What is at Stake, Right Now

Anita Hill

Part 1: This Rotten Fucking Story

Sometimes, I close my eyes and fantasize about what life would be like with Hillary as president. I would have time to read books. I could take vacation days as actual vacation days and not protest days. Instead of being deeply re-traumatized every time I turn on the news, I would listen to the latest efforts to bring true gender equality to our country and the world. (I have worked with policy people who help set the agenda for women’s equality in governments across the globe, at the UN, and in all international governing bodies–I know exactly what we have lost, on a global scale, and I feel it deeply.) As a woman, instead of feeling shit upon on a daily basis, I would feel lifted up and validated and celebrated.

But, America, you didn’t chose that for us, did you.

You chose a harder road, but let me tell you, the end result will be the same. Women rose up. Women will continue to rise up. We have shouldered the burden, though our shoulders droop already with all of our collective responsibilities to mother, to make a living while earning less, to prop up men who, by and large, have not stood up to prop us up in this very crucial moment in time when, for all of our protesting and activism, men standing up in a very vocal way, men telling other men “this is not okay”–that is still the thing, in our fucking patriarchal society, that would make a significant difference.

Listen, America. 2020 is going to be something. We know now that we cannot count on you. But we can count on ourselves, and we will drag you kicking and screaming into a better world for women, whether you are with us or not. Because we are with ourselves, and together we can move mountains.

This quote is much on my mind of late, and though the subject is different (epidemic, historical racism feeding into the death of Black men in our country–that’s a whole separate rant for another day, but I think you can imagine what I might have to say about that), I feel it in my soul as my response to our own (women) collective rotten fucking stories:

“My hope is that learning something about our lives and the lives of the people in my community will mean that when I get to the heart…I’ll understand a bit better why this epidemic happened, about how the history of racism and economic inequality and lapsed public and personal responsibility festered and turned sour and spread here. Hopefully, I’ll understand why my brother died while I live, and why I’ve been saddled with this rotten fucking story.” ― Jesmyn Ward, Men We Reaped

Part 2: This One’s For The Fellas

This one is for the fellas. Ladies, feel free to scroll on or do some self care–y’all know all this already, have been saying it publicly and/or privately until you’re blue in the face.

So. Fellas. Here’s the thing.

There are a lot of men in our country who claim to be, shall we say, Defenders of Womanhood* (*generally really only White, conservative women). Their sense of manhood is couched in toxic masculinity and based on a false premise. They think they are helping. They are not.

If you claim that you will defend your womenfolk at all costs, because it makes you feel like a proper man, but what this actually means to you is tearing down and attacking liberal leaning women who speak their minds–you are not defending women.

If your premise for defending women is that said women are related to you (mother, daughter, wife, etc), you are not defending women. Women deserve equality because they just do, not because they are defined by a role related to you.

If you are a man and claim to be a feminist, yet you shy away from taking a strong public stance on feminist issues, or even worse try to lead or take credit for women’s work on these issues, you are not defending women.

If you enter into a public discussion on feminist issues, but all you do is gaslight or derail or mansplain, you are not defending women.

If all you really want is to hear the sound of your own voice, rather than stepping back and listening to what women have to say, and finding ways to amplify their voices and let them own these spaces fully, you are not defending women.

If you expect women to do all the work to bend over backwards and take time out of our busy lives to explain to you in friendly, non-threatening language what the complexities of the issues are, instead of doing your own damned research, you are not defending women.

If a woman speaks her truth to you and it makes you feel uncomfortable, or challenged, or angry, or less of a man, and instead of hearing her out and engaging in a learning opportunity, you throw a mantrum, or just shut down and walk away from the conversation completely, you need to do some self work around your own concepts of masculinity and femininity and gender roles, and then re-enter the conversation. Because without a willingness to do the fucking work, you are not defending women.

If you really want to defend women, STFU and listen to them. Do something nice for them, because they are probably fucking exhausted and have been since 2016. Take some tasks off of their plate, because they have enough to do. Do the dishes, clean the house, buy them flowers or chocolate or bulk cases of wine or whatever they actually like. Let them take a day off and chill with their gal pals, or go to a spa, or just collapse in an exhausted heap and nap for a bit, or stare at nature, or go for a hike.

If you really want to defend women, sign up for support roles during demonstrations.

If you really want to defend women, show up. Be present (but silent–if you need to know how to do that, just ask a woman; we have been doing that for years in male spaces, not by choice but because sometimes we just need a break from fighting the patriarchy, and we know our efforts are going to fall on deaf ears anyway).

If you really want to defend women, now is the time to step up. Our lives and bodily autonomy, our safety, not to mention our sanity–these are things that are really and truly on the line right now, and you are in a position to use your male privilege for good instead of evil.

End of angry feminist rant, part 2. If you have read this far, there may be hope for you, and humanity, yet.