Tracking women’s attitudes in the deep American divide

Tracking women’s attitudes in the deep American divide

Taylor Whitney showing off her 'I Voted!' sticker at the Pennsylvania Welcome Center

As a young, female journalist, one of the things that confused me most in this election is the divide that became so quickly visible between women.

There were women who loved Donald Trump despite his blatant disrespect of their gender. These women continued to build him up while he clearly tore down the work of their sisters.

Then there were the women who so eagerly looked forward to a future with Hillary Clinton. They wanted to see Clinton shatter the glass ceiling, and see her take the lead. They wanted a future that is fair and equal.

Aside from the visibility of this clear divide through social media and news, I had never really personally seen such overt polarization.

That was until I faced American women in the wind of not only the anticipation of the results but in the wake of a definite Trump presidency.

Angola, New York (Pre election)

Sarah Quiles and Dannovan Odel, of Dunkirk, N.Y. at the Angola Travel Plaza. (Rob Lowrey/Skedline)

We met Sarah Quiles and Dannovan Odel, of Dunkirk, N.Y. at the Angola Travel Plaza. They had decided to make the stop on their way to Buffalo. When asked about the election, Odel gave the most solid answer, despite the inherent flaw.

“I’m not voting; I don’t like either one. If I had to choose I guess, I would choose Hillary over Trump. I would like a female president but I would prefer Michelle Obama,” said Odel.

Imagine saying this, and not truly thinking about what you said. To not vote is not only a waste of your right, but a disrespect to yourself, especially as a woman. Not voting for Clinton nor Trump but clearly saying you would choose Clinton is silly. If you can vote, vote. Don’t make a preference if you won’t cast it.

Brownsville, Pennsylvania (Pre election)

Taylor Whitney showing off her  'I Voted!' sticker at the Pennsylvania Welcome Center. (Fallon Hewitt/Skedline)
Taylor Whitney of Rochester, NY showing off her ‘I Voted!’ sticker at the Pennsylvania Welcome Center. (Fallon Hewitt/Skedline)

We met Taylor Whitney, an archivist, from Rochester, N.Y. when we stopped at the Pennsylvania Welcome Center.

As we sat at a table, trying to access the dreadfully slow Wi-Fi, Whitney asked if she could sit with us.

When we asked her about her thoughts on the election, Whitney felt as though the whole experience had been unfair for Clinton.

“I think it’s sad that Hillary Clinton has prepared her entire life for this and she didn’t have a candidate that she could have an intellectual debate with. She didn’t get to say anything about her policies or anything she wants to do because she was too busy defending herself,” said Whitney.

I had honestly never thought of this aspect of the campaign. The idea that Clinton worked her whole life to be president, and to finally get the ballot, only to face a candidate that dulled her experience. With constant attacks, she was always on the defence and trying to cover the ground he took from her. She never got to take true advantage of what she worked so hard for.

Imagine if that hadn’t happened?

Cleveland, OH (Post-election)

Ferris Beashau Tanasijevich, a team leader at a technology company, in Cleveland OH. (Alexa Dimitruik/Skedline)

Just after our hectic night covering the election, we went to the streets of Cleveland to hear reactions to the night unexpected results.

In comparison to our ride home, the reactions we got on the streets of Cleveland were filled with disappointment, not approval.

Ferris Beashau Tanasijevich, a team leader at a technology company, was disappointed by not only the result but the ideas she believes people have in the country.

“I’m quite disappointed that so many people within our country have those archaic views about women,” said Beashau Tanasijevich.

“I think that when he had his campaign slogan, ‘Make America Great Again’ it goes back to the 50s and the way that society was back then. The women stayed at home, they made sure your dinner was cooked every night.”

I thought Beashau Tanasijevich’s point of view made total sense, but it also a pretty bold interpretation of when the U.S. was great. That can be interpreted in so many ways, but hers made a lot of sense. I totally agree. When was America great? What era was it? What did it look like? Some have thought America was always great and never stopped. Some think it was great 50 years ago. It really depends, but the meaning is definitely one in its own.

Harborcreek, PA (Post-election)

Steve Louis and Mary Lou King at the TA Travel Center near Brownesville, PA. (Fallon Hewitt/Skedline)
Steve Louis and Mary Lou King at the TA Travel Center near Brownesville, PA. (Fallon Hewitt/Skedline)

As we drove through Pennsylvania, we pulled off the highway and found ourselves at the TA Travel Center.

The center, just off of the highway, dawned a massive gas station with at least 10 pumps, a separate entrance exclusively for truckers, a Pizza Hut Express, a Subway, and a restaurant almost ironically called Country Pride, with a logo using the American flag.

Across the road, an abandoned looking shop with a Trump sign boldly displayed where I would assume an actual business sign once resided.

We spoke to a trucking couple Steve Louis and Mary Lou King who were making their way into the center to grab some lunch.

King’s comments really pointed to the divide I was seeing in women’s opinions and support for Clinton.

“One thing I didn’t like was her with the abortion. There’s just so many evil things,” said King.

To associate abortion with evil is your own prerogative. To further associate Clinton with being evil because she believes in it is something else.

Being pro-choice isn’t evil for everyone. Yes, you can have your own opinion. There is nothing wrong with that. But to have such a destructive point of view on something your fellow women have fought for is quite awful. Being pro-choice doesn’t mean you have to have an abortion. Being pro-choice means you respect the decisions of other women with no questioning required.

In all honesty, I always get confused by the deep divides surrounding gender equality, especially when it lies in the gender itself. I could never understand why some women so badly want to build up their fellow sisters, while others envelop such destructive traits. We’ve worked so hard to get where we are and to think women allow that to be so easily torn down rattles my bones.

I still can’t believe what I heard while in America, both good and bad. Some of it instilled hope, while other things make me a bit worried. But I guess it made it all real.



By Fallon Hewitt