On election night, every Canadian in America thought briefly about moving back home. I know I did. A fellow ex-pat texted me: “We can’t live here Ang.” “I guess we can’t,” I responded.
Even Americans wanted to head North. My Boston-born friend asked seven Canadians, myself included, to marry her. Our country’s immigration website crashed as it became more and more clear that battleground states would swing towards hate.
In those terrifying moments, as more of the electoral map turned red, I felt the impulse to flee. Canada felt like a warm hug. Our soft-spoken Ken doll of a prime minister, Justin Trudeau, talks about welcoming refugees and the merits of feminism instead of building walls and grabbing pussies.
But then I drank a stiff margarita, stuffed my face with corn chips and changed my mind. The worst thing I could do is let an orange-faced bully, a man who loves to intimidate women and has 15 sexual assault allegations to his name, drive me out of this country.
Just over a year ago I moved from Toronto to New York City, fulfilling a lifelong dream. As a kid I spent a few Christmases with my dad’s relatives on Long Island, enthralled by my great aunt’s Gatsby-like drawl, Radio City Music Hall’s Rockettes and FAO Schwartz’s massive toy collection. In my 20s, New York was where I saw my first fedora-wearing hipster, ate my first slice of gluten-free pizza and bought my first counterfeit camera. The city’s imposing skyline made every Canadian city look like it was made of Lego bricks. I knew I’d be at home in a city full of stressed-out, overly determined Americans. I wanted to be in the media’s version of Hollywood, where I could take a selfie outside the New York Times building and ask David Remnick out for coffee.
When I was 22, I spent six months doing the meticulous paperwork necessary to get dual citizenship through my American dad. All the grappling with bureaucracy was well worth it. As major Canadian newspapers made deep cuts or went up in flames, my bald eagle passport felt like a golden ticket. America simply has more journalism jobs, more innovative digital media companies, more places to pitch stories. Going back home would be a professional killjoy. But worst of all, pushing a driven woman to abandon her dreams is exactly what America’s future egomaniac-in-chief would want.
It’s clear Trump loves to exert his power over women. The former reality star has allegedly pushed them up against walls and forced his tongue down their throats, felt them up on airplanes and groped their butts. Trump himself admitted his fame is a free pass to sexually assault whomever he wants. As owner of the Miss Universe Organization, he called pageant winner Alicia Machado “Miss Piggy,” “Miss Eating Machine” and forced her to lose weight, pressure that contributed to the 19-year-old’s eating disorders. As president he wants to further control women by taking away their right to have an abortion and access certain contraceptives.
Trump simply can’t handle ambitious females. He continuously criticizes their looks and tries to intimidate them. He called Rosie O’Donnell a “slob” with a “fat ugly face” and said Carly Fiorina was too ugly to win votes. During the presidential debates he angrily interrupted Hillary Clinton, called her names (nasty woman!), lost his temper and stalked her on stage like a grade-A psychopath. When Fox news host Megyn Kelly challenged Trump on his misogynistic comments he blamed the “hostile” questions on her period.
Trump is a misogynistic bully. He’s the kind of guy who would just love to hear that a scared little Canadian feminist who couldn’t handle his “locker room talk” ran back home instead of chasing her ambitions. Yuge win for the patriarchy! Major loser! He thinks women should be beautiful objects he can handle, not driven humans who compete against him for top jobs in business and politics. Being in New York is great for my career. The biggest “fuck you” I can give Donald Trump is to nail my professional goals, not run back home.
In reality, Trump’s election isn’t any less terrifying for people living North of this border. If you’re a progressive woman, Muslim, Mexican, Jew, black person, LGBT person, someone with disabilities, LGBTQ or an immigrant, the fact that Americans choose to elect a man who hates your identity and has zero political experience over a woman who has spent the last 30 years in public should make you very angry no matter where you live. America is still the world’s most powerful nation and when shit goes wrong it has global effects. But because we share a border Canadians in particular feel connected to their southern neighbor through friends, family or jobs.
Right now, I don’t feel any less safe in New York than I would in Toronto. This election didn’t prove those sitting beside me on the subways are bigots — it proved metropolitan cities and rural counties have a completely different worldview and value system. Unfortunately those same divides exist in Canada.
In 2010, the greater Toronto area elected Rob Ford, the crack-smoking mayor popular with suburban voters fed up with the latte-drinking, New Yorker-reading downtown elites. Ford, who died of cancer in 2016, was caught on tape saying racist things like “nigger,” “kike” and “fag” while under the influence, but he was also a homophobe who refused to attend Pride and said in response to accusations of sexual harassment toward a staff member that he has “more than enough to eat at home.” Our former conservative prime minister, Stephen Harper, was a steely Mike Pence-ish figure who was vehemently anti-science, anti-Muslim and pro-pipeline, and who largely ignored Canada’s abhorrent treatment of its Indigenous population.
Instead of going back to a country that has elected its own problematic leaders, I’m going to stay here and fight Trump’s bigoted, xenophobic policies. New Yorkers are angry and gather daily to protest Trump’s election. During his inauguration, I’ll join the “Million Women March” in Washington D.C. to oppose the president’s misogyny. As someone who spends 99 percent of her time writing and reading about feminism on the internet, I’m ready to join on-the-ground movements happening in America.
It’s more important than ever for me to be ambitious, outspoken and career-driven. I need to challenge sexist employers like Trump who think pregnancy is an inconvenience to their bottom line, who treat females like subhumans. America’s next president doesn’t want another strong-minded, successful woman in this country. And that’s reason enough to stay.