Women share tears, fears of future after Clinton loss

Stephanie Steinberg
The Detroit News

On their way home from the polls, Deborah Gordon and her two daughters, ages 29 and 25, paused to snap a selfie. Their happiness radiated through their smiles.

Her older daughter, Annie, posted the photo on Instagram with the caption: “Girls voting for girls. Best day ever voting for Hills with my role model and my little role model.”

Attorney Deborah Gordon, right, with her daughters Sarah Gordon Thomas, left, and Annie Gordon Thomas taking a selfie after voting in Birmingham.

Tuesday night, the three gathered in their Birmingham home to watch the results come in. Gordon even planned to run out at some point to buy a celebratory bottle of champagne. But as the night ticked on, it became clear they would not be toasting to the first woman president of the United States.

“The grimness started to set in, and it was very tough for me to watch their faces change,” says Gordon, 65, a Bloomfield Hills-based civil rights attorney.

“It’s really difficult to come up with words right now. This is such a shock. And there was so much excitement on the part of my daughters and so many young women I knew that thought they were going to be a part of history.”

Mothers, daughters, grandmothers and women across Metro Detroit and the country stood at the polls Tuesday, thinking that perhaps the glass ceiling had finally shattered and a woman could lead the country. By the next morning, many woke up to their worst nightmare.

“I think the true blow, aside from the fact that a woman did not win, is the person who beat her is the antithesis of who you want as a leader for young men and women in this country,” Gordon says.

In her concession speech Wednesday, Clinton thanked all the women who put faith in her campaign and reminded them to not give up hope.

“I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but someday someone will — and hopefully sooner than we might think,” she said.

To all the little girls watching, she told them to “never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”

Though she made women’s equality a central theme of her campaign, Clinton’s support among Michigan women was mixed, according to an exit poll of 2,774 Michigan voters conducted for The Detroit News by Edison Research. Trump had a 7-percentage point lead among white women voters, while black women favored Clinton over Trump 96 to 3 percent.

Nationwide, exit polling showed women supported Clinton over Trump 53 percent to 42 percent. Libertarian Gary Johnson got 3 percent and Green Party’s Jill Stein 1 percent.

Oak Park native Alexia Sims Mansour, 38, has a 5-month-old son and two girls ages 4 and 6. Throughout the campaign, the stay-at-home mom and wife of an East Lansing party store owner talked to her girls about the possibility of a woman running the country.

Alexia Sims Mansour takes a selfie with her children Cedella, age 6, Isora, age 4, and Atticus, age 5 months, after voting on Election Day.

“They were super excited to have Hillary win and be the first ‘girl’ president,” Mansour says, breaking down in sobs during a phone interview. “They were shocked there hadn’t been a woman before that because they were taught when they were born that they could do anything a boy could do, so to tell them that morning was heartbreaking — to tell them we still haven’t reached that pinnacle of being equal in our American society.”

After telling her 4-year-old that Trump won, Mansour says the girl was crestfallen.

“She said, ‘That’s really sad because he’s a bully.’ I said, ‘This is how our American election process works and more people wanted Trump to be the president and thought he could do a better job.”

Internalizing this, her daughter responded: “That’s OK, because Hillary Clinton can try again.”

Royal Oak resident Britt Dresser didn’t have to explain the results to her 6 month-old-son, but that didn’t make her feel any less overwhelmed or scared about what’s in store for his future.

Like many, the 28-year-old took to social media to grieve, but also to acknowledge that while she may disagree with the country’s decision, she’ll instill in her son the values she believes.

Royal Oak resident Britt Dresser, 28, with her 6-month-old son Milo on Election Day. Dresser posted the photo on her Instagram account with the caption: “everything i do -- especially casting this vote -- i do for you. #lovetrumpshate”

“More than anything else I'm grieving the loss of my hope to raise my child in a place I am proud of,” she wrote on Instagram with picture of her son Milo. “… The reality is that as a white male of educated parents living a comfortable life, Milo will probably still be afforded every opportunity he had previously.

“But I will work every day to teach him that such entitlements that many used as an excuse to elude responsibility for hateful actions don't preclude you from caring deeply and compassionately for others, engaging thoughtfully in society, and learning from your mistakes.”

Detroiter Kim Trent, a member of the Wayne State Board of Governors, attended the Democratic watch party in Detroit Tuesday dressed in white in honor of the suffragettes who fought for women’s right to vote.

“I really liked the symmetry of honoring them and also honoring the fact that we could be making another kind of history,” Trent said in an interview Tuesday evening.

Wayne State University Governor Kim Trent dressed in white for Election Day on Tuesday.

On Wednesday morning, her cheery tone changed. “I’ve had better days,” she said.

“The reason I’m so crestfallen right now is because... I thought (Clinton) sent a wonderful message to Americans that if you work hard, if you’re smart, if you’re engaged — despite artificial limitations that society might put on you — you can rise above it, and I feel the exact opposite today. I feel that we have rewarded mediocrity,” she said.

Trent, who has a young son, hasn’t cried yet because she’s still “too numb” thinking about what happened. “It’s a sad day for our country,” she says.

If anything positive has come out of the election, Mansour says, it’s that she knows she’s raising her children to “be good people and have strong values of truth and justice and fairness and equality.”

When she told her 4-year-old she didn’t think Clinton would run again for president, because she’s already run twice and she’ll likely let someone else try, her daughter piped up:

“That’s OK mom, because I’m going to try, and I’m going to show those boys that I can be the president some day.”

ssteinberg@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2156

Twitter: @Steph_Steinberg