The Victim

Chapter Two: Friends

The patriarchy

It’s been two weeks and still no word - don’t I deserve it? He doesn’t return my calls, or my texts, and he won’t answer the door. Why? Why does he blame me? It irritates me. No, it drives me crazy. I need to make things right. Anyway… in the meantime I attend college and prepare for her campaign. The primary election for mayor is in only four months. I spend more and more time with her, correcting speeches, and taking on new responsibilities.

We train for her interviews, we attend every relevant social event, we hold dinners for relevant donors… It takes me a full two weeks to realize I have to choose: I can either work on her campaign full time or study. She finished law school last year. “… you know, you don’t really lose the whole year, only the first semester,” she mentions during lunch. “Besides, it’d be nice to take a break from studying, wouldn’t it? I was actually tired of studying all that ‘history of law’ nobody gives a—” “Ok, ok, I get it,” I interrupt her.

She stops and looks down to her plate. “I’m sorry, it’s just I… I really need you. I don’t think I can do this on my own.” I sigh and take her hand. “I know, I know. Don’t worry.” Putting all my eggs in this basket may not be the best idea, but I can’t leave her hanging.

At first it seems like she’s going to obliterate the other candidates. She’s a young, clear voice denouncing relevant social and economic issues. The mainstream liberal candidate is an old, boring pasty white fossil out of touch with the world - in an interview, he actually said “We need an agency to investigate people who use that… the… that green frog that white supremacists use as their pet.” Feels bad man.

The others are relevant, sure, but… you know. They are all experienced politicians: a couple of former congressmen, political commentators, two actors and other committee executives. But at the start of the second week of campaigning, the favorite liberal candidate has a massive stroke after ingesting several pounds of shellfish during a fundraising dinner. Obviously, he has to step down, and another individual (who, interestingly enough, was at the dinner where the former candidate almost died) receives the support of both natdec and the president. “Don’t worry, people are bored of rich white men telling them what’s best for them,” says my girlfriend.

I feel like she’s underestimating the man. After a little research, I can see he has had a relatively calm career. He’s a solid public servant with thirty-two years of experience, a wife, kids and no scandals. His platform is straightforward: he wants to get the city out of its prolonged recession and attract federal funds for his many social security programs. He projects confidence, stability and reliability. The race will be close, no doubt.

The first public debate we have scheduled is in only two weeks, and she has never actually… well, participated in one. Her uncle sends us a team of two people to train. Each day we go over questions about her political agenda for at least two hours. They try to corner her, but she manages to stay on top. When they say she’s too young and inexperienced, she counters that by saying “I won’t make the same mistakes they (current and former corrupt officers) have made.” It all looks promising.

Finally the moment comes to face natdec’s candidate and a radical liberal in a face-to-face debate. It’s held in a large auditorium, broadcasted over internet, radio and tv. For the first half hour, everything goes fine. But then, natdec’s candidate begins building up pressure. “… I’m sorry, but I think you’re being paranoid here,” he says. “Just look at the statistics. There’s only two men in the city council, and there’s only two white members! I believe that accurately reflects our racial situation.”

He is cheered and applauded by the audience. She comes back quickly: “Maybe in the council, yes. But what about the many chairmans, the attorney general, or the chief of police? That’s a nice, cozy white men’s club they’ve got going on there. And not precisely a very legal one.” Part of the audience bursts in laughter. “You know, you’re right about that,” he replies. “Corruption is intolerable, and a small group hoarding all the power is also unacceptable. Which is why I said I will not only clean the streets, but I will also clean the executive offices.”

“You know you wouldn’t have to do that if your party hadn’t corrupted it in the first place…” she snaps. I can see her getting upset. It’s exactly what I was afraid of. She walked into this thinking she had all the support. “You know,” he starts. “Those scandals have nothing to do with this election: they are affiliated to a party that backs me, but… I mean neither I nor many other members of my party have nothing to do with them. Also, you know there’s many men and women doing an incredible job at the city hall who had nothing to do with those other officers, right?”

“In fact, now that you’re on the topic of public servants…” he goes on. I can already see where this is going. “I wanted to ask you: how are you qualified to this office? From what I know, all you’ve done is tweet and prepare violent protests, and never had to solve any actual problems.” She opens her mouth to say “well, I—” but he continues talking. “What are you going to do to get us out of recession, if you even have anything planned?” Again she opens her mouth but he goes on. “Will you go running to your uncle whenever you have a problem?”

“Ok, I think that’s enough…” starts the “mediator,” but she’s already lost her composure. “You know what I find really funny about people like you?” she lashes out. I close my fingers and pray she sticks to racial issues. “You think, because you’ve been entitled your whole life—” “Entitled to what?” he interrupts her. “Entitled to being a rich white cis male born in a first-world country. Entitled to having family ties to politics you have used to get here. What do I have to show for myself? No, what do you—” she points a finger at him “… have to prove you’re actually a good manager and not just someone born into power?”

The radical candidate limits himself to watching the other two battle it out. He may as well be eating glue. “Look, hon—” he interrupts himself before he says the full word. “You are—” “No, no, no,” she interrupts him. “Finish that sentence. Say what you wanted to say: honey” she makes it sound so dirty, I love it. He says nothing. “Right then and there. You just showed your attitude toward women and the source of all your problems with me. It’s not my age, it’s not my political experience, it’s not my uncle: it’s my gender!”

Many people in the room applaud her, and others boo her. “Please, order, please,” asks the mediator unconvincingly. He looks french. “I think you are blowing what I said out of proportion. Yes, I was going to call you honey, because you are a young, beautiful girl. Is that wrong? Me, and the rest of the men and women in this room, still respect you as a candidate, even if some of us might call you ‘honey,’ which is something I call my kids.”

The crowd’s shouting becomes louder. There’s people protesting the words he used, and people protesting the people protesting. The mediator surrenders and shuts down the debate, claiming there’s “a threat to the candidates’s safety.” My girlfriend steps down and we walk to the car. “How did I do?” she asks. I smile back and say, “You did great… I-I’m so proud.”