I’m Back! And I have a lot of thoughts

So, it’s been a while.

Almost a year, in fact. And what a miserable, roller coaster of a year it has been.

I know I haven’t been posting. I was busy with work, and emotionally exhausted from watching what was happening in the news, and starting graduate school. I haven’t been writing, but rest assured, readers, I haven’t stopped being my feminist self. I just needed a very prolonged break from blogging.

But I can’t just sit here anymore. I’m tired, yes, but I’m tired in that way that being angry for a year makes you tired. I’m tired in that way that watching people mistreat others in the name of consolidating power makes you tired. I’m tired in that way that losing friends and cutting toxic people from your life makes you tired. I know a lot of us are tired. But underneath that, I’m still angry. I’m livid. And surprisingly, I’m proud.

A few weeks ago, I watched the Democrats win 16  seats back in the Virginia House of Delegates. If you didn’t follow this story, you missed out. The first state-level transgender lawmaker, Danica Roem, beat a long-time incumbent who had tried to introduce bathroom bill legislation; multiple women, including women of color, took seats previously held by white men. At the start of election day, the Democrats had held 34 of the seats in the Virginia House of Delegates. By the end of the day, they were posed to hold either 50 or 51. They’re still recounting election results.

That wasn’t the only thing that gave me hope on election night. Democrats turned out in surprisingly high numbers for an off-year election. Seats were flipped across the country. People we were afraid would let their anger fizzle out didn’t. They were out there, voting, and there could be real repercussions. In my hometown on Long Island, a Democratic woman won the executive position for the Town of Hempstead for the first time.

Meanwhile, the moment of reckoning has arrived finally for men in our society who harass, assault, and abuse women. Left and right, it seems, women are coming forward, and powerful men are being investigated, and fired. Matt Lauer was dismissed by NBC. Louis C.K.’s movie was pulled before its premier. An astonishing 83 women have come forward with allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Roy Moore might lose the Senate race in Alabama. Oh how the mighty are falling. Amber Tamblyn, in an Op-Ed for the New York Times, writes that this is an opportunity for seismic cultural change regarding how men relate to women; there have to be consequences, even for men we would otherwise like. It’s too early to talk about redemption, and in any case, redemption has to be earned. We’ve been waiting too long to hear these issues talked about, to see women (and men) be able to step into the light and say enough is enough! I will no longer stand to be treated like an object, like a plaything, like anything less than an equal.

But there is more than enough bad news to go around, of course. Just look at the tax bills passed in the House and Senate, which stand poised to balloon the national debt, cause automatic spending cuts to social services including Medicare and Medicaid, sneakily try to establish fetuses as people, repeal the individual mandate from the ACA, potentially bankrupt small businesses by eliminating the tax deductibility of small business expenses, and make grad school significantly less affordable by taxing tuition waivers. (As a grad student, I can tell you, this will increase students’ tax liability by up to 600%, but I mean sure, they want us to be competitive with China, right?) Honestly, open the New York Times or Washington Post and you’ll find something to be upset about on any given day. This week, I tried to call my Republican senators (I live in Texas) and their phones had been disconnected. Indeed.

So what do we do?

We keep going. We keep fighting. Do this right now: pick 3-4 issues that you really really care about, and write them down. And keep an eye on what’s happening to them. Keep talking about them with people. Maybe it’s healthcare access. Maybe it’s reproductive justice. Maybe it’s education. Maybe it’s this tax bill. Maybe it’s net neutrality, or our relations with NATO, or the national debt, or threats to social services, or intimate partner violence. Pick a couple of issues and watch them like a hawk. Make sure other people get why they’re important. Encourage them to talk to people about issues and why they’re important as well. We can’t afford to forget what’s at stake.

Find a campaign to volunteer with (check out swingleft.org to identify nearby House races that need attention). Donate to political campaigns or political organizations. Candidates who worked with EMILY’s List and/or EMERGE were among the most successful in flipping seats in 2017–let’s help those organizations do what they are obviously really good at, and help get progressive candidates elected in 2018. Volunteer to register voters in 2018; canvas in your neighborhood or nearby areas; make phone calls. Imagine what we could do if the House changed hands, or the Senate.

Speaking of the Senate, Beto O’Rourke is poised to put up a heck of a fight in Texas. Keep an eye on states like Texas and Arizona, where seats have some chance of being flipped. See if you can make calls or support organizers from afar if you don’t live in those states. If you DO live in those states, get involved! Jeff Flake is leaving the Senate so that seat is wide open, Beto O’Rourke is challenging Ted Cruz, and Bob Corker is retiring leaving a seat open in Tennessee.

And keep taking care of yourself. Look, this is exhausting, and draining, and miserable. Too many people have had to put in too much emotional labor explaining why sexual harassment is a real problem, or have been overwhelmed by sexual violence being constantly in the news. Living in a country with leaders who care more about money than people is disheartening and awful. Make sure you’re eating, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep. Spend time with your friends. Unplug from the internet for a bit. Take a long vacation from blogging, like I did. Do what you have to do so that you can take on the things that matter to you.

 

 

 

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~ by Randi Saunders on December 2, 2017.

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