What Exactly Are You Entitled To?

This post-election Friday dawned on an ever-darkening morning despite the sunshine. Leonard Cohen bid adieu last night. HRC bid a gut-wrenching adieu Wednesday morning. Out in the rain hours after the election West Philly residents looked ashen, moving like zombies. Wearing my daughter on my chest under our umbrella, a stranger told me to hold her close. I bristle at men who talk to me on the sidewalk, but not that time. Philly, I thought, you’re okay.

Until you’re not okay. http://www.phillyvoice.com/police-respond-swastika-painted-building-south-philly/

This is what America voted for. My newsfeed insists that barely 25% of Americans voted for Trump, but out of the percentage of folks old enough to vote, or not disenfranchised, it was just enough to give him the electoral college edge. And so this election ends.

No one prepared for this, I believe. No one expected such ugliness to come out of this election: Racism, sexism, sexual assault, xenophobia, ignorance, hate. And least of all, few of us expected it to bleed into our personal interactions. But it does, and it did, and I blame entitlement.

My mother, fiercely anti-Trump and relatively new to posting political opinions on social media, was insulted and attacked by a “friend” who voted for Trump. Not only did this friend vote for Trump, she called Obama a traitor, Trump a brilliant business man, and my mother a “low-information voter”. Refrain from insulting my mother, I replied cooly. With my family’s health insurance and my husband’s job at an abortion clinic on the line, I can’t bear any more weight on my already heavy heart to argue online with anyone. But she did not back down, and thus began a flurry of posts quick to argue and/or defend. But the tone of each post struck me. Among a demographic of white women in their sixties and seventies, each began her post with “You are entitled to your opinion, but…” And that was the final straw for me. Entitlement is what brought about this horror. Entitlement makes entire communities fearful for their safety. It is a sense of entitlement that allows men to threaten and abuse women, to racially profile millions of people and deny basic human rights to entire populations. I’m sick of entitlement. If you feel entitled to an opinion, you are part of the problem.

Men have felt entitled for years to grab women’s bodies without consent. White men feel entitled to own their guns while supporting Stop and Frisk. Rich men who inherited their wealth feel entitled to give themselves tax breaks. Young men who rape women feel entitled to avoid serving prison time. Anti-choice individuals feel entitled to make decisions on behalf of all women. And they feel entitled to claim a bullshit smug moral high ground. Your ground is hate. Your ground is fear and distrust and selfish, selfish insularity. I want to take the moral high ground and follow Michelle Obama’s words, “When they go low, we go high.” But when I am ground down by my country, when family, our livelihood and my own mother are attacked, I ask you, what has entitlement wrought? How can we dismantle entitlement? I see radicals call to “Smash the Patriarchy” but I am too old and far too removed from my radical politics to believe that the smashing of anything is possible or constructive. How, then, can we feasibly erase the ills that entitlement feeds? How de we even begin? If we no longer grant anyone the entitlement to their opinion, perhaps they will have to justify their opinions with substance rather than give them a pass in the first place.




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