On the morning of Wednesday, November 9, 2016, I woke up, checked the news, and felt everything sink. I got up and got in the shower and burst into tears.
The night before, scrolling through Twitter as I watched the election results come in, I saw the Clinton campaign post a picture of Hillary hugging a young girl. Later, on CNN, Dana Bash pulled up that same photo and talked about why she found it so poignant. That, depending on how things turned out for Hillary, it said two different things: if she won, it said, “I did it for you.” And if she lost, it said, “I’m sorry, I tried.”
I was crying for the “I’m sorry, I tried.”
Later that day on Twitter and Facebook, dozens and dozens of women I followed asked, what do I tell my daughters? But what I wanted to know was: what do I tell my sons? Raising two feminist boys, my job hadn’t gotten any easier that day.
When I walked out of the bathroom still wrapped in a towel, my eyes still puffy, there sat my 7-years-old son at the kitchen table. He’d awoken, gotten himself dressed, and made himself an Eggo waffle. This independence was still fairly new and I could tell he was still a little proud of himself each morning he did this and I still felt a little pang of pride and love seeing him sitting there swinging his legs.
At least once a day, for seven and a half years, I’d been feeling these pangs of love at his fortitude, his grace, his light, his beauty. I’d look at him and it’d hit me right in the chest: I made this, he is mine, he is himself, isn’t he perfect. But now I walked over and sat next to him and I still didn’t know what I was going to tell him.
“Hi. How did you sleep?”
“I’m tired. I was up late.”
“Oh, right! Who won?”
And I said his name and my son’s face turned to one of confusion. “But you didn’t want him to win.”
“I know. Sometimes things don’t always go the way we want them to go. But it will be okay.” I smiled. He smiled back.
I went upstairs to get dressed. My older son is like that. He doesn’t dwell. He moves on quickly. There would be more talk later, but for now everything would be okay.
Halfway dressed my 4-year-old son called for me from his room. He usually just walks downstairs but for some reason, last night, he’d requested that I come up to his room to get him in the morning and now it was time. So I walked up the stairs and I sat on his bed and he smiled at me and I started crying again. I hadn’t meant to. I didn’t want him to see me so upset, but I still felt so devastated by the “I’m sorry, I tried.”
“I’m sorry, buddy, I’m sad.”
“Hillary Clinton didn’t get elected president and I really wanted her to.”
“Oh.” Now he looked confused, too.
“I thought we were going to have a woman be president for the first time ever. I’m disappointed it didn’t happen.”
“Maybe it will happen next time,” he said brightly. Like why couldn’t this happen? Like it was so easy. I loved that he believed that. And wasn’t that exactly what I said to my older son when he lost a soccer game or a baseball game or whatever game? “You’ll get ‘em next time.” Somehow my four-year-old already knew how to be a good loser.
I asked him for a hug and he gave it to me gladly. I wiped my eyes and we walked out of his room hand-in-hand and down the stairs and with his brightness and the ease he goes through life, I suddenly had the feeling that we—Hillary Clinton supporters, yes, but women and feminists more generally—were the 2003 Red Sox and we’d had the World Series in our sights and we’d just lost to the Yankees. Again.
Now I don’t want to suggest that Donald Trump is the Yankees. Heck no. The Yankees in this imperfect analogy are the patriarchy. Money and power and old white dudes. Championship ring after championship ring littering their fingers. And right now it’s 2003 and we the downtrodden but scrappy feminists are the Red Sox and Donald Trump is Aaron fucking Boone. Came out of nowhere and crushed our hopes with a single swing. We’d gotten our hopes up too early. Had a win in our hearts before the game was over.
But here was the beauty of being a Red Sox fan from 1918 through 2004. Each one of us woke up the morning after the 2003 season ended and believed. We believed next season could be different. We believed it could happen next time. I woke up on the morning of October 17, 2003 and I believed.
Why? After a lifetime (and lifetimes before me) of losing, I thought we could win.
What I wonder now is: can we regroup and become the 2004 Red Sox and elect a woman into the oval office the next time? Who are our band of idiots?
We, as feminists and as women, have four years to become a band of idiots. America loves idiots. Four years to become a tribe that lets losses slide off our backs, enjoys the ride, celebrates ourselves and our individualities. We have to love playing the game. We have to love each other.
The 2004 Red Sox loved each other. They talk about the chemistry they had. How they wanted to win for each other.
We win not game by game, but inning by inning, pitch by pitch. One out at a time.
Forget burning our bras. It’s time to grow our mustaches out, ladies.
And I wonder not who is our Big Papi hitting walk-off homers, or who is our Foulke never choking in the ninth, but who is our Dave Roberts? There’s a female politician who has been riding the bench and she’s talented and fast and she’s feeling those talents have been wasted and maybe it’s time to move on, but maybe what she doesn’t know yet at this point in the season is that there is a purpose she serves and it is great. She will come in at the end when all of our breaths are held and she will change the tenor of the game. With one play she will make winning an inevitability.
Maybe I am Dave Roberts. I call myself a feminist, but perhaps I have been riding the bench all these years.
Maybe you are Dave Roberts, unappreciated, talents wasted.
It’s time to come off the bench. All of us. Maybe collectively we are Dave Roberts.
We win inning by inning, pitch by pitch. One out at a time.
I believe. Do you?