The Fempire Strikes Back

Feminism has never been

about getting a job for one woman.

It’s about making life more fair

for women everywhere.

It’s not about a piece

of the existing pie;

there are too many of us for that.

It’s about baking

a new pie.

~ Gloria Steinem ~

Make no mistake, we are on the precipice of a revolution.  If yesterday showed us anything, it showed us that.  We are living in a world on the edge, precariously balanced, just waiting to be turned upside-down – people are pissed off, fired up, and speaking out in a way I’ve never seen firsthand.

And you know what?  We should be.

march-down-thirdFor me, yesterday was probably the most meaningful moment of at least the last decade – if not my entire life.  I live in a relatively small city that expected a turnout of about 5,000 marchers for the protest, and that was before the promise of rain; on the morning of the march, the event’s Facebook page reflected 8,000 people planned to attend; by the end of the day, the local news channels reported an estimated 15,000 people participated.  There were protest songs reminiscent of the 1960s; leaders of the local chapters of Planned Parenthood and NAPAWF; representatives from the local Muslim and immigrant communities…

And so many beautiful, empowered women, men, and children.

We arrived early to make sure we found a parking spot to find that the lot at the meet-up point (a local park downtown) was already backing up and overflow was being directed to the football stadium’s lots.  We were able to get a spot near the stage, but once the event began we took a second to look around; we were absolutely crammed in the center of an enormous crowd, the park was so packed that protesters were forced to remain on the pedestrian bridge overlooking the park and, despite the fact that they couldn’t hear anything that was being said from the stage far below, they were cheering and waving their signs.  It was hard not to be moved, to be overwhelmed; for me, it felt as if something inside, some fist that had been clenched for months, suddenly and quite abruptly relaxed.  And my marching buddy Ems and I turned to each other to see we both had tears in our eyes, and later, when we could hear ourselves speaking to one another, we found it was for the same reason:

We realized we truly weren’t alone.

I live in a small blue city in a big red state.  I work with ultra-conservative, ultra-religious men and women who, while working in the office, loudly challenge anyone to argue with them about their right to carry their guns into church (without every noting how ironic it is to do so while praying in the name of a man who preached forgiveness and peace), proclaim themselves against science until their children need it for fertility purposes (in which case they do a 180 and say those doctors are okay because, and I quote, “God gave the doctor the knowledge to answer the prayers of the parents, so it’s still God’s child, not science’s”), argue theology (usually Baptists, which most of the office is, denouncing Methodists, Muslims, Jews, and Catholics), blame random banking and government issues on “the Jews,” and lump all Middle Eastern people into a race called “Muslim.”  Even those I foolishly assumed to be more liberal, such as a 65-year-old homosexual man in a biracial relationship, fall in line behind the Red Elephant and believe their own lifestyles have doomed them to damnation.

courthouseSo it’s no great surprise that I don’t typically discuss politics or religion at work.  I never have, but now I really don’t.  At all.  Not even in the midst of all that’s happening.  If we have to say anything at all, the other handful of anti-Trump employees will speak in brief whispers to one another… but that’s it.  I’m in the habit of dropping my voice when speaking of politics or religion in other public areas, as well, because people seem to have forgotten that everyone is entitled to an opinion, even if it disagrees with their own.

I have a handful of liberal associates and family members, one ultra-liberal friend, one usually-conservative friend (who, as a sensible middle-class black woman who has to pay for her own healthcare, voted liberal in this past election), and one friend who isn’t political at all and has no interest in news or current events.  So to see so many signs and hear so many voices, so many men and women, so many races and genders, so many lifestyles and ages and ethnicities, all gathered together on a grey, gloomy day, to know suddenly that I wasn’t alone, that me and my small social and family circles weren’t adrift in a sea of hate and bigotry and Coal-n-Oil, was overwhelmingly beautiful.  It was a relief.  It was liberating.  It was empowering.  I had my Pussy Hat (thanks, Le Mumz!), we had our signs, and we, along with millions of others across the globe, raised our voices and cried: “This is what Democracy looks like!”

And it was all done peacefully.

But it can’t end there.  If ever there was a need for action, it is now, my friends – this is the new revolution.  This is what Democracy looks like.

What Can I Do Now?

Give.

john-lewisTime or money, sweat or blood, it’s clear you cannot get what you want, deserve, or need without giving one of the above.  I’ve listed a few of my favorite causes and charities below that could really use the help – now more than ever, but a quick Google search will pull up just about any other cause you could imagine.  Make sure to let others know about your monetary donations by posting on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook so your friends can jump on the bandwagon!  This has actually been my preferred method of fighting for causes in the past; you can make anonymous donations or donations in the names of others – one very popular method of donation right now is to make those donations to more liberal causes in the names of the new führer and his cohorts.

The American Civil Liberties Union is a champion of individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution.  You can become a member here:  Join the ACLU or donate to them here:  Donate to the ACLU.

EarthJustice is the largest non-profit environmental law organization in the country, and they provide their clients representation free of charge.  Their work protects wildlife, communities, and paves the way for clean energy.  You can donate to them here:  Donate to EarthJustice.

The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum is a group focused on the concerns of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.  You can become an individual member or join a local chapter here:  Local NAPAWF Chapters or you can donate to them here: Donate to NAPAWF.

People often forget that Planned Parenthood offers more than just abortion services – they are the largest sexual and reproductive healthcare provider in the country.  Without their services, many young and / or impoverished women would not have access to prenatal care, preventative checkups, or birth control.  Donate to Planned Parenthood.

The Sierra Club is  a grassroots environmental protection organization with chapters in the U.S. and Canada.  They focus on green policies – such as clean and renewable energy, climate change, global warming, opposition to coal and gas, and protection of the country’s wilderness.  You can become a member here: Join Sierra Club or donate to them here:  Donate to Sierra Club.

The Union of Concerned Scientists works to create solutions to the planet’s most pressing scientific problems through research, advocacy, and policy.  Donate to UCS.

Think.

Racism and bigotry and hate work in all directions, folks – being a minority doesn’t make you exempt from the ability to be racist, and being for female empowerment doesn’t make it okay to hate men just for being men; in fact, the rise of one group should not require the absolute destruction or fall of another.  Even worse, minorities tend to marginalize other minorities.  If nothing else, you can never have too much knowledge about races, genders, sexuality, privilege, class, and power structure.

The British Broadcasting Corporation is one of our daily sources for news these days.  I don’t know how well they do reporting British current events, but during the US Presidential campaign and in the months following, I’ve watched more and more of our homegrown news sources split themselves right down the middle – it seems you either find way left agendas or way right, and those journalists still fighting the good fight are growing more biddable rather than less in the face of personal attacks and litigation from a world leader who is so weak and insecure that he can’t handle criticism or even comedy at his expense.  So, sad and scary as it is, it’s growing more necessary to look outside of our own country for the truth – plus, the world is so interconnected these days, it’s really a good idea to keep informed on what’s happening everywhere as much as possible: the BBC.

The Community Toolbox has a wealth of great articles in its arsenal to help increase cultural competence and foster open and diverse communication for community development:  Culture & Diversity.

I’m a big fan of NPR and have found them to be fairly unbiased in their reporting, though they do typically have a more leftist lean.  But for those of you trying to remain neutral and obtain as much of your political current events news as possible from local sources, NPR might be the choice for you:  NPR’s Politics Podcast.

Crooked Media has two great offerings for those who are fired up and ready to hear the truth sans sugar-coating:  Pod Save America for domestic (U.S.) political issues and Pod Save the World for world news and politics.

Rachel Maddow‘s is one of the most intelligent mainstream media daily shows you can find these days; to be honest, I have mad respect for this woman and have no idea how she can contain all the information she does in just one head.  But for those of you who are constantly multitasking, her podcast provides a portable version of the audio from those shows.  You can find her here:  MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.

Act.

As I said above, donating money has been our usual method of backing causes in which we believed… but desperate times call for radical measures, my friends, and it is time to get those fists in the air, those voices raised, and those feet to marching!  As yesterday’s march has shown us, it is possible for a massive global protest to be carried out peacefully – we made history yesterday, folks, and all with no violence!  Getting together with like-minded folks was what I needed, it was cathartic, it was a release of breath that I hadn’t even known I’d been holding since November.  And as we’ve seen, it gets attention, it turns heads, and people who otherwise might have remained silent on the sidelines will add their voices to the cause.  But marching and protesting is not all we can do!

Get ’em where it hurts.  Companies are in the business of making money, and by carefully selecting to whom you give your hard-earned cash is a grand way to get your message across – doubly so if you send them a message also letting them know why you will not (or will) do business with them going forward.  To help you out, here’s a Guide to Ethical Purchasing, which shows political contributions and endorsements made by companies.

Reach out to those in charge.  The people you’ve elected should have your interests in mind when forming policies, but it’s always a toss-up as to whether or not they’re hearing you, right?  And don’t believe for a second that just because your elected official is a Democrat that they’re backing the policies important to their voters; we wouldn’t be in the situation we’re in now if the DNC had remained grounded and in touch with their base, so get your voice heard!  Call or write – but check out this article first, written by a former staffer with tips on how to get your message across effectively:  Making Your Congressman Listen.

Breathe.

And most importantly of all, don’t forget to take a step away from it all every now and again.  Catch your breath.  Find your moment of zen.  Remember who you’re doing this for and why.  Edgar Mitchell once said, “From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty.  You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.'”  While we can’t all go to the moon, we do all happen to live in the cosmos’s most beautiful gem, and we can take advantage of that beauty just about any time we want: take a day to visit the public park, climb a mountain, hike in the woods, visit no-kill shelters and animal sanctuaries, watch the sun set over the ocean – go wherever that place is in the world that refills your soul, look out over the vast beauty of it all, remember that there are still good, strong, kind people in this world who want to do the right thing, remind yourself that this is so much bigger than you or I or Them, and in your own way tell those in power:

Look at that, you son of a bitch. 

ziemski-change-gandhi

 

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