Go ahead, Donald Trump, call women losers.
Hillary Clinton lost the general election last night. But losing is nothing new to Hillary Clinton. In fact, she’s great at losing and being a loser, the insult favored most frequently by President-Elect Donald Trump.
Hillary lost when she was the most mocked women in America during the Lewinsky scandals. Hillary lost when Republican senators shot down her Fair Pay Acts to close the pay gap in both 2005 and 2007. Hillary lost when Republicans balked at her universal healthcare initiative that would ultimately become Obamacare. She’ll even lose after the election, when Obamacare is repealed. Hillary owned up to her failures because she’s had to, and then she always moved on.
And last night she lost again. But this loss, this devastating election loss, feels personal.
If anybody is good at losing, it’s women. From the moment we’re born, we’re the fairer sex. Men tell us we’re “less than”—the same men who catcall us when we’re 11 years old from a Pepsi truck outside a convenience store. Just me? Unfortunately nope. Women are good at losing because being a woman is about being a good loser. For centuries, American women have lost out on jobs and opportunities to privileged men due to systemic sexism.
Women are good at losing, because we lose well. We lose “up.” It was Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “A woman is like a tea bag. She’s always strongest when she’s in hot water.” I honestly believe that women are the strongest beings on earth. We give birth to babies out of our bodies. We forge careers where we are told we’re in a “male-dominated” field, and do it anyway. That’s because women are great at taking losses and turning them into wins. And when we do that, we do it gracefully. (As far as I know, Grace is typically a female name—guys named “Grace,” get at me.) We take our failures and turn them into new opportunities to try again. Because we have “nothing to lose” in the end. We were already at a disadvantage from the beginning. And just as success is never final, we know that failure is never that fatal. Not when you’ve raised a family on your own, or endured countless instances of harassment and ruthless mocking, or made serious sacrifices for your dreams.
But this time, it wasn’t just men that helped women lose. It was other women, too. Early returns estimate that 66 percent of white women voted for Donald Trump. And for that, I am the most enraged. What happened to these women that they were able to look past a candidate’s racism and history of assault to shut down another woman? Is it inherent misogyny? Is it that the patriarchy as-is just benefits them, and they are afraid to know what a society run by women would be like? I will never understand. But women tearing down other women is the oldest story in the book, after the one about the billionaire with the invisible bank account that half the country believed they saw.
But now is not the time to get bitter. Now is the time to act. This time around, we didn’t get our Paycheck Fairness Act that would have closed the Gender Pay Gap once and for all. We didn’t get the paid family leave that generations of women fought for and worked through their baby’s first months to get. We didn’t get to support and protect the rights of people of color and the LGBTQ community. We didn’t get to set an example to countries like Saudi Arabia, where women are forbidden from driving, and we didn’t get to join democratic nations that have already elected female presidents, like India and Pakistan. And no amount of Meryl Streep or Katy Perry or Beyoncé performances could change the country’s mind.
And still, like a steeping tea bag, we go forward. Women are the ones who will make America better than it has ever been. The Women’s Rights movement wasn’t going to be over last night, even if Hillary Clinton won. We still have to fight. And now, thanks to Donald Trump and our loser-ship, we have more fire than ever.
Walking home from a devastating debate party at a bar where I endured two visiting male Trump supporters from Ohio in butt-saggy pants high-fiving each other for two hours, I experienced one of the most familiar moments of sexism. I was catcalled. And all I could do was laugh. Because as the old adage goes, if you’re able to find humor in a difficult situation, you win.