Tag: 2016

Weekend Links

“…it was her habit to build up laughter out of inadequate materials.”
― John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

Every single person I have met or spoken to, in person or on the phone, has asked me to comment on election. In pitch meetings, in coffee shops, random markerters. It’s been surreal. Lots of conversations with lots of inspiring female friends have been good to process initial anger, writing has helped organize thoughts, and work has been good to keep things feeling normal. But the great takeaway for me this week is that voting isn’t enough and anger needs to be harnessed. I’m going to be speaking up more and more importantly looking for ways to act more for causes I care about and learn to be a better ally.

In the meantime, we’ll return you to mostly regularly scheduled topical content next week, pending any other major socio political shocks. But I’m sort of begging 2016 to give us a bit of a break for the holidays. This has been a rough year, universe!

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Roxanne Gay says much of what I feel.

In a relatively recent conversation with a family member I opined that, for all I am strongly left leaning, I do not dismiss conservatism. I think there are intelligent and compelling cases to be made on a number of issues–none of which seemed present in this election cycle. I opined that the “elder statesmen” of the party seemed to have vanished and with them a range of skills and experience in politics, negotiation, and compromise necessary for the sake of more broadly accepted policy and collective governing (by which I mean republican democracy). I may be a liberal, but I do not cheer this: I find it dangerous. Hence I found this piece from just before the election worth reading. Curious to your opinions in the comments, kittens.

There were some cracks put in the ceiling, never fear.

Sharing one more time for good measure, because yikes.

Things are going to have to get awkward for a bit, kids. Buckle up and get to work.

Get inspired.

You also a bleeding heart liberal? Find some causes and donate. If you can’t give money, give time.

And finally, I’m willing to wait and work for it.

I would watch the heck out of “The Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean.”

So, this is apparently where the professional promised land is.

Planet Earth II has started here in the UK and this clip from the first episode is the stuff of inspiration/nightmares.

Ha! (h/t Savvy)

Finding some optimism in this medical story.

 

The Woman Card We’ve Been Dealt

“We still think of a powerful man as a born leader and a powerful woman as an anomaly.”
― Margaret Atwood

Still processing my thoughts, and I’m trying to stay classy about it but the honest to god first thought I had the morning after was, “Wow. America really doesn’t like women.” Do I mean everyone? Of course not. Do I mean explicitly? No. Next to no one in this country is running through the streets with “Down with women!” signs or stroking cats evilly in a dark room somewhere, contemplating wrapping us in burkas.

I mean that as a culture, women are often instinctively reacted to as unworthy of being believed, supported, or followed. From rape survivors and wage equality to work leadership and our own health and care, we are not considered trustworthy in making decisions, telling truths, or seeking advancement. Suspicion and wariness are often the default. Our narratives are questioned before they are listened to much less believed.

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I did not vote for Secretary Clinton because she is a woman, though goodness knows I found the idea of the first female president breathtaking. I don’t think most people who voted against her did so because she is a woman. But I do think the culture and undercurrents about and towards women played a significant role in how she was perceived and treated by media, her opponents, and a lot of the electorate.

As women, almost every day, we see examples and stories of how our ambitions are threatening and (worse!) unattractive, our stories of victimization are suspect, those of us needing help are lazy or manipulative or moochers, our desires for control over our bodies are antagonistic or selfish, our expectations of work life balance are unreasonable, our emotions are unstable. We are not trusted. And I cannot help but see much of this inherent distrust in how Secretary Clinton was viewed and treated in this election. Her ambitions were unseemly, her cautiousness weak, her outspokenness offensive, her experience invalid, her whole candidacy insufficient and suspect.

Am I partisan? Yes. I have seen examples of sexism throughout my personal and professional life, and in the lives of women and girls I know and respect. These experiences of course inform my point of view and my politics.

But I don’t necessarily think that means I’m wrong.

*This post expanded on comments left on a Broadside post

Where Do We Go From Here?

“The private life of men of power isn’t what we expect, sometimes.”
He jerked up his chin. “People have some very odd illusions about power. Mostly it consists of finding a parade and nipping over to place yourself at the head of the band. Just as eloquence consists of persuading people of things they desperately want to believe. Demagoguery, I suppose, is eloquence sliding to some least moral energy level.” He smiled bleakly at his boot. “Pushing people uphill is one hell of a lot harder. You can break your heart, trying that.”
– Lois McMaster Bujold, Komarr

The Brexit vote was when I realized it was an actual possibility. Until that point I had dismissed him as ludicrous, a tangerine wannabe demagogue with absurd hair and even more absurd ambitions. After the vote I never discounted him again, but I didn’t think he’d win. He couldn’t. His language was so ugly, his platform xenophobic, his sexism proudly displayed instead of sheepishly passive, that I thought it would be his eventual downfall. Like so many people, I’ve been reeling to see how wrong I was.

The first words said to me by a Brit today, preceded by a cautious look, were, “My god. Your country.” I flinched.

My country, yes, but one that I don’t feel in particular harmony with at the moment. What Mr. Trump seems to have tapped into is very real and painful fear and resentment and I don’t dismiss that. If anything, I think the one thing his campaign should get some credit for is helping to reveal that we as a nation to not have our **** nearly together as we would like the rest of the world to think. We scratched our surface and found a lot of damage under what turned out to be a thin layer of gloss.

But even in spite of that I didn’t think he would win.

I’ve been very open about the fact that I found Mr. Trump’s campaign both ridiculous and repugnant. I am baffled at how a privileged seeming-narcissist, several times over a failed businessman who somehow apparently retains an obscene amount of money, a bully, a braggart, and self-proclaimed prophet of self-interest managed to convince anyone that he would be the champion and voice of the dispossessed. I don’t get it.

I am not particularly afraid of Donald Trump individually, indeed I’m wondering how he will find the office of the president in actuality vs. the perception of the office. History shows us that many men may covet thrones, but seldom do they covet the accompanying desks and paperwork. His temperament, crassness, impatience, utter lack of humility, and apparent inability to focus make him, in my opinion, imminently unsuitable for the role. I anticipate he will rely on a bevy of advisers for support, which is not unusual in and of itself until you review their CVs; these men (mostly speaking) and their self-avowed agendas do frighten me.

Whether out of genuine conviction or simply because they saw a way to leverage rage into power, or some poisonous mixture of both, these people who he has chosen to surround himself with (or have managed to surround him, I’m unsure which is the case) have stoked the fires of racial resentment and misogyny. They have purposefully fanned flames of mistrust so that even reputable facts and data is suspect or rejected if it does not support opinion. Science has been dismissed, minority groups targeted, women attacked. The jury is out on whether some have tried to wield the power of non-elected offices and positions of information privilege in a biased way.

I am baffled that so many of the same people who eight years ago decried then-Senator Obama’s “lack of experience” as disqualifying and his candidacy as divisive, are now lauding a reality TV personality who kicked off his campaign accusing a whole community of being druggies and rapists–before going on to mock or attack the disabled, veterans, PoC, women…basically every facet of the population besides white men. I think a lot of people have been sold several ideas in this election (walls, unconstitutional religious tests, sweeping statements of action that exceed the limits of the office) that will likely never come to be. I wonder if the anger will eventually turn back against the hand that has fed it when these promises don’t materialize. I wonder if only promises would have proved be enough to calm fears of and resentment against a changing world. I wonder which is ultimately worse.

Brexit was only one side of this. Mr. Trump’s victory is just another. There is a rising tide of nationalism, xenophobia, and rabid fear of a world that is getting smaller and closer all the time. This tide is what I am afraid of. Intensely. But even seeing that this is the big picture, the election feels deeply and painfully personal to me.

My country has followed the election of its first black president with the election of a man who has been endorsed by the KKK.

The glass ceiling remains. My country would rather see a man elected who incites violence, speaks in racial dog whistles, lies outright without shame, and brags about sexual assault among other misogynistic speech, than a woman.

My country is divided. Mr. Trump has run a campaign of disenfranchisement and divisiveness and now has to bring a country together. Good luck. Both political parties have engaged in intense partisan rhetoric and actions over the last decade, but my opinion is that the right has invested far more in fanning fears and resentments in an effort to win back power. They have actively engaged in rabble rousing and now the rabble is roused. Anger may be vindicated, but I don’t believe it will simply go quietly away.

We’ve elected a reality TV personality. That’s humiliating. Politics and entertainment have long been mixed, but this is downright dystopian.

I’m disheartened. I’m afraid for the implications for the LGBT community, existing legal rights for women including abortion, minority communities, and others.

I genuinely thought the power of fear, distrust, and any number of -isms, was weaker than it is proving to be in my eyes. I believed my country looked different, thought differently than it is proving to do. I will answer calls for unity, I will take Secretary Clinton’s gracious concession speech words to heart, that “fighting for what is right is always worth it.”

But I am tired. I am disappointed. And I don’t think the problems raised (and in many cases purposefully manipulated) in this election are resolved.