my dad and trump
by katie jansen
The last time I wrote about my dad was over a decade ago, in middle school. I wrote an essay about how he was my hero.
In November, my hero voted for Trump.
He voted for Trump after months of attacking my Facebook posts, verging on cyber bullying me.
He voted for Trump after I watched him turn into someone I did not and still do not recognize, spewing vitriolic hate online for the world to see.
He voted for Trump after he read dozens and dozens of articles from websites no one has ever heard of, ignoring the questions of his journalist daughter and claiming the “mainstream media” was a sham.
He voted for Trump after calling into question the stories of sexual assault survivors, ignoring an article I sent him that explained the psychological reasons behind the fragmented and fuzzy memories of those who have endured trauma.
He voted for Trump after raising two daughters he’d do anything for, and I am having trouble reconciling the facts.
I grew up learning my body was mine and mine alone, that no meant no. But my dad voted for someone who normalizes unwanted sexual contact, who thinks women are his for the grabbing.
I am one of the few women I know who is not a victim of sexual assault. That is sad — that I only know a few. But I am still a victim in some sense — a victim of fear, who is afraid to walk alone at night, who grips her keys in between her fingers, who has called her dad as she walks through parking decks, wooded areas, dimly lit streets.
I trusted him to protect me, to be there if anything happened. But after watching him question the stories of these women, the stories of my sisters who I haven’t met, I’m left to wonder—would he believe me?
In the same thought, I think, yes, of course he would. The reaction is always different when it’s one of your own. It’s easier to brush away the pain of a stranger.
But that doesn’t make it any easier to forgive.
My dad has never been outspoken about politics. He went to the polls in silence every four years. But this year brought something out of him, something I am afraid of.
I’d always known he held conservative, Catholic values, and I was fine with that. Agree to disagree. But when he joined with his candidate in attacking women, attacking journalists, attacking everything I am, it felt personal.
After the election, that man seemed to vanish. He wanted to chat via texts and phone calls. He posted a few statuses, but didn’t mention the election to me once.
And I am left with my wounds, and my guilt about my privilege. Many are terrified about what a Trump presidency will mean for their daily lives, whether they will be harassed, injured or worse. I am a white woman, and unfortunately, that means I may fare better than some. But I am terrified about what a Trump presidency has already done to my relationship with my father.
Created: December 17, 2016
State: North Carolina
Katie Jansen is a communications professional and writer from North Carolina. Hobbies include drinking craft beer and writing snarky Tweets.