Grabbing Power

Well, it happened. I used social media as a sounding board again. Similar to the provocation I felt during the Republican convention. Mostly venting, processing. You know, things like, “Everyone who voted for Trump tacitly agreed that raping and assaulting women and girls is acceptable collateral damage.” Or, “Shock. Inconsolable. Unbearable. How do we live through this? Survive this? Unite?” “There is no place safe for women. America is my abusive ex- husband.” You get the picture.

This is the worst political debacle in my lifetime. And Watergate was a formative experience for me. The resounding note clear to me is that misogyny won. Many Americans feel that evil won.

Chauvinism is everwhere and the Republican party is rife with it. On a policy level, the goal to control women’s bodies is enormous and the repercussions will be dire. As a matter of character, America has declared war on women. The fact that some women went eagerly along with this is upsetting, but not unexpected. After all, feminism is a course elective in life – not a fundamental part of our education.

Feminist is considered a dirty word. For many men, it’s a reviled concept and some women run from being tainted with it – as if it would make them less appealing or worthy of approval. These are the human beings who voted for Trump. These are the men and women who found a leader in Trump, both from the right and the left.

Misogynists have been gaslighting women and feminists for ages and Trump is the master. And he found a willing media to amplify his efforts. It’s so simple. If you feel too much pain — get over it! If you feel too much — shut it down! If we’ve hurt you, you’re crazy! If you were raped or assaulted — you are lying! If you are a woman — prove you are a paragon of virtue! If you promote a balancing of gender power and equality, you’re sexist! And on and on. And, sit back, shut up, and let us tell you how unlikable you are.

This paradigm is being used against African-Americans, Latinos, Muslims, Jews, the LGBTQ community, the disabled, artists, and more. We’ve just lived through the Trump campaign. So, we know who he’ll be with even more power – a man, a predator, that games everyone as a loser, who cannot comprehend that from vulnerability comes a greater strength.

But we feminists, we know this. We understand that facing our deepest pain and letting it see the light of day brings honor, not shame. Not only is this how we heal, it’s how we conquer. This is really the story of how America became great.

Hillary Clinton didn’t just trudge through thirty years of degradation — she stared down thousands of years of embedded bias. And when we told the world how much we admired and respected her, we were laughed at, scoffed at, beaten back.

Uneducated, white males voted for Trump in landslide measures. That is who we were running against. They don’t know how to face their fears and evolve – and they’ll be damned if they were going to let a woman tell them how to do it. We need a man to take charge! That, really, was their rallying cry.

In overwhelming numbers, American Jews supported Clinton. Except for the majority of Orthodox Jews. They are high-fiving themselves while the rest of us are justifiably feeling despair and trepidation. They are gleeful as we struggle to summon our inner strength and sense of grace.

Trump – and Pence – are a perfect match for the patriarchal, sexist narrative in Orthodoxy, where women can’t even be trusted to determine if their periods have sufficiently ended so they may resume sexual marital relations. Orthodox Jews embrace a plan that insists women have no place in public or communal spiritual life – that only men can rule in matters of law. Men are the arbiters of where and when women can speak or sing and how we must dress. They say it is God’s will, but conveniently, men are the only reliable interpreters of what that precisely is.

We have seen this play out in Israel and in other religious cultures and now we will see America tighten the reigns on women, in true Evangelical style. And by women, I also mean any group that is perceived as weaker or different – other.

And it is not just the Presidency – it is Congress, the Supreme Court, the Cabinet, a prevalent rape culture….we are brokenhearted and feeling hoodwinked, betrayed and stomped on. And to think we came so close to centuries-old wrongs being righted. The weight and terror of it is staggering.

So, this is my take-away from all of this. We must be even bolder! No more pussyfooting around about our beliefs and values, our insights, truths and leadership. What we are up against is all out there in the open.

I want to see two feminist women on the ticket in 2020. In the meantime, I hope someone is getting ready to fund a major Feminist news channel – all Feminism, 24/7. I want to see more feminists breaking barriers in America and around the world, including the Western Wall in Jerusalem. If you haven’t yet donated to a specific feminist cause, pick one and get involved. Emily’s List, The Feminist Majority, Jewish Women International, Ms. Foundation, The Women’s Political Caucus, NOW, Women of the Wall, Planned Parenthood, and others. https://www.bustle.com/articles/146007-5-feminist-non-profits-to-support-for-international-womens-day  Take a course in Feminism. Educate your kids about Feminism. We’ve harnessed tremendous power together and now we step up the pressure, take it to the max.

I grew up hearing Polish jokes denigrating the Poles in every possible manner, which fortunately, are not as popular today. But look what the women – especially young women – in Poland just accomplished: they collectively went on strike and staged a massive protest against a proposed ban on abortions, effectively forcing their Parliament to retreat and drop the legislation.

First, we sit shiva for our immediate hopes and dreams. Then, we get up and walk around the block. As I write, many thousands of protestors have already taken to the streets from coast to coast. We become the Resistance, we fight on, and in doing so, show the world just how courageous and unstoppable we truly are. We save ourselves, together. Take heart, because she and we won the popular vote.

About the Author
Dana is a Jewish feminist, writer and poet. She is passionate about her daughter, love, kindness, spirituality, the artist's voice, and speaking out for the vulnerable. She lives in Music City, Nashville, TN.
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