On November 9, I went on my first Tinder date. We matched on the app a few days before the election and started texting. (His profile: 30, white man, maybe has a ponytail?, passionate about meditation). We shared anxieties about Trump and hopes for Hillary. I had been out knocking on doors for an LGBT advocacy group, and he was attending an election night Buddhist meditation. Beyond our politics, we shared experiences in theater, were both new to the city, and had an easy rapport. I was excited to meet him.
On November 9, the night after the election, I asked my roommate, “Is it wrong to go on a date tonight? Shouldn’t I be in mourning?” We decided that Trump or no Trump, life and its accompanying Tinder dates would have to go on.
Mr. Tinder met me in front of the bar as I locked up my bike. I reached out to shake his hand as he went in to hug me. We went into the bar and bought drinks. We talked about theater, how we loathe Trump, what music we were into (his answer: only Mozart). We mourned for Hillary and discussed Palestine, our friends, and then more about the election. There wasn't much to say about it because we were in total agreement — Donald Trump really, really sucks.
We finished our drinks and went to a different bar. Walking there, he put his hand on my arm. Waiting for cash to come out of the ATM, he pushed himself into me. Sitting across from each other in a booth, he grabbed my foot under the table and held it. “Haha, what are you doing with my foot?” I asked, not really laughing. Later, he put his hands on mine and massaged my fingers. “Dude,” I said, “We just met. Don’t touch my hands.” Another drink, his hands are rubbing mine again as I argue with him about Palestine. “I don’t want anyone to suffer," he tells me, “but Palestine deserves what they're getting." One more drink, we’re making out and he’s touching every part of me, and I’m too drunk to do anything except excuse myself to throw up in the bathroom and get a cab home. The next morning, I delete Tinder and block his number.
When a tape was leaked of president-elect Donald Trump saying, “I just start kissing them...I don’t even wait...Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything” — and then defended it as “locker room talk” — America freaked out. The Internet exploded with condemnations of his speech, with professional athletes asking, “What locker room does he hang out in? ‘Cause it's not ours.” — We were shocked and offended by Trump's words.
Yet here I am, in a bar on November 9, with a man who voted for Hillary Clinton, was just as shocked and offended by Trump, and who is putting his hands on me without asking, kissing me, who doesn’t wait, who thinks he can do anything. We are in a passionate disagreement about Israel and Palestine, and he is simultaneously shutting me down and grabbing my thighs. I feel and am certain that this man does not take anything about me seriously, except for the fact that my body is across from his and that if I get drunk enough, I might go home with him.
What happened on my Tinder date is not an anomaly. Mr. Tinder was not the first liberal guy to touch me without asking, to touch me when I explicitly told him not to. This man, who felt so self-righteous because he cast his vote for a woman, was doing exactly what Trump bragged about in that tape. He was doing whatever he wanted.
In an open letter to Donald Trump on Vox.com, Chris Kluwe, a former NFL player, wrote:
“I was in an NFL locker room for eight years... Hell, I played a couple years with a guy who later turned out to be a serial rapist. Even he never talked like that.”
It seems clear that what the media and liberals are angry about is not that there was a serial rapist in Chris Kluwe’s locker room; it’s the use of the word pussy and that Trump "talks like that." The real problem: men think they can do anything.
My father — who constantly asks if the men I am dating are treating me right — rolls his eyes when I use the word "patriarchy." I don't believe that Mr. Tinder or my father or any of the men I met in college who refuse to identify as feminist because it is too "radical" are men who want to hurt women. They just don't know what it's like to be in a woman’s body.
Let me tell you.
To be in a woman’s body is not to have a body because everyone else claims it to look at, to touch, to enter.
To be in a woman’s body is to be called over by an old man at the very fancy restaurant you work at (“let me look at you”) given an up and down, and told “not too bad." To be in a woman’s body is to watch your best friend grow so small that you can barely see her and then ask, “Do you think I’m fat?” To be in a woman’s body is to know the inside of the toilet bowl from all of the hours you spent shoving your fingers in the back of your throat to release the heaviness in your belly and the heaviness in your soul.
To be in a woman’s body is to walk down the street every single day and have people scream at you and honk at you so that you cannot simply walk down the street and think your own private thoughts because you are being constantly reminded that you have a body and that people want it for themselves. To be in a woman’s body is to have your hips that are so powerful they could carry a life as the resting place for the hands of any guy at a college party who thinks he is entitled to your attention.
To be in a woman’s body is to go to bed with a lover and tell him “I’m too drunk,” and wake up with faint memories of him inside of you. To be in a woman’s body is to fill the pages of your diary with the words over and over again, “What is wrong with me?”
To be in a woman’s body is to sit across a table from a liberal who voted for Bernie and then Hillary and who puts his hands on you after you said, "Don't."
This has been my experience of living in a woman’s body. Other women — women of color, transwomen, queer women, immigrant women, and disabled women have experiences that I will never know as a white, middle-class, cis, able-bodied woman.
I do not want Donald Trump to be my president. But if Hillary Clinton won, maybe my mother would keep telling me she’s not a feminist because men and women are already equal. If Hillary Clinton won, maybe I would keep quietly throwing up when I eat too many onion rings. If Hillary Clinton won, maybe I would be going on my second date with “I only listen to Mozart” from Tinder.
There is nothing wrong with me. What is wrong is people telling you that you are making it up, that you are already equal, even when everything in your experience teaches you that people take one look at your chest and decide that there is some opposite correlation between bra size and brain size and that the words that come out of your mouth are a feminine suggestion.
In high school, I asked my first love and my boyfriend if he thought I was smart. His response was, "I've never been in a situation where you've had to prove that, so I don't know."
Do I have to solve multivariable calculus problems in front of men to prove that I am intelligent enough for them to take their hands off me?
In a 2015 interview, Donald Trump told “Meet the Press," “I cherish women. I understand the importance of women," as though “women” are some niche interest group and one needs to “understand” our importance. Stop. Do not cherish me. Give me equal pay, my reproductive rights, do not sexually assault me.
The glass ceiling is not shattered. Women are not equal to men. Women’s overall and reproductive health-care continues to be treated as a hot-button issue rather than a fundamental right. And the soon-to-be president, with his promise to “Make America Great Again,” is telling us that men can do anything.
Chris Kluwe, Donald Trump, my first and last Tinder date — I don’t care what you are talking about in the locker room, or who you voted for, or how liberal and smart you are.
Do not touch me.
Top photo: Access Hollywood
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Sarah Kelly Konig is a waitress in Philadelphia. She aspires to be a feminist therapist and also work in theater. You can follow her on Instagram @sarahkellykonig.