Let’s face it, my fellow liberal ladies of a “certain age”: The year ahead in Donald Trump’s America could be tough.
Fear and loathing.
Threats and menace.
Still horrified daughters still blaming us for getting their hopes up about all that equality stuff. They bought it. So how then did America elect a proud groper? How can we even consider a labor secretary who extols the virtues of soft-core porn to sell gooey cheeseburgers? “I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis,” Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. tycoon Andrew Puzder said in 2015. “I think it’s very American.”
Meanwhile our sons and daughters are graduating, in May 2017, with degrees in environmental science.
“Pace the rage,” advises Juliette Kayyem, who wrote the book Security Mom. Heaven knows, we’re trying.
So, OK. Let me say this much for the election of Trump. Our 401(k)s, ladies, are soaring. The billionaire president-elect, surrounding himself with other billionaires, has been rewarded by Wall Street. So have we. Since nearly half of American women fear ending up as bag ladies feeding bread crumbs to pigeons (see the 2013 Allianz Insurance survey), that is a good thing. Now that we’re also staring into the abyss of rejiggered Medicare, maybe even Social Security, well, we’ll also likely need the extra cash.
I’ll give Trump this as well. His election has guaranteed 2017 will be a rebound year for the white men in our lives, especially the over-50 white men, working class or not. They’ve run the world for centuries. Turns out they still run the world. They — together, inexplicably, with 53 percent of white women voters — put Trump in the White House. Yet these white guys have their fears as well: Everyone else is catching up too fast. African-Americans, Latinos, Muslims, immigrants, gays, bis, the transgendered, the no-gendered, and the wives, girlfriends, and daughters who are suddenly making lots of money and demanding that husbands vacuum, change diapers, and drive the carpool.
Donald Trump has never changed diapers. He says fathers who do aren’t manly.
His election has shown us that white men’s manly fears matter more than the fears of the rest of us. And they will not be ignored again. Indeed, after a brief foray into diverse Oscar hosts — a black guy (Chris Rock), a gay guy (Neil Patrick Harris), and a gay gal (Ellen DeGeneres) — a straight white guy, Jimmy Kimmel, will host again in February. The natural order has returned.
Call this next observation petty. I agree. It is. Nonetheless, my fellow liberal ladies of a “certain age,” we can look forward in 2017 to continued speculation about the ridiculously long Trump ties. Surely you’ve noticed where they end and what they point to. Fashionistas say the Trump ties are needed to balance the extra-wide shoulders of Trump’s power suits, but I suspect something more is going on. This is a man, after all, who assured America in the midst of a presidential debate, “I guarantee you there’s no problem” down there. Yet at the end of the day, when the tie comes off and he’s flossing his teeth in some fancy-dancy Trump Tower mirror, he’s still a 70-year-old of considerable girth who might actually have a “problem.”
It must really bother him.
I do hope for some good get-even moments in 2017. Here’s a twofer. The Big Short screenwriter Charles Randolph is making a movie about Megyn Kelly, the mega-brained Fox News beauty who so intimidated Trump on the debate stage that he refused to show up again if she was moderating. The movie will focus on Kelly’s role in ousting the alleged Energizer Bunny of sexual harassers, ex-Fox honcho Roger Ailes. It took decades, but these women finally got Ailes, who created the network that’s turned many a rational white male (and, alas, female) into a seething stew of anger and paranoia, stocking up on gold and guns and emergency food rations.
I hope that our own Senator Elizabeth Warren remains a chief Trump antagonist. She really bothers him too.
Now, my fellow liberal ladies of a “certain age,” we must be careful not to overstate our case or whine like spoiled brats. I am, after all, a relatively secure, middle-aged, once-upon-a-time real blond who drives a hybrid and lives in Brookline where, when the going gets tough, the tough get to restorative yoga. It’s not enough to complain at our book clubs or wear one of those safety pins to show we’re “one” with people who face real Trump threats, like deportation.
As for Trump supporters, I have tried to understand how it feels to be crushed by this fast-changing economy while elites are mocking you. I’ve read J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy. I’ve interviewed Arlie Russell Hochschild, whose Strangers in Their Own Land explains “the great paradox”: why so many done dirty by greedy corporations still prefer them to the federal government. I’ve had “the talk” with small businesspeople in my own family who are overwhelmed by red tape and health care costs. They are hopeful for the year ahead.
Ladies, I can only hope, sincerely, that they see something I can’t.
As it is, when the next tragedy inevitably befalls the United States, we will look to a comforter in chief to soothe our souls, lift us up, call upon our better angels to unite us here in the greatest country on earth. But we will be looking at Donald Trump.Margery Eagan is co-host of WGBH’s Boston Public Radio on 89.7 FM. You can follow her on Twitter @margeryeagan. Send comments to email@example.com.