I have been trying to think of something I could say that might help, knowing how absolutely devastated you must be feeling today. I don’t know if I have the words yet, but I did not want the day to end without saying something.
The part of me that has fought so long for women’s rights is a bitter little troll right now. That troll feels, once again, that nothing matters when stacked up against misogyny. It doesn’t matter that one candidate was smarter, more qualified, more capable. It doesn’t matter that her missteps, when compared to his, were minor. It doesn’t matter that the other candidate is a sexist, a racist, and a fascist. In the end, all that mattered was that she was a know-it-all woman. She was loathed for that — and she had to be put in her place.
I know, as so many will say today, that her loss was about more than sexism. But I believe this: If she had been a man, with the exact same baggage, she would have been elected in a landslide. And I can only think of one reason for that.
So, the bitter little troll is unhappy and resentful.
That is what being a feminist means today for so many of us, in the immediate aftermath of this disaster. We are overwhelmed with disappointment and fear.
But, I know this from being an old feminist, and from having to coexist, off and on for a long time, with that bitter little troll. You have to move forward. That’s all there is.
And when there are setbacks — and there will be many to come, I’m sure — you have to let the troll have its say for a bit, then try to keep going.
I have no idea what that means for you. Maybe it means just doing what you are doing: inspiring and educating your students. Maybe it means supporting women candidates for lower offices. Maybe it means attending rallies (I see many of them in the future), working for a good cause.
In the short run, it means putting one foot in front of the other and carrying on, not letting hurt slow you down. It will be hard in the beginning, especially having to listen to Trump supporters. It’s hard to be gracious in the face of such awful circumstances. But it will get easier. I know that from experience too. Your life will reassert itself, and the troll will gradually let go of your lungs, and your gut, and your heart.
These next few years will not be fun. I don’t have a game plan yet for myself in terms of how to deal with the awful flood that is coming. But I am not going to drown in it, and neither are you. I had to tread water during the Nixon years and the Reagan years — it can be done.
But I know how heartbreaking it is those first few days and weeks. I just wanted you to know that it will get better. You young women are the future. In the end, there will be no holding you back. Absorb the blow, and know that your time will come. That’s what we older women are counting on.