Principles of Resistance

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There is so much to write about right now for a political blogger, yet I don’t think I’m alone in being so overwhelmed that I’ve struggled to put words down. I could write about the Muslim ban (yes, it is a Muslim ban). I could write about senseless alienation of our allies, like Australia, only to satisfy President Trump’s brash pride. I could write about his threats to send troops to Mexico (again, our ally). I could write about the confirmation of an oil executive as our Secretary of State, or the nomination of an EPA adversary to run the very same agency. I could write about the travesty that is the nomination of Betsy DeVos. I could write, as I have in the past, about the infiltration of our Executive Branch by advocates of institutional racism, such as Jeff Sessions.

Of all the freedoms Trump has threatened either in word, deed, appointment, or Executive Order, let’s confront the very First (with an intentional capital F): the First Amendment right to free speech, press, and peaceful assembly. For those of you who take Trump’s threats to this freedom seriously, I commend you. For those who insist these are empty threats, I implore you to open your eyes. Trump has made evident since his very first day in office that he is not joking. The delusion that this may all be a charade needs to stop here and now. The normalization of Trump and his administration needs to stop here and now.

A white supremacist being a lead advisor to the President is not normal, but Stephen Bannon’s language, if not his fingerprints, are on every single order and statement that Trump issues. The nomination of an Attorney General whose history of racism rendered him too contentious to be confirmed to a federal judgeship is not normal, but Jeff Sessions’ nomination is advancing to the full Senate, where he will surely be confirmed. A President who refuses to divest from a multibillion dollar business or, at a bare minimum, be transparent about his tax returns is not normal, but these conflicts have been permitted to fall to the wayside, even by his opposition. A mass disavowment of facts is not normal, yet they appear to have no consistent value in America’s new “reality.”

Returning to free speech and press rights: Trump has forbidden his staff to give interviews to news outlets that displease him. He has told civil servants that if they do not agree with him, they should leave rather than register their concerns (even through the official State Department dissent channel that’s existed since the Vietnam War). He’s berated individual journalists. He’s chastised peaceful protesters. He’s threatened to withdraw federal dollars from schools where protests occur. He fired Sally Yates, who questioned the legality of his Executive Order (which, by the way, was part of her job description as Attorney General).

We can and will fight back. We must fight back. But I wonder aloud: can we undo the damage that has been done by Trump’s promotion of his favorite concept of “fake news”? Trump’s supporters now live in a world where increasingly, objective fact does not exist. You could cite any statistic in the world. You could cite any direct quote. You can cite any study or history book. It doesn’t matter. If it displeases them or the President, surely it’s fake news. How do we undo that? Even with a press that has sterling integrity (which is impossible. There will always be the National Enquirer — WHICH, by the way, Trump has praised — and the like), I am apprehensive that the concept alone of “fake news” is here to stay, and its political implications are enormous.

So what do I recommend we do? First, I place the disclaimer that I can only guess. But here are the principles I propose we, the increasingly organized resistance, adopt right now:

  • We take seriously the threats that Trump poses to free speech and reject them every single time a new one surfaces, registering this rejection in all ways possible (letters/calls to representatives and media, peaceful protest, social media, etc.). We resolve to make President Trump know he will garner no admiration by painting a free press as his adversary.
  • We protest nonviolently, but with all the conviction and passion our minds and bodies can muster.
  • We support protest by those with whom we disagree as long as it is nonviolent and protected by the First Amendment (Note that hate speech is protected by the First Amendment, but there are strategies to mitigate conflicts arising from hate speech without violating First Amendment rights. Also be mindful that while hate speech is protected, “fighting words,” threats, and incitements to violence are not. Hate speech can often include such elements. These forms of speech must be disavowed).
  • We support the right of private institutions to allow or prohibit certain forms of speech within the bounds of their own institution.
  • We reject the term “fake news,” even when we believe a news article may accurately be classified as such. Do not use the language of those who wish to suppress your voice. It lends them legitimacy.
  • We reject the word “lie.” “Lie” is a judgment of the intent of the speaker. Instead, say something is “false” or “not proven.” Always provide evidence to support such an assertion.
  • We hold ourselves personally to the standards of accountability and truth that we want our press to embody. We provide only demonstrable facts.
  • We admit when we do not know something. When we do not know something, we research it thoroughly and relay our research onward.
  • We demand our legislators align themselves unequivocally with a free press. We hold them accountable for any complacency.
  • We donate money and/or time to organizations that defend civil liberties.
  • We donate money and or/time to organizations that provide training for aspiring journalists or in civil disobedience tactics.
  • We recognize that certain citizens, such as racial minorities, the LGBT community, the impoverished, the disabled, children, and the elderly have barriers to free speech and participation in free press. We donate money and/or time to organizations that empower and assist these individuals to meaningfully participate in our democracy.
  • We recognize the importance of evaluating someone’s exact words. We do not dismiss the evaluation of language as “semantics,” “rhetoric,” “reading too far into things,” or, worst of all, “political correctness.”

My final suggested principle is the most difficult to confront. We have lived with our First Amendment rights for so long, we cannot easily acknowledge the following reality. We must acknowledge it now.

  • We recognize that in this turbulent time, laws may change so drastically that certain forms of just and currently legal free expression may become illegal. We proceed according to our First Amendment rights as currently established, with the understanding that we may face repercussions for such expression, including being harassed, accosted, and jailed.

I find it useless to cite the Civil Rights Movement or any variety of revolutions here. We all know what has been done by brave and successful resistance in the past and what must be done now. It is a question of whether we are brave and wise enough to take seriously the danger in which our country finds itself. This will be determined less by our capacity and more by our commitment. There is no denying that we truly are at a crossroads and, as the cliché goes, we each must decide now if we will do what is most just or what is most immediately convenient. Let us not forget that each of us bears both personal and collective responsibility for not only what has happened, but for what will happen to our nation.

“Technical” Arguments Against Moral Obligations

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In 1998, Matthew Shepard was beaten, tortured, and left to die by two strangers after one of them had pretended to be gay to gain the trust of Matthew, who was gay. That same year, James Byrd Jr. was beaten, pissed on, and chained and dragged 1.5 miles behind the truck of white supremacists. He was conscious for the majority of the dragging. Both men died.

In 2009, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (MSHCPA) was signed into law by Barack Obama.

Why mention this now?

Today, Senator Jeff Sessions is receiving a Congressional hearing to become Attorney General per the selection of Donald Trump. Senator Jeff Sessions led the opposition to the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

I’ve read Senator Sessions’ floor statement on the MSHCPA. As a former Federal Prosecutor, Sessions places a disclaimer upfront that his argument is largely “technical.” While his argument does have multiple “technical” facets (meaning constitutional, legal, enforcement-related, etc.), his disclaimer is meant to overshadow the fact that throughout his statement, he repeatedly claims that the LGBT community and racial minorities do not need special protection, and that such protections are not relevant to any federal interest. Let me repeat: he claims that such protections are not relevant to protecting a federal interest. 

Sessions makes a fair point about the MSHCPA being tagged onto an only tangentially related bill (the Department of Defense Reauthorization bill), but let’s not pretend that every senator and representative doesn’t approve of such tactics when it works in favor of their interests. So let’s move on from that point.

The Senator attempts to argue that the MSHCPA violates the 14th amendment which affords Equal Protection of Law to all citizens. His concern is apparently that protecting targeted minorities would sacrifice the protection of the rest of us. Repeat: affording special protections to targeted minorities would jeopardize the protection of the rest of us. 

Sessions also makes what I was initially inclined to believe was a fair argument: the MSHCPA excludes other protected minorities, such as women. Fair point? I then devised a quick and easy way to call the Senator’s bluff on this: to look up Senator Sessions’ vote on reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which afforded special protections to women: Senator Sessions voted no on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.

The kicker? House Republicans largely opposed VAWA because it included protections for other minorities, such as gays, immigrants, and Native Americans. In other words, VAWA did what MSHCPA failed to do, in Sessions view. He voted no on it anyway.

From my research, I find Senator Sessions to be one of the most agitating and dangerous types of politicians: those that claim their concerns and oppositions are built on constitutionality in order to disguise their ignorance of the plight of targeted minorities. His VAWA vote confirms the ludicrousness of his claims that he rejects MSCHPA because it doesn’t protect enough vulnerable people.

As a final point, I know that naming bills after specific people or events is made to evoke a visceral reaction and emotional vote. Some deem it inappropriate, and in certain respects, I agree. However, when it comes to MSHCPA, I think it was wise and powerful to name the bill after two men who were murdered because of immutable pieces of their identity. So often in lawmaking, real-life context is lost. In the MSHCPA vote, each senator or representative had to look at the name of this bill and vote with a concrete example of what hate crimes do, right in front of their faces. And perhaps due to technical issues, senators and representatives still must vote no on namesake bills and go home to face their district’s questions. I fully acknowledge that in law, technicalities often put the nail in the coffin on what seems on its face to be a solid bill.

But personally, I think that Sessions’ transparent”technical” argument simply helps him sleep at night.

What Kind of World Are We?

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I’m writing from my office right now, where I occasionally cover the reception desk while our receptionist takes her break. I usually spend this time reading articles and editorials. Often, these articles give me inspiration to write. Usually I have little trouble getting my thoughts together for a coherent and at least mildly compelling piece.

The article I just finished reading has made me angry enough to write, but simultaneously knocked me speechless, so please forgive me for any incoherence. It is about Duterte’s death squads in the Philippines, where drug addicts are being slaughtered as a matter of government policy, while Duterte stands by and giggles about his intended target of murdered addicts being in the tens-of-thousands.

“I tell you, I will triple it. ‘Pag hindi nasunod ang gusto ko, to get rid of my country (of the drug problem), you can expect 20,000 or 30,000 more (deaths),” Duterte said in Davao City after his return from an official visit to Japan.  ABS-CBN News

Compounding the outrage that article has piqued, the standard programming in my office’s lobby is CNN, and as I’m sure you all can imagine, one moment after the next is some enraging Trump story, quote, or (usually) tweet. Right now, the talking heads are discussing anti-Muslim rhetoric. I’m trying to not to listen to the details.

And earlier today, I read an article about Bana Al-abed, a seven-year-old Syrian girl whose Twitter account gave the world a view into the life of a child stranded in Aleppo. Bana’s account has been deleted and nobody knows where she is. The article called her our generation’s Anne Frank. The comments section was saturated with users insisting she is fake, or if she exists, she is controlled by the United States as a propaganda tool. Comments range from an innocent enough question about how Bana has internet access to the following maddening specimen from a user “Kilgore_Trout” at 3:55 am today:

Lovely little girl with remarkably clean clothes for a child living in rubble and without electricity. One can only imagine how her mother gets those whites so white with the colors staying so vivid.

I probably shouldn’t be tackling this post while sitting at reception, serving as the first face I see when our members come in the door. That’s because there’s tears welling behind my eyes and threatening to come pouring out. I don’t mean to sound weak, melodramatic, or easily shaken, but it’s an accumulation of factors this morning and afternoon that are leading me once again to question: “What kind of world are we?”

I’ve asked this question so many times in the past but I’m not sure I’ve ever the bewilderment as intensely in the past as I am feeling it right now.

What kind of world are we, where we consume news like Duterte’s death squads and the Syrian Civil War and simply turn the page?

What kind of world are we, where we are more intent on debunking one particular child as  a fake, instead of focusing on the fact that this girl, real or fake, represents the true stories of thousands of others in Aleppo, and millions of others in the world?

What kind of world are we, where the consequences of anti-Muslim rhetoric are even a necessary topic of discussion on the news; and moreover, where pundits go on camera and argue in its favor?

I could go on and on asking these rhetorical questions, but I won’t. It’s a constant struggle to battle the cynicism of knowing that these things happen in our world. I generally teeter on the border right in between optimism and realism. I am not deluded into believing this is Candy Land, but at the same time I reject President-Elect Trump’s dystopian portrait of our country (and planet). I believe that the world, and people, are both good and bad; dark and light – never wholly one or the other. But on days like today, when the bad reality hits you right over the head, you get dizzy and, most of all, immobilized.

I’ve come to the juncture that every writer hates: I’ve written a piece but have no conclusion. If I wrote one it would be full of crap, anyway. Thanks for reading.

In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.

Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

The Self-Consciously Intellectual Mind

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It’s a criticism I’ve heard my whole life: “You think you’re better than everyone else.” “You’re a know-it-all.”

It started before I hit middle school, and it wasn’t long before the impact became clear. Dumbing myself down. Achieving less. Talking back to teachers. Not paying attention. Not doing homework.

If I could go back in time, I would give my younger self the words to explain why I constantly talked to people about ideas and things they did not care about, or why I used ridiculous words. I want to tell her to stop being ashamed and saying, “I’m sorry,” when people conveyed that she was an annoyance. And I want to explain to everyone who criticized her that she was just trying to connect.

I still carry that complex with me. Following social interactions, I worry that I said too much, too frantically. I constantly feel the need to explain, “I’m sorry, I’m just excited about this,” or that the strange word I just used is actually a genuine part of my vocabulary. When I’m in the middle of talking and the people I’m with stop listening, it’s devastating. Then comes the self-deprecation: I was boring; I was annoying; I was unlikeable.

In the feminist vein, it’s generally accepted that I’m not alone in feeling self-conscious expressing intellectual ideas, discussing the esoteric, leading a discussion, or asserting myself in a formal or informal debate. This especially comes into play in the workplace and in politics. Women are trained to beware of seeming bossy, stiff, know-it-all, and arrogant. This manifests in a muting of their true capacity to speak and lead with force. Worse, this manifests in their avoidance of stepping up to lead at all.

Looking at our most timely example, these competing tensions have played out constantly in Hillary Clinton’s career. Last year, Jimmy Fallon joked with Clinton, “Is it possible you have too much experience to become president of the United States?” Much like all comedy, Fallon’s quip strikes the heart of a real problem that defined this election again. Hillary’s extensive resume could not overcome her “likeability” deficit. Meanwhile, Trump, who is neither experienced nor conventionally likeable, will be our next president. Hillary fell victim to the “double bind” that all smart women do at some time, if not many times, in their lives.

Women who are competent and forceful… are seen by both sexes as unlikable, unfeminine, aggressive, conniving and untrustworthy – what Heilman called “your typical constellation of ‘bitchy’ characteristics.”

Studies have found that this hypothesis sticks. In one experiment conducted by professors at Columbia and NYU, an extensive resume was distributed to survey participants. Half of the resumes indicated the applicant’s name was “Heidi.” The other half called the applicant “Howard.” The resumes were all identical.

After the survey participants read the resumes, they concluded Heidi and Howard were both competent, but described Heidi as “overly aggressive, selfish and not someone you’d want to work with.” Howard was described as “likable and a good colleague.”

The likeability dilemma may soon come into play for all “intellectuals” as a (frankly terrifying) anti-intellectual attitude becomes prevalent in our general culture and, most disconcertingly, our Executive Branch (with the impending power accorded to climate change and evolution deniers, xenophobes, and white supremacists). I implore my fellow bookworms, geeks, nerds, and brainiacs to have the courage to refuse to fall in line.

If we want a role in civic life, we will perhaps all need to learn the tedious and exhausting balancing act that is “likeability politics.” But please, please, do not abandon your books. Do not abandon your inquisitiveness. Do not abandon your debates, your writing, and your experiments. I have felt the pressure to do this my entire life but increasingly recognize that if I succumb, I am shortchanging myself, my family, and frankly anyone who may gain even just a spark of wisdom or the slightest factoid from me.

A Spoonful of Sugar Makes the Medicine Go Down

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I know I’m not the only one who has gone (or attempted to go) on a self-imposed news media blackout since the election. Personally, I think it’s a great idea. This election pretty much swallowed us all whole, and we need to be reminded that there is a world going on around us that isn’t in print.

My typical news media consumption is (was?) as follows:

  • Facebook: all… freakin’… day
  • Twitter: Less often, but still all… freakin’… day.
  • The Express: When I get to the train station in the morning to go to work, I grab a copy of the free Washington Post newspaper, the Express, and read it on the train. It’s the perfect length to take me from departure to arrival.
  • MSN.com: It’s my homepage at work and I can’t help but read a few pieces from the headlines.
  • Apple News: I intermittently skim the headlines on my iPhone and if something is particularly interesting/breaking I read the article.
  • Comments sections on items 1 and 3 (danger! toxic! turn back!)

On item number 1, I’ll openly confess I failed miserably. For the rest, I started by beginning to refuse my daily Express. This in itself was difficult, because the workers who hand out the Express seem so excited to hand you your paper in the morning. Turning it down felt like a personal affront to them (though it was a bit easier when the worker said, “It’s not Hump Day; it’s Trump Day! Get your Express!”). From there on, I’d say I did pretty well avoiding all the other outlets.

But today, exactly one week from the election, I’ve terminated my media blackout, completely without any preexisting intent to do so. It ended exactly where it had started: the Express. This morning, I came down the stairs at the station and the worker said, “Good morning, young lady!” and handed me the paper. I could see a little tuft of Trump’s hair printed on the cover, so I knew immediately that receiving this particular edition completely quashed my intentions of “phasing” myself back in. It was like intending only to stick your feet in the shallow end at the pool party, when some big bully comes along and pushes you right into the deep end with your clothes still on.

I kept walking toward the train, trying to decide whether I’d toss (recycle!) the paper or read it. This was a particularly difficult decision, given the cover was a picture of Trump, Stephen Bannon, and the headline “Trump’s alt-right right-hand man.”

I read the paper. And there were things I already knew in there that made me angry. There were things I didn’t already know in there that made me angry. But there were also things I didn’t know in there that made me happy:

  • The three year project to rebuild the Capitol’s dome is finally complete. Bonus: during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was put under pressure to delay the construction until the end of the war, but he insisted construction proceed, in order to display faith in the Union.
  • High school students in Maryland organized their own protests and took to the streets and returned to class after. D.C. is planning the same for today. Wow! These are teenagers!
  • A bookstore in Wyoming requires customers to put away their laptops, phones, and tablets in the store, with a sign in the store saying, “Take a break! Live like it’s 1993, emails can wait.”
  • Oreo has come out with a chocolate bar!
  • Ed Sheeran and his mom have donated a bunch of his outfits and memorabilia to benefit East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices in the U.K.

To some, items 3 through 5 might seem trivial – “well that’s nice, but so what?” But what I noticed in reading this paper is that truly balancing my reading is what made the bad news (i.e.: Stephen Bannon) bearable. And being able to bear the bad news means that I was able to avoid being completely consumed by it.

I think one of the reasons I shunned the news after the election is because I was really afraid of being regularly consumed by the fear and grief that I felt on election night, and frankly the entire fiasco of the “campaign” leading up to it. But placing some weight on the good news, and yes, even the fluff news, helps us to digest the bad and troubling news. And once you’ve digested the bad news, you can move forward to decide how you will react to it, and what action, if any, you will take.

Am I okay with Stephen Bannon exerting influence at the White House? Absolutely not. Does being happy about the Oreo chocolate bar make my disgust for him any less valid? Absolutely not. Does it impair my capacity to react to what I see as bad governance/a storm up ahead? Absolutely not! In fact, bringing Bannon back to the forefront of my consciousness early in the morning was probably a good thing, as unpleasant as it may have been.

So my message today is balance. Balance your consumption of media. Balance your disgust with your joy. Balance your pauses and your action.

And don’t be afraid to read the paper.

“If you don’t use it, you lose it.”

More Than the Sum of Your Parts

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This morning, a former classmate of mine from high school posted this article on Facebook: Dear Liberals, Here’s The Letter You Can Give To Your Daughters. This old classmate supported Trump in the election and has expressed frustration with the derogatory labeling of Trump voters as racists, sexists, xenophobes, etc. She is among one of the bright, friendly, and ordinary people I know who voted for Trump. I would never call her, or most of the other Trump voters I personally know racist, sexist, or xenophobic (although, some of them definitely are, but let’s face it; in certain ways we are all racist, sexist, and xenophobic). So seeing this article, I was eager to see if it would lend some of the insight that I’ve been looking for. It did not provide that vital insight into why women vote for Trump that I was looking for, but demonstrated once again that whether Right or Left, no side “gets” the other.

The article of course attacks Hillary as a liar, self-interested, etc.; it predictably attacks liberal policies as raising taxes and getting cuddly with terrorists. I’ve grown to accept those characterizations will not go away. But what really gets under my skin, like a god damn splinter right under the fingernail, is the following passage:

Hillary and her slobbering feminist followers thought you’d only vote on certain issues and certain issues alone. They wanted to believe that you only care about abortion, access to birth control, parental leave and the mythical gender wage gap. They think they’re empowering you, but they’re not. They’re demeaning you. They’re assuming that you– a fully capable and competent citizen who happens to have a vagina– only care about issues related to your reproductive organs. That’s demeaning to you. They assume you don’t care about policies unrelated to your gender. What about the unemployment rate? Taxes? The national debt? National security? Fixing the VA? Immigration reform? Welfare reform? Regulatory reform? They automatically assume that you couldn’t care less about those issues.

If I wasn’t in the middle of a chorus rehearsal when I read it, I would have screamed, “No, no, NO!”

Not only do I resent being called a slobbering feminist (although I don’t take myself so seriously that I can’t admit to slobbering in my sleep), but I also am deeply troubled that the feminist movement is reduced to a small itinerary of issues (stereotypically revolving around sex and reproduction), not only by men, but by women too.

I want to take this out of the context of the presidential race just a moment, because I want my points to be made, unattached to Hillary Clinton and the gender dynamics of this race. To me, it has always been evident that feminism (as a philosophy) is the only logical road for me to be on. Why wouldn’t I want women to be empowered to chase their dreams and given the same tools and freedom men are to pursue them? Feminism as a political movement is a bit trickier because of how exclusionary of minorities and LGBT women it has been. But I still have felt an intimate connection with feminism, so long as it continues to evolve toward greater inclusion and intersectionality.

But what I have never, ever felt as a member of the feminist movement is reduced to my reproductive organs. In fact, it is because I am so much more than a vessel for reproduction that I feel a commitment toward advancing “the women’s agenda” (as if the “women’s agenda” is uniquely beneficial to women alone). Advocating for reproductive rights is a huge part of my personal agenda. Granted. But it is precisely because I think women are so bright, diverse, and such valuable civic participants with wildly untapped potential that I am a feminist.

Now, deciding which candidate to support (once Bernie was out) was easy for me, because in terms of policy, I am staunchly on the Left to begin with. That’s not my gender; that’s just who I am and what I think government’s role should be. But the thing that’s really heartbreaking to me about this article (or infuriating, depending on what you think the intentions of the author are) is that the writer wants her readers to believe that feminists and liberals think women only care about issues related to their gender. This is simply not so.

It is because I believe my fellow women have just as much capacity to think about and form opinions on these issues as men that I proudly call myself a feminist. Though our participation in political life is strengthening, women are still vastly underrepresented in political leadership. Women account for approximately 50% of the population, yet we occupy only 19.4% of seats in Congress and 24.4% of state legislatures. The figures are even more disappointing for women of color, occupying only 6% and 5.4% of seats in Congress and state legislatures, respectively.

Reproductive rights, the gender wage gap (which is not mythical), birth control, and parental leave aren’t on the feminist agenda just because they affect women. They get a lot of attention on the feminist agenda because our legislatures, primarily composed of males, are voting on these matters that disproportionately affect women, without sufficient direct participation from women. And it further seems that many legislators tend to take stances on these matters that are to the detriment of women.

So as a feminist, do I think these matters should take precedence above all other policy considerations? Of course not. We all come from different places and are colored by different experiences that form our priorities. And perhaps your prioritization of matters will dictate that you vote for candidates on the Right. I accept that even though I may not always understand it. But I will not accept the accusation that I, and other feminists, boil a woman down to nothing more than a container for her womb. It is precisely because we know that every woman is so much more than this that we take the name “Feminist” at all.

I’m angry. There, I said it.

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Accepting a Trump presidency is “painful,” in the words of Hillary Clinton.

At first, I treated the pain as the kind I experienced when I fell into a hole at my condo complex and twisted my ankle. I’d previously noticed the hole, but didn’t really respect the fact that it could hurt someone until I was feeling the pain. “Wow, I totally did not see that coming!” was the lie I told myself. And then I got angry.

I was angry that someone didn’t properly maintain the pavement and fill in the hole. Some unknown, invisible someone.

But now I realize how futile and frankly, childish it is to treat this injury (and Trump’s victory) as one I had no possible way to see coming. I am no longer angry at someone else for neglecting the pavement and leaving a hole there for me to trip in. I am angry that I did not personally approach a maintenance authority and point out that hole. And if the maintenance man didn’t listen to me, I should have organized my community to demand action together until what we needed was provided.

I not only failed myself by neglecting to do this, but I failed my community, because that hole is still there to hurt other people who truly don’t see it. And once an ankle is broken, the person to whom it belongs will always be changed even if the ankle ends up healing just fine despite fears of future difficulties posed by the injury. In parallel, Trump may not end up inflicting legal harm upon all the populations he has threatened and disparaged. But the damage created by his victory and all the fear attached to it will forever change each affected person. Even if they end up being okay, they’ll never be the same.

We should have seen it coming. We should have done something. If right now you’re saying, “But I did do something,” my simple response is that, “But clearly you — we — did not do enough.”

I am angry because I did not appreciate or respect my own agency. Departing from the metaphor of the hole in the pavement, I mistakenly believed it was enough to cast my ballot on November 8th and move along. I believed I would go home to watch my vote and others like it define this election. When that outcome did not materialize, I was in shock. I was speechless beyond the cardinal phrase I could not help but repeat that night: “Oh my God.” I woke up the next morning and it was then that I truly realized there was nothing I could do. And in retrospect, had I appreciated and respected my own agency, there were things I could and should have done. I have no excuse, as much as I wish I did.

Last night, I applied to join my county’s Democratic Committee and am waiting for word on my application. Because what I should have been doing this past year or two was participating and organizing. I should have taken every Facebook post and share I made and put my “likes” where my mouth is. How could I have been so lazy? How could I have been so careless? How could I have slapped right in the face every bright and strong female mentor, friend of color, and gay or transgender classmate I’ve ever known by not acting as I knew I could?

I am obligated to respect my own agency to compensate for the fact that other vulnerable citizens feel (perhaps correctly) that they have diminished agency, or none at all. I don’t have much money, and frankly as someone who is chronically ill, I don’t have very much energy. But what I do have a lot of is time to be better spent. And although Lilly Allen truthfully sings, “It’s hard out there for a bitch,” I know that the challenges of being a woman in a man’s world are things I have already faced from the cradle to this very minute.

I’m angry like a bullet is, having been fired from its safe and familiar magazine — impossible to push back through the barrel; put in motion toward its long-anticipated trajectory by one final defining moment. A last straw. The pull of the trigger.

But back to the present. As it stands right now, I may just be a BB or rubber bullet. But boy, can I sting.