In response to Donald Trump’s forthcoming presidency, Quail Bell Magazine editors assembled a pamphlet for self-care and rebellion. You may download your copy as a PDF or Word Document or read the content below. The pamphlet is free to reproduce and distribute under the Creative Commons license. “When we share, everyone wins.”
#notmyamerica, #notmypresident, and #notmyprotest
By Mari Asai
In the wake of the surprise election of outsider candidate Donald Trump to the office of the presidency, activists and allies have taken to the streets in a series of campus-led protests under the umbrella names of #notmyamerica and #notmypresident involving rallies and walkouts in cities and at many schools, including my own.
Many have questioned the protests from across the political spectrum.
From the left: black people were killed by police under Obama. More black people would be killed under Hillary Clinton just as they will be under Donald Trump. Why do protesters only care now? How do they only see the racism now?
From the right: the electorate has spoken. Now is a time to push for real change and reform and progress, not a time to attack the person who won.
A lack of information on the message and intent of the protests has exacerbated these frustrations. The events that led to these protests are largely self-evident: the tacit approval of American voters of language and policies proposed by Donald Trump that were racist, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, ableist, Islamophobic, and transphobic. However, what protesters seek to do or accomplish is varied. Here at the University of Rochester, prior to, during, and since our rally, I’ve heard participants give a few reasons for participating, including:
1. Express that they feel unsafe
2. Stand in solidarity with those who feel unsafe
3. Demonstrate support and inclusion in academic spaces
4. Force Donald Trump to eschew the language he used in campaigning
5. Request that Trump govern for all Americans, not just those that voted for him
6. Demonstrate interest in future political activism (for midterm elections, etc)
The proud tradition of political dissent in the United States has rarely been in response to a coming election but rather a challenge to those in power, and so long as there are those without power, the fight will doubtless continue. Yet this fight need not be against everyone. Protesters should reach out to allies who voted against Trump and yet feel frustrated with a needless and undemocratic push to oust him. They must reach out to the Native Americans and leftists and people of color who see these protests as too little and too late.
For their message to be heard, for it must be heard, protesters can’t just protest against Donald Trump and the support or acceptance of hate he was elected with. They need also speak to those around them. To those who don’t understand what they hope to achieve. To those who don’t see an aim or goal to the protests. If this movement succeeds in any of the many aims we have for it, it will be because we spoke to those around us, and because we listened to those who already felt unsafe, and now feel unheard.
Why a Donald Trump Presidency Proves My Rape Doesn’t Matter
On June 4th I was raped. On November 9th I woke up to a Donald Trump presidency. In the time between I have spent countless hours reading and listening to the people around me denounce the women who have come forth and accused Donald Trump of sexual assault, cry foul about allegedly rampant false rape claims, and reduce the passion of the women in their lives to hormonal irrationality. Earlier this year I wrote an anonymous article documenting the details of my assault and explaining why I had yet to report my rape. My rape kit was botched. My rapist is a well-respected ‘family man.’ I have made a career off of modeling in various stages of undress and playing lascivious women on stage. I have grown up in a world where I have heard people I respected question what the victim was wearing, how she was acting, what she possibly could have done to have caused a man to toss aside his morals for 'twenty minutes of action.’
I was set to start graduate school and I knew I could barely manage that and my anxiety, never mind the pain a trial would bring on. I’m an intelligent woman and I know how the system works. I am not the portrait of the perfect victim. This system was never meant for women like me.
I don’t want to make this day about me, but it is impossible to separate myself from this election. There are people around the nation and around the world who are grieving, furious, frightened. This vote has spoken to the POC, queer, female, immigrant, non-Christian Americans loudly and clearly: we are not welcome. This is bigger than me or you or any single one of us. The underbelly of an America that has quietly reminded marginalized communities that we will never truly be welcome – despite the mainstream media trying to shove an under-cooked post-racial society down our throats – has been given a voice and a platform and I promise you, they will speak until their voices grow so hoarse that they cannot make another sound. As the queer granddaughter of a Colombian immigrant I can say that the rhetoric surrounding this election has chilled me to the core and I do not expect it to stop any time soon. I could speak about that in length, and I’m sure over the next four years I will. I woke up this morning with my fingertips burning with blood and a fresh reminder of why I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil. You can give permission to bigotry to run rampant but you cannot silence the free press.
But today I want to specifically address this through the eyes of a woman who was drugged and violently raped and still hasn’t reported, because while my identity can be filed away in many ways ‘silent rape victim’ potentially shines the brightest as I wait for a man who has made it very clear he is not my champion, as I wait for a man accused of sexual assault into the double digits, as I wait for a man on the record bragging about getting away with sexual assault because he’s famous be sworn in as the leader of the free world. I hate that word, rape. I’ve spent the past five months avoiding it. It feels dirty and degrading on my tongue. ‘Assault’ is so much sweeter and abstract. But I was raped and I still haven’t reported and this morning I think it’s high time I stop hiding behind the comforts of anonymity and sugar coated words like assault. There is nothing comfortable about what happened to me. There is nothing comfortable about the fact that my story is by no means unique; it is a tale shared by countless other women, girls, men, and boys worldwide. I was raped and have spent the months since listening to the right claim that any woman who came forward with an accusation any time not immediately following her assault was a liar, a cheat, some fame chasing whore looking for her fifteen minutes.
Two months ago my rapist found my Facebook and sent me a message asking me when I would get famous. It’d be so much cooler if he had ‘slept’ with someone famous. Maybe if I was famous my assault would hold more validity, although we saw earlier this year with Ke$ha that fame does not protect women from powerful predators.
Five months ago I was raped and I’ve spent every day since wondering if I’ve waited too long, wondering if I report now if I’m clearly a liar because surely if I was beaten I would want justice, because surely a woman who has been writing and passionately speaking about politics and women’s rights for over half of her life would have the wherewithal within herself to report and see a trial through. I write this with tears in my eyes that I furiously wipe away. I’ve spent a lifetime being told my emotional responses are weakness. I’ve spent a lifetime being told my passion is irrational because I am female. The world’s perceptions of myself are dictated by a uterus housed in a body that was punched so hard that I am now uncertain if I can have children.
Five months ago I was raped and now I look at my birth country from an ocean away and realize that my misgivings were correct. The America I grew up in was kinder to women than some, but at its core it has never been my champion. And now we have elected a leader who has bragged about assault, who has called women pigs and whores, who has publically insinuated than a woman’s passion is the result of her menstruation. America, you do not speak for me.
I’ve been searching for the strength to report for five months and it still isn’t there. But while there is still breath in me I will always write. A courtroom may not be my protector but my mind will always be my greatest defender. As a woman frightened for the future of my birth country, frightened for the safety of my friends and family, frightened by a culture that has made a passionate and educated woman such as myself question if I really did deserve what happened to me, I beg of you to stay vocal and engaged. Courage at the keyboard but apathy in actions are poison. Fight for yourself, fight for POC, fight for Muslims and the LGBTQ+ community and women everywhere. And write. Write articles, write to your community, and write to your representatives. Take ownership of your voice. Do not shrug this off. And then next time you hear someone scoff at a woman coming forth months or years later to accuse her assailant, I ask that you think of me. I promise you there isn’t enough fame or attention in the world that could ever replace what has been stolen from me.
The world is watching, America. Prove me wrong.
The Ballad of Billy Bush, Devin Faraci, The Source of My Discomfort, and Me
Billy Bush didn’t expect to wake up like this. It was going to be a simple day of fluffing: news, celebrities, any dog going viral.
The time it hit was irrelevant but when it did it was like a nail bomb: video/audio of him with reality star, real estate magnate, and future Presidential candidate Donald Trump, caught on a hot mic like a Robert Durst. Billy Bush was doing the fluff bit while Donald Trump told the story of his attempt to fuck a Palm Beach mistress when the conversation turned to how Donald Trump could fuck anybody he pleased because he was a star. Might start kissing them, grab them by the pussy, etc.
Billy Bush had age to blame and he did. Donald Trump had Democrats too. Soon Billy Bush resigned and a phalanx of scandalized Republicans wanted Trump to. But ink has been spilled about Donald Trump.
This is the ballad of Billy Bush, Devin Faraci, The Source of My Discomfort, and Me.
Devin Faraci didn’t expect to wake up like this. In between appraising how Penny Dreadful creates its own universe and condemning Donald Trump’s video and how telling it was he said it to a television host, somebody from his past asked him: remember when you grabbed my pussy in a bar and asked my friends to smell your fingers?
I really don’t but how could I be so vile, I beg your forgiveness.
A day later he resigned as the editor of his website, Birth.Movies.Death. Plenty of people were silent until they had to be. Thousands of words spilled on how the master/slave dialectic in relation to Captain America: Civil War and 140 characters damning a rapist editor couldn’t be produced, even though their twitter feeds for the last year have been condemnations and controversies weighed upon and when it mattered all anybody could produce was shame and fear that their money was getting screwed up and how sad it was.
I can’t produce sadness except for the victim. I don’t care about Devin Faraci.
A tweet goes: Trump is the face of every man who raped you and Mike Pence is the judge who let them get away. Billy Bush is the friend who clapped Trump on the back. He even called him “The Donald” in the audio, like he was his frat brother.
What about Devin Faraci’s buddies, the ones who just said it was sad? What about the ones who smelled his fingers? What about the people who knew? Did Faraci repent immediately? How many times did this happen before? Did they never think Devin Faraci in all of his bullying and the time he told a film director he was going to fuck their wife could be capable of sexual assault? Why’d they stand by him so long? Why are they surprised? Because he pissed off some Gamergaters and white supremacists? Their ethos is anger. Why’d he get a pass for so long?
Why’d it take a lickspittle like Billy Bush to even make a dent a serial rapist?
Why is it a surprise?
When it comes to the secret lives of men, decimate rational thought until proof arrives. And when proof arrives, measure three times, cut once.
And when they mislead you by purporting they have values they don’t, forget how they promise they’ll do better until they do.
And then remember what they did.
In the future when a Billy Bush or a Devin Faraci gets revealed here’s what it’ll look like:
I am ashamed of how my actions came to light. When they took place I was a different person who had no understanding of how my actions would affect others. I would like to apologize. Over the years I have grown to learn how men’s actions can affect the people around them and how they can play into a heteronormative patriarchal kyriarchy we should all work to dismantle. I am a proud feminist with (daughters/sisters/mothers/mail-ladies/a female next door neighbor/a couple of women on my iPod/a bookshelf that’s got at least one Joan Didion on it) and I am sorry that I failed that standard today.
I promise to do better.
I like to think that’s accurate. I soaked myself in predators, Hugo Schwyzers, Tao Lins, Stephen Michael McDowells, names I can’t forget, all at the behest of writing what was at differing points in time a play, a novel, a screenplay, and an audio drama, in order to deal with what I had seen and experienced. I wrote a plan out. I talked to friends. Then I put it away.
Until it became real again.
I didn’t expect to wake up like this. It was Saturday and my room was the kind of dark it can only get when you sleep on an air mattress with a leak in it, the sun coming in through the blinds. I was not hungover. I wish I had been. It would have meant I enjoyed myself for a minute.
Instead the night before I was paralyzed in a diner seat eating some sort of chocolate cake watching a guy at least two of us knew was a sexual predator do the riot act of admitting to sins gleefully and then asking for penance. He’d make some sort of explicit joke, then backpedal. I was familiar with him, but the sexual predation component of his personality was a newer one to me. In April I learned that he sent a series of sexts to somebody who wasn’t wanting them. When they told him to stop he replied with pictures of self harm he claimed they made him commit.
Months then he was talking about being hypersexual.
That night he would reveal some sort of paraphilia of his then backtrack and do a performative grief. I felt captive. My throat was locked.
It was like when in school the two girls kept asking me how many times a day I masturbated. I didn’t want this. So I escaped as I best could and went outside for fresh air. It was summer but felt chilly and I looked up Cary and the world felt like the idea of the vantage point never existed: that it just went for longer than your eyes could take.
It was as infinite as the day I sat scared to go upstairs to see why the old lady who lived next to my dad and had a crush on me she was open about expressing was moaning loudly and I sat on her sterile white couches feeling: if you move there is trouble. If you leave, there is trouble. If you check, there is trouble. If you stay, there is less trouble. So stay as time breaks.
We left the diner. I ended up having to entertain the source of my discomfort all night. He invited himself in and I developed an interest in cleaning my apartment.
By the time we got to the theater to meet our friend who was going away I had a horrendous migraine. The source of my discomfort stood far behind me and I told him to get around. Before Army of Darkness started I sat away from everyone else.
Not too long before this night I realized that the way I felt everyday in my life, always on guard, always expecting a tragedy, events I lived flickering in my head like a projectionist spliced in stills as a subliminal prank, as PTSD.
I got up twice during the movie because of my panic attacks and vomited.
After the show I watched him and the friend who was leaving commiserate amongst one of their friends and take pictures. I walked my friend who was leaving a little ways.
He was mad I was standoffish and seemed passive aggressive. I apologized.
I still drove the source of my discomfort home. He left a toolbox in my back seat, and it taunted me every time I got in my car.
The next day I checked my twitter messages. The Friend Who Left said he wouldn’t make a big deal about it and continued browbeating me over my behavior the night before.
This is the ballad of Billy Bush, Devin Faraci, The Source of My Discomfort, and me.
I have been Billy Bush for two years and I don’t want to be anymore. So this is why I am writing this condemning Billy Bush, Devin Faraci, the Source of My Discomfort, and Me: so I can be somebody new. If I’m lucky, maybe even myself. But I don’t expect an end to the Bushes, Faracis, and Sources of Discomfort. They’ll get new jobs and start new websites and always be there to deliver a bon mot they mean deep down. Like Patrick Bateman, they’re in Murders and Executions but everybody hears Mergers and Acquisitions.
The ballad never fades out and it never will, it just casts new players in the roles.
That’s why I don’t believe in justice or peace, only a truth that fails in its attempts to supply either.
This is why I testify.
Twitter user @pattymo created a hoax saying Billy Bush donated his entire severance package to women’s charities.
A number of people praised him. Had it happened it would have been a small price to pay.
In this debacle we have to forgive the guy we could say was “caught in the middle” because we want to forgive one person above all else, at whatever cost, even the barren recompense of truth.
"The Frightening Fluency of Creation": Joanna Valente's Marys of the Sea is so Human, It's Divine
With the stormy political forecast, I don’t know of a better time I could have picked up Joanna Valente’s Marys of the Sea. Growing up with conservative and evangelical rhetoric, magic was considered a highly dangerous threat. To so many traditional politicians among others wanting to silence the narratives of women, Valente’s collection is their nightmare, as Jonathan Papernick (author of The Book of Stone) describes the authoress as “a sorceress who wields language with the frightening fluency of Creation.” Indeed, it doesn’t take long to be enchanted by the collection, starting with the gorgeous cover illustration that mimics holy imagery.
Perhaps Valente’s words are so dangerous because she challenges the traditional narratives of the Bible, suggesting a stronger feminine presence in the spiritual realm than too many want to admit. The opening of her collection references the Gospel of Mary, a presumably 2nd century text that challenges a woman’s subservience to a man with examples of the most praised woman in biblical history: the Virgin Mary. The gospel is also debated to portray Mary Magdalene, another one of Jesus’ followers. Whichever Mary it may be, the Marys of Valente’s 53 poem collection describe the rawness of sexual violence and trauma from the aftermath. “Creation Myth” immediately questions the very essence of our purpose and the lies we are fed to excuse heinous behavior with, “Self-control is difficult for humans: / our hearts still primitive.”
The collection also details the heart-wrenching decision of terminating pregnancy, documenting a chance of properly meeting the same soul later in “American Express.” It begins with, “It was a pill / that shifted you / from my womb / to homeless,” and compares the decision to a credit transfer resulting in an empty uterus. Later, the speaker promises, “Ten years from now / a transfer will occur / from debit acct / to my credit. / I hope it will be you / no longer lost / on the streets of / Not Ready Yet.” But even with a comforting analogy, “Mittelschmerz” (German for ‘moderate pain’) suggests a looming doubt and persistent regret, but resolves with a reminder that the soul will return, noting, “When I’m ready, / my uterus will lunar eclipse. / You could have been / my baby. I was almost your mother. / In the gap, I left you to fall— / jarred starlight, steaming.” Overall, every poem reveals the truths rarely told in political discourse, more than likely because it is too human to swallow.
Valente’s important and essential collection is available from ELJ Publications now.
My Non-existence Under a Trump Administration
When my mother patted the black tufts of hair on my head and gazed into my dark eyes for the first time, she was not a U.S. citizen. But, in my newborn pinkness, I was. The year was 1988 and it was an unseasonably warm day in November less than one week after Halloween. I was experiencing the world outside of my mother’s womb in healthy, even breaths that would not have been possible had it not been for my mother’s emergency C-section. With my umbilical cord wound around my neck, my birth was almost my undoing. My tiny mother was exhausted but relieved to welcome all eight pounds of me—alive!—with my American father by her side.
The site of this initial meet and greet was a regional hospital on a long, winding road in my hometown of Arlington, Virginia. As part of the Washington, D.C. metro area, the pipsqueak county may be one of the smallest in the United States, but it has one of the largest Salvadoran populations in the country. This is worth mentioning because my mother is Salvadoran. She, like the majority of her fellow Salvadoran immigrants, came to the United States to escape her homeland’s civil war.
When my parents met and fell in love in El Salvador, starting a family there was not a consideration. My father’s broadcast career was based in the United States and the El Salvador my mother knew as a child was quickly disappearing. No parent dreams of raising their children among ricocheting bullets and bloodshed. But my father didn’t want just any wife; he wanted my mother, and he was willing to wait for the notoriously sluggish U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as they hemmed and hawed. Eventually, they gave Leticia Cristina Sanchez Gomez a stamp of approval and she bid El Salvador farewell forever.
As soon as my mother’s papers were approved, my parents started their life together not far from Miami’s sparkling beaches. They were married at St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church, a 12th-century Spanish monastery that had also witnessed a great migration. Newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst purchased the ancient structure in the 1920s and had it had disassembled stone by stone so it could be shipped from Spain to the United States. But like my mother, the monastery—which filled an astounding 11,000 wooden crates—experienced a period of limbo.
After the monastery arrived in New York, Hearst couldn’t afford to have it reconstructed. Thus the stones sat in a Brooklyn warehouse for more than a quarter of a century. It wasn’t until Hearst passed that hope was the monastery was reignited. Two entrepreneurs bought the grand edifice from the Hearst estate and gave it a second life in Florida. They paid the modern equivalent of twenty million dollars for the privilege of putting together what a 1953 issue of Time Magazine dubbed “the biggest jigsaw puzzle in history.”
Unlike the monastery, my parents did not reach the end of their journey in Miami. Two years after their wedding, they moved to Washington when my father accepted a job there. That was how my mother found herself moving from the capital of El Salvador to “the capital of Latin America” (as Miami has been nicknamed) to the capital of the United States. El Salvador’s civil war certainly played a role, but my mother ultimately moved out of love and stayed out of love.
But, today, my parents’ story would be even less likely than it was thirty years ago. U.S. borders have gotten tighter and tighter and Central Americans fight for green cards. Even children in some of El Salvador’s most violent regions have trouble seeking refuge in the United States. I’ll never forget covering a Catholic Charities meeting for parents who wanted more information about the USCIS Central American Minor Program. Under this competitive program, Central American parents who live in the U.S. but who have children living in Central America can petition to have their children join them. One of the women fled the room crying when she learned that her child had aged out of the requirements. Even though the Catholic Charities chapter had been assisting parents with paperwork for months, the coordinator told me not a single child had been approved to come to the United States.
President-elect Donald Trump says he wants to deport all 11 million estimated undocumented people now living in the United States. He says he wants to strengthen U.S. borders and build a wall between here and Mexico. He has accused Latinos of being criminals, of stealing Americans’ jobs, of tearing their own families apart through immigration.
Any time Trump rages against Latinos and immigrants, I think of my parents and how they would not be together if he had been president during their courtship. My parents never would’ve married in that Spanish monastery. My mother never would’ve wailed in that Arlington hospital. My father never would’ve worried that his daughter would die before he met her. And me? I never would’ve been born.