What I remember is that they were bigger than me. Big and loud and swaggering and there weren’t enough hallways in my small middle school for me to avoid them.
I don’t remember the first thing I did to make Mitch and his friends hate me. Maybe there wasn’t a clear inciting incident, but I know that Mitch and co were bullies. They like picking on people like me—younger, shorter, girls, but unlike most, when Mitch and his friends hit, I hit back.
I don’t remember what started it, but I do remember what ended it. I broke up with my boyfriend. Nate and I hadn’t been dating long. He had only asked me out at the Valentine’s Day dance the Friday before, but by Tuesday it was clear that our relationship wasn’t destined to work out. I ended our short-lived dalliance during morning computer class.
By lunch they were everywhere. RAISB. RAISB. RAISB. Everywhere, carefully printed on the wrists of all the seventh and eight grade boys. Rebecca Alifimoff Is A Bitch. It was my middle school’s newest club and its purpose was pretty clear. Nate’s friends, my old bullies, were using our trivial break-up to land their final blow against me. I didn’t have a scrappy come back for this insult. I just felt numb.
I cried the whole afternoon. I slunk through hallways, hiding behind backpacks, hoping none of the members of RAISB would see me. In science class, I cried so much I couldn’t see through my microscope. We were supposed to be sketching the protus swimming on our slides, but I just sat there, adjusting my aperture and blinking my eyes, feeling horrible because of the club but worse because I couldn’t complete my assignment.
On Tuesday night, in the space were Donald Trump’s glib orange mug should have been, I saw Mitch’s long forgotten face staring out at me as CNN returned increasingly depressing election results. The feeling I felt that day in the seventh grade overwhelmed me again. I choked down the tears for as long as I could, but eventually it was useless.
Donald Trump’s attitudes about women are clear. He likes women glistening, half-naked, and parading in front of him for adjudication. He does not like women who exercise autonomy over their bodies or express any measure of defiance. Donald Trump is my middle school bully, lurking in the shadows of the locker room with snide insults and dismissive insults should I try to fight back. Crooked. Nasty. Bitch.