Feminism in the Age of Trump, and Where I Failed
The morning after the election, New York fell silent. As if awakening to a parallel universe, nothing about the city felt the same. The clouds weighed low and heavy. The usually packed morning subway was eerily empty. No one produced a sound, only the deafening murmur of steel and wind could evoke the passing of time. The woman seated across from me stayed fixated on the front page of her newspaper, unable to go any further than the headline: Trump Triumphs.
That whole day, we were all in shock. Our eyes wide from disbelief (or red and swollen from grief.) I couldn't bring myself to say anything. We were digesting. We were pinching our arms. We were shaken and hurt and fearful.
And then the anger came. Anger towards a misogynistic, racist, lying orange troll for his hateful rhetoric and vitriolic promises. Anger towards the millions of Americans, and the 42% of women, that voted for him. Anger towards the democratic party for lacking a message that could unite and resonate...The list goes on.
But on the third day, I started to examine my own complicity. As someone who calls myself an intersectional feminist, who has studied and written about feminist theory throughout the course of my educational career, who has benefited from a full-scholarship program that brings diversity to college campuses, who called for equality and justice for all, I have failed enormously.
I have failed the disenfranchised, the oppressed, the underserved "Other" who have for centuries been fighting for change and representation. Reading and sharing think pieces and tweets about systemic racism, trans rights, homophobia, etc., does not make a me a feminist or an ally. It makes me a passive and ineffectual liberal straight white cis-woman taking advantage of her privilege.
Though my heart ached at the news of yet another African American man (or woman, or child) killed by police brutality, I never took to the streets. Though I was infuriated by schools refusing to let children use the bathroom corresponding to the gender they identified with, I didn't try to change the law. Though immigrants, gays, people of color, Muslims, women seeking abortions, or other underprivileged or disenfranchised groups have experienced hate and aggression long before Trump toured the country, and though they've been actively, passionately, fighting for freedom that is refused to them each day, I vowed, from the comfort of my couch, that I too believed in their cause. And yet I did nothing.
If there is a silver lining to this election, it is that this has urged so many of us blinded by privilege to take action. To unite. To mobilize. Feminism in the age of Trump must fight harder, must speak louder, and must actively engage in intersectional activism. We must not just partake in its discourse, but take responsibility for our complacency and commit to participating in efforts against oppression of all people. With 53% of white women having voted for Trump, white feminists clearly need to wake up and realize they have a lot of work ahead of them. We must collectively organize with the ones we've left behind and fight along, and for, them. We must fight for not only our freedom as women, but for our freedom as a nation in which hate does not trump acceptance, equality, or compassion.
Here's what we need to do:
1. With so many civil liberties and people's rights at stake, and with so many to fight for still, our money can go a long way. Donate. (And remember that you can make donations in other people's names...like Mike Pence, for instance.)
Here are some options:
- The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
- Planned Parenthood
- Black Lives Matter
- The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
- Human Rights Campaign (HRC)
- Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)
- Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)
- Center for Reproductive Rights
2. Pay for journalism so that the media can continue to have an independent voice seeking to bring out the truth.
Here are some options:
- The New York Times
- The Washington Post
- ProPublica (non-profit Pulitzer price winning independent newsroom, accepts donations)
3. Take concrete action against Trump's white house appointments (and beyond...) by calling your senator or representative.
4. Join a grassroots community, local chapter, or be part of a national movement. (I've decided to attend meetings held by the Democratic Socialist party, but have also made a pledge to attend local meetings aiming to fight for change and equality.)
4. Don't just attend the protests that directly affect you. Fight for all causes feminism stands behind and should be supporting.
Here are some upcoming New York area protests:
- Organizing Post Trump (Nov 18)
- Stand Up For Planned Parenthood (Nov 30)
- Love and Equality Rally (Dec 3)
- Not Straight Against Hate (Dec 17)
- Women's March on Washington - NYC chapter (Jan 21)
5. If you don't live in the U.S., realize that there are ways for you to take action, too. Xenophobic, racist, and populist sentiments are continuously growing within Europe, as Brexit clearly proved, and the rise of Le Pen (who called Trump's election a "sign of hope") indicates.
Most of us white women have failed feminism. Now's the time to do our part, and become the allies we were supposed to be all along.