Progressive men and women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community were largely devastated by the results of Tuesday's presidential election, when it felt like half of the country had cast votes telling them that their civil rights and freedoms don't matter, that hate trumps love, that upholding white male privilege is more important than advancing equality.
Those lucky enough to work in progressive offices or live in progressive cities and communities felt so grateful to have each other last week, to be able to lean on like-minded people who were similarly saddened by Tuesday's results. Some felt like they were in mourning, and people in mourning turn to their communities of support for solidarity in moments like these. But, in the aftermath of Tuesday's election, many distraught women had one person they couldn't call for hope, comfort, or commiseration after Donald Trump was elected president — a person who would typically be the first one to allay their fears, to sympathize with them, to tell them that everything was going to be OK.
They couldn't call their dads.
They couldn't call their dads because a lot of them voted for Donald Trump, or wouldn't vote for Hillary Clinton.
Men ages 50-plus supported Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton by a margin of 58 to 38, while millennial women supported Hillary Clinton by a margin of 63 to 31 percent. There's a huge divide between how today's young women (especially young white women) are voting and how their fathers are voting, and it's creating a lot of tension within families in the aftermath of the election. Maybe if fathers knew how their votes impacted their daughters, there could be more understanding and progress. Here, 21 women tell their dads how their vote made them feel.
"Dad, I know you didn't vote for Trump — you told me during one of our late-night talks that you couldn't. I also know that you didn't vote for Hillary. And, to be honest, it breaks my heart a little. As someone who raised me to be smart, strong, and stand up for myself, it pains me that you couldn't vote for a women who has inspired other girls to be smart, strong, and stand up for themselves.
"But I know your decision had nothing to do with Hillary's gender or character. I know this because, on the night of the third debate, you turned to me and said, "I'm just going to vote for you on Nov. 8." And even though there was humor in your voice, your sentiment proved that you would have no problem seeing a strong woman in the White House some day. And, hopefully, that will happen at some point in our lifetime.
"So I forgive you dad, and I thank you for believing I could do anything — and raising me to think the same."
"Dear Dad: Simply put, I feel betrayed. If protecting the rights and dignity of your own flesh and blood, your little girl, wasn't enough to motivate you to vote against Trump, I don't know what it would take. As a woman of color, as someone who has directly benefitted from the Affordable Care Act, as a person who has received vital reproductive health care from Planned Parenthood throughout my twenties, as an outspoken feminist and champion of the Black Lives Matter movement, it not only baffles me, but shakes me to my core to know that you are celebrating while I, along with so many others, are mourning what this presidency means for our nation's future."
"Dad, I know that you love me. And that you’ll do anything in your power to protect me. I also understand that you’ve sometimes felt powerless in making a difference in this country. You were given that power this year. As an immigrant, this was the first time you could vote in the United States. I’m hurt that you chose not to, whatever your reasons may have been. I’m scared, Dad. I hope you can begin to understand how much it all matters now, and how much of a difference you CAN make."
"Hi Dad. Your vote verifies that you are OK with me living in a world where Trump is a role model for success. Trump stands as a reminder that I can be the world's most qualified woman, and still be defeated by the world's most disgusting man. He stands as a reminder that a man can insult and mock every cultural group but his own, and still rise to power. Your vote makes me wonder if you want the world to change for me. Your vote makes me question if you have any concern for people who are dissimilar to yourself.
"I am surprised. I am confused. I am afraid to talk to you about it. But I want to understand. Am I the one being narrow minded? Am I being ignorant for having a hard time seeing things your way? I want to know what influenced your choice. I want to hear you talk about it. I'll ask soon. But I'm not ready to hear your reasons just yet."
"Gary, we have never agreed on politics, but we have always had a relationship built on respect and love. Your vote for Donald Trump feels like a betrayal. I know you love me — a lifetime of coming to my plays and letting my oddball friends crash your holiday parties has shown me that you do — but I now question your respect for me, and that is truly painful. "
"Dad, I grew up listening to you call Hillary Clinton every vile name you could think of just because she was a woman. Through your own words and political alliances, you’ve taught me that you’re only proud of me when I think like you, vote like you, and hate like you. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a woman too. Is that all it takes for you to vote against the health and safety of your only child?"
"PG, by all of my own experiences, you've been the most loving, supportive, and protective father that I ever could've wished for. You've taught me to consider others' life experiences, even if and especially if they're different from my own: to stand up for myself and for those who aren't able to speak up for themselves: and to treat others with kindness and respect."
"It's hard to sum up in words how it feels to have endured a sexual assault and to know that my own father voted for a man who treats women as if they're lesser beings. I know the decent man that you are, and so I know that you abhor Trump's treatment of women. You may have been able to separate, in your own mind, voting for his policies and voting for his conduct. But when you cast a vote for him, you made the loud and clear statement to me, a rape survivor, that his behavior wasn't a disqualification. That decision to vote for him — however based in a desire for economic change, new policies, or an upset of our hopelessly deadlocked system — makes me feel that what happened to me doesn't matter to you. That it's easy enough to explain it away. That the tiniest part of you thinks that kind of behavior is pardonable, under the right circumstances and with the right excuses."
"Dad, I know you love me. You helped me become the strong woman I am. But how can you truly value me and justify a vote that said yes to the degradation of women and the normalization of sexual assault? It makes me feel like you don't believe my hard work and qualifications could ever earn me the same respect as even the least adequate male. Is that what you meant to say to your little girl? What if the things Trump says about and did to women were directed at me? I'm afraid to be a woman in Trump's America. You are supposed to keep me safe. Your vote did not protect me."
"My family voted that they don’t want anymore Muslims in this country — despite the fact that the little baby boy I’m carrying will be Muslim. My family voted that, if something goes wrong in the months that I’m carrying this child, I should not have the right to make the decision on how to proceed, that I should have one option — to carry to term no matter what the consequences. My family, who has raised all daughters for the last two generations, has voted for women to have little autonomy over our own bodies. They voted, and the man who now holds the highest office in the land has basically said you can grab her, kiss her, say what you want about her, do what you want to her, and nothing will happen to you."
"Dada: Your vote lets me know that my future isn't your concern. You let me know that as a woman whose career is in fighting for access to safe and legal abortion care — as a woman who had an abortion a month before you cast a vote for a candidate who thinks both providers and patients should be punished for personal health care decisions — I am not a person whose safety or wellbeing you take seriously; that I am not a person you want to protect; that I, the daughter who you raised to challenge the word 'no' and take pride in my strong will and individuality, am not a person who matters to you."
"Dear Dad, your vote made me feel that it’s OK to be corrupt as long as you’re not a woman. That a man with no qualifications can beat a woman who’s prepared 30 years for the job. That it’s OK to vote someone in office who stands for hate and bigotry and misogyny, as long as it doesn’t affect you. Your vote has devastated me, because I know that’s not the man you are."
Mary Kate, 26
"I've never doubted that you love me. Your vote makes me feel like you don't respect me."
"Dad, your vote made me feel like you've grown distant from our Jewish heritage and forgotten all the suffering our people went through when they were persecuted for just being who they were. It made me feel like, as a woman, you don't actually respect my rights, the rights of others, or care whether my body is respected by other people."
"Dad, we've been through a lot together. Twenty-five years, nine surgeries, and all the ups and downs in between. I know you voted based on the policies you thought were best for the country, but it still hurts to know you can support a person who openly has no respect for women or differently-abled Americans. It hurts, but please know that I still love you, and we'll get through this, just like everything else."
"Dear Dad, when you express support for Trump because 'that's how the Church says you should vote,' it tells me that you are so interested in being what you think is a 'good Catholic' that you forgot how to be a Christian. Your vote directly affects me and my friends of minority groups, who are now afraid to go outside and have already had an increase in racial and/or homophobic slurs thrown their way. Your views that abortion and gun rights are greater than the health, well-being, and lives of the people who already live on this earth makes me upset and ashamed to be part of a family who treats these issues so lightly and is unable to emphasize with the very people that Jesus would've worked hardest to protect."
"Dad, when I asked you how you voted, you wouldn't admit that you voted for him. You danced and skirted the issue. You thought I disagreed with you because the only reason I wanted to vote for Clinton was because I was a woman. As a father of five daughters I thought you would respect our rights more than that. You made me realize that your white male privilege will never allow you to see our side. You made me feel small and like my voice doesn't matter, and if we don't have our own father in our corner fighting for us, then we really have to become louder and stronger!"
"Dad, your vote for Donald Trump makes me feel like anytime I have been touched inappropriately, spoken to offensively, or talked down to, was because I am a woman and that such treatment is not only acceptable, but comes with the territory."
"Dad, your support for Trump astonished me from the day you told me how you felt and I gave you the most dramatic eye roll ever. I couldn't understand how you, an incredible father of two women and grandfather to two extraordinary girls, could back a man who so clearly has never shown respect and honor towards women. I couldn't understand how you, also an immigrant, could agree with an immigration policy that closes its borders to so many and in turn closes us off to the world — a world you have always encouraged me to explore and be part of.
"I heard your desires for an improved country filled with change, and that you truly believe it will be found in the presidency of Donald Trump, but I still cannot understand how you could promote and support someone whose agenda does not respect me as a woman. Who does not think our family should have been able to come into this country and who above all has set a precedent of hate — something you never showed me was OK. You have always been an excellent example of a man and a leader and I am thankful to have had that. I wish the rest of the country had an excellent example to follow and that they don't find themselves having to look to our president elect as an example of an honorable man."
"Dad, I want you to know that I love you. No matter what happens next, nothing will ever change that. But I also need you to know that I've never felt more unsafe in my life than I do now that your candidate has won. I need you to know that the reality of a Trump presidency will endanger me and people like me. I want to tell you right now that I will never stop being the outspoken, feminist, liberal that I'm so grateful you inadvertently raised. You've always encouraged me to do the right thing, so I'm going to continue to fight for the civil rights of all Americans as peacefully as I possibly can. I hope you can continue to support that, and I hope you'll consider joining me."
"Dad, when you decided to cast your protest vote during this election by writing in yourself, of all people, it broke my heart. I'm a fierce liberal thanks of you and Mom, and for you to not consider just how detrimental such a vote could possibly be was extremely irresponsible on your part. That being said, I reserve the right to be angry with you for the foreseeable future. As you said to me 100 times through my teenage years whenever I messed up: 'I'm very disappointed in you.'"
"Dad, by voting for Trump you made me feel confused about whether or not you are proud of what I do for a living. How could you be when I work and am dedicated to supporting immigrant students and helping them to be successful and happy when they come to the U.S. to pursue their dreams? By voting for Trump you made me feel lost as to if you and I will ever really understand each other, or if you even want to."
"Dad, your vote for Donald Trump made me feel, ultimately, very sad. I don't agree with Trump's views on various things including his comments on women or his seemingly racist rhetoric. It makes me sad that, although you didn't agree with those things either, you voted for him anyways because you felt unheard by the current leaders of our country."
"Dad, your vote for Trump made me feel a little disappointed since we supported different candidates, but it also helped me realize that I, along with many others in America, need to listen more to people with different perspectives than my own, and listen with the goal of understanding instead of the goal of changing their minds."
"Dad, Although I did not like it, I could slightly understand why you voted against President Obama during the elections of 2008 and 2012. However, I can in no way, understand your vote for Trump. Not only as a veteran, but the father of two, shockingly independent, and passionate daughters, this vote does not make sense to me. You raised us to be proud, to believe in ourselves, and to stand strong in times of hardship, but you voted for a candidate who wants us to do the complete opposite. I hope someday I will understand your decision, but for now, I cannot understand how you voted for someone who so outwardly hates women, and therefore your daughters."
"Dad, when I was in first grade I remember you chasing a bully down the street to tell him the way he was treating me was unacceptable. You helped me feel safe. How am I to accept the fact that you helped elect a bully into office? A bully who actively wants to take away my rights to my body and who normalizes sexual assault. I do not feel safe."
"Even though you are not my biological father, you have meant just as much to me. But this election makes me question who you are and what values you hold. Your vote for Donald Trump shows me that you place getting a tax break above basic human decency and equal rights. Your vote for Donald Trump disrespects me as a woman who would like equal pay, access to safe and legal abortions, and equal rights and treatment for all of my friends who are women, POC, LGBTQ+, immigrants, and disabled. I am astounded how, as a new grandparent, you want your grandson to grow up in a country where it is OK to act as Donald Trump does."
"My mother informs me that now, knowing I am a sexual assault survivor, that you would take back your vote if you could. It should not have to hit so close to home for you to care about someone with different experiences than your own. I don't know if I will be able to get past this and that scares me."
"Dad, when Donald Trump got the GOP nomination, I knew you would vote for him. I knew you would call it a pro-life vote. I knew you would say Hillary was a crook and corrupt. You've done all of this before. But I thought when he admitted to sexual assault, you'd back down since both of your daughters are victims of sexual assault. When he openly mocked a disabled reporter, I thought you'd be done, since I have a physical disability myself. When he spewed racism, I thought you'd stop since your future grandchildren will be bi-racial. You didn't back down.
"You told me that facts don't matter. You are still entitled to your opinion. Dad, my husband, my future children, my sister, and I are entitled to our safety and dignity. I know you are not racist, xenophobic, sexist, and misogynistic yourself. I know you do good work and are a good man. I love you for that and for so much more. But right now, I am having a very hard time respecting you when you have shown no respect for me or for those that I love through your vote. I am very disappointed to find out that you are not the man I thought you were."
"Dad, I love you and I know you love me, but your vote for Trump left me feeling lost and confused. You decided it would be better to put a disgusting excuse for a man in this position rather than take a chance on letting Clinton in office because of Benghazi. Your vote told me you don't believe I should be allowed the same rights as you because of who I love, that it doesn't matter that I have been sexually assaulted, and that I am less because I am a woman. Your vote told me you approve of your grandchildren having Trump for a role model, no matter how much hate he spews. Your vote does not align with the beliefs I know you have, and was not based in love. Your vote showed me I do not have your support like I thought I did."
"Dad, Donald Trump has said hundreds if not thousands of disgusting and stupid things throughout this campaign and his life. He has insulted so many Americans that his words should forever disqualify him from being president in our minds. Words matter. They matter a lot. I know; I survived narcissistic emotional abuse from an old boyfriend. The words he said to me changed me forever. The cruel, insulting words of Donald Trump follow the pattern of my abuse. Those words will change America forever."
"Pops, we both know we have had our differences in the past. However, after this year's presidential election and your choice of candidate, I have realized that this is not just another simple matter of differences. This choice you have made makes me question the respect and confidence you have in me, your daughter, a young woman whom you are supposedly so proud of. How can you vote for a man who does not show women the smallest amount of decency, when you are teaching your daughter that she can do anything she sets her mind to? How can you openly support a man who has strongly considered appointing judges who would potentially overturn the Obergefell ruling, and who has chosen a vice president that believes in the concept of conversion therapy, when you very well know your daughter, her girlfriend, and many other people she loves are part of the LGBTQUIA+ community?"
"Never doubt that I love you with all of my heart, but your choice speaks louder than words to me. Just as you have always taught me to do, I will not panic. Instead, I will use my voice to fight for peace and for what is right."
"Viejo, when I heard your opinions on the LGBT community, I must say it scared me from telling you that I stand under that rainbow flag. Being with a man doesn't stop me from being bisexual. Trump as a President will affect me. Under his presidency, I will be subjected to the whims of a mad man because I am a LGBT Hispanic woman. His win has told my daughter that it's OK to be bullied and made to be a piece of property. His win has normalized my abuse/rape from the hands of my ex-husband. But I will not stand down. I will be voting in 2018, and you can bet my non-white rear that if my ex-husband couldn't stop me from changing my future for the better then neither will Trump."
"I was assaulted multiple times this year. You have seen me barely survive from day to day, and even try to end my life. You have seen how inadequate the police and the court systems are in enacting justice and protecting me, and despite so many others in society being ignorant and hateful despite glaring evidence, I thought you understood, but apparently not. How you could vote for an accused rapist after what I went through blows my mind."
"You were so hung up on the semantics of following what the religious church shoved down your throat, you failed to see the glaring truths in front of your nose. You failed to be humane, and I am pretty sure Jesus would be horrified at your choice and ignorance. This is an assault on the human rights of almost every race, gender and gender identification in America. How can you condone that??? And if you do, I don’t know who you are. Or, maybe I do now and it terrifies me. There will be no further communication until you own up to what you contributed to."
"Dad, your vote made me feel small. Your vote made me feel ashamed of where I came from. At the same time it reminded me that it doesn't matter how far I go, how much progress I make if I don't bring others along with me. Your vote has renewed my commitment to grow with instead of away from."
"Papi, The fact that you were able to escape Cuba in a homemade raft and come to this country due to the humane policies of Bill Clinton’s presidency makes your vote for Donald Trump even more difficult to accept. Your support of Trump means that you are willing to deny immigrants like us the same opportunities we’ve had. Just as you were escaping an unfair government, so are refugees. Yet you voted for a man with no sympathy or regard for anyone different from himself."
"As a Hispanic woman, I am especially disappointed that you gave your vote to someone who condones — or, more accurately, brags about — sexual assault, and who wants to limit my reproductive rights. I love you, but your vote has disappointed and disillusioned me in a way I didn’t know was possible."
Since the publication of this article, dozens of women have reached out to Bustle asking to be added to this piece so that their voices may be heard. Maybe if millennial women share their thoughts with their loved ones, whether online or in person, it can heal some of the hurt and conflict that has marked the 2016 election.