2017: The year of the woman
By Mary Keyes Rogers | Dec. 17, 2016
Year of the woman? Yes, I know that our nation’s first female presidential candidate lost to the misogynist. I know how dark things look right now for the men and women who support the progressive agenda of equality and protecting women’s rights.
Had Hillary Clinton actually won, supporters would have known that their issues would be in the capable and manicured hands of a female president. We could relax, secure in the knowledge that she had our collective back.
Instead, we now face a very different political landscape where reproductive health, access to birth control and pay equity are threatened. Not to mention that “locker room talk” is not only excusable but apparently acceptable. I believe that in this defeat we will see a louder and more active women’s movement to bring equal opportunity for women to the forefront.
From where I sit, I see newcomers answering the call for women’s rights, including young women, middle-aged women, grandmothers and teens. The “pussy-grabbing” and “blood coming out of wherever” comments did more to get the attention of women than Clinton ever inspired on her own.
Although I remain curious to know why more women didn’t see voting for Clinton as the collective slap-across-the-face response, I do believe that there is something to be gained by the result. That something is a nation of pissed-off women. I am delighted to welcome these newly pissed-off women into the fold. Not only must we maintain and protect what our bra-burning mothers and suffragette grandmothers achieved on our behalf; we must now fight again to be treated with dignity and equality in the workplace and in every space. Without a woman in the White House, without equal representation in the cabinet or in Congress, something exciting is afoot: grassroots activism.
I hear from women, regardless of how they cast their ballot, that the campaign dialogue raised their awareness of how women continue to suffer from gender-based discrimination, harassment and denigration. With Clinton’s defeat, even if they contributed to it with their vote, they are organizing, mobilizing, writing letters and checks.
2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Silent Sentinels of the National Woman’s Party picketing Woodrow Wilson’s White House, the protest action that finally led to the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting women the right to vote. The peacefully picketing women were beaten, arrested and jailed.
On Jan. 21, the first day of the new administration, the Women’s March on Washington and satellite marches in every state of the country will unite women and supportive men peacefully demonstrating their collective response to the new political climate.
The official mission statement of the march reads:
“The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us — immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault — and our communities are hurting and scared. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.
“In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.
“We support the advocacy and resistance movements that reflect our multiple and intersecting identities. We call on all defenders of human rights to join us. This march is the first step towards unifying our communities, grounded in new relationships, to create change from the grassroots level up. We will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society. We work peacefully while recognizing there is no true peace without justice and equity for all.
“HEAR OUR VOICE.”
Well, it’s about time. I believe that women have become complacent. Feminism became an old-fashioned and negative idea. Rush Limbaugh’s pejorative “feminazi” term created the mistaken belief that the women’s movement sought superiority over men rather than equality. The 700 Club’s Pat Robertson said, “Feminism is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”
Over the past two decades, younger women have taken their rights for granted. They took for granted that they are and will be protected from discriminatory and abusive practices. Some seem genuinely shocked by how recently women in this country had to fight for what we have now. Those very rights, we must remind everyone, were fought for and won with the outspoken courage of pissed-off women.
Would this reborn feminist spirit have occurred with a Clinton victory? Yes, no, and maybe so. If so, it would have been with an air of bona fide confidence beneath their wings. In this reality of defeat, it will be anger and fear that give them lift and power. If you’ve ever gone into a fight with a woman, you will find her confidence much easier to squelch than her anger or fear.
Hello, my name is Mary, and I am a pissed-off feminist. Happy New Year.
To learn more about the Women’s March on Washington, visit womensmarch.com. You can also find several Facebook pages with information on local, regional and state events happening on Jan. 21.
Mary Rogers is the host of The Experience 50 Podcast for Midlife and an actively engaged citizen of Grand Traverse County. She lives in Traverse City.