeated it twice, to make sure the words sunk in.

She went on to paint chilling pictures of scenarios that women face every day, such as cat-calling and workplace harassment — things many of us have just learned to accept as part of our experiences as women on this earth.

But hearing the first lady of the United States talk about “that sick, sinking feeling … when men at work stand a little too close, stare a little too long … that feeling of terror and violation that too many women have felt,” gave me full-body goosebumps. It brought me to heaving tears as I sat in my kitchen, hovered over my Facebook feed.

“The truth is, it hurts,” she said, as her voice broke just enough to convey poignancy without compromising an ounce of strength, as many in the crowd called back in agreement.

Obama mused that perhaps women don’t always talk about how much words, actions, and larger systems that degrade and exploit us actually do hurt.

“Maybe because we think that admitting how much it hurts makes us look weak. Maybe we’re afraid to be that vulnerable,” she said. “We’ve seen that people often won’t take our word over his.”

I know that feeling: When your credibility is overlooked, your words ignored, your body insulted. It makes your jaw clench and your face get hot, but it’s muffled and suffocated by the knowledge that if you cry, if you yell, if you let them see you sweat or fail even once — they win. So you smile.

I chose a career in the sex industry because part of me knew that no matter what profession I chose, I would face some kind of objectification and sexism. So I decided that I might as well get paid for it. Even Clinton, who I hope on Nov. 9 will be declared our nation’s first female president-elect, is degraded by her critics daily.

If the woman who has achieved one of the most powerful positions in the world is treated the way Clinton is treated by the press, the public, and even by her peers, how do any of us stand a chance?

While Mrs. Obama and the rest of the sane world are ready to watch the Republican nominee’s campaign crumble, some of that nominee’s more vocal female supporters have defended his remarks about sexual assault and the way he continuously insults and belittles women. It’s “locker-room banter,” and “men talking to other men in a man’s world,” they claim. It leads us to the only logical conclusion: that the Republican nominee has developed an army of Stepford Wives who are programmed to repeat his nonsensical campaign slogans, Teddy Ruxpin-style, until manually deactivated. Because seriously, no human woman with a real brain should vote Republican in this presidential election.

Clinton quoted Michelle Obama during the horrifically uncomfortable second presidential debate: “When they go low, we go high.” But the high road is exhausting. Pretending that the endless barrage of insults and personal attacks fielded by people who don’t seem to have any interest in meaningful dialogue or progress, wears on the heart, the brain, and the soul.

We have seen the Democratic Party nominee, Hillary Clinton, do that for nearly three decades, most notably in the past six months as she has navigated the mudslinging of our political discourse with more grace than anyone I know could have managed. Now, it’s just a few more weeks before we see how the world may shift when someone with such an intimate understanding of misogyny and sexism wins the desk in the Oval Office.

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