Top Quotes: “Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger” — Rebecca Traister

Introduction

“We aren’t taught that Rosa Parks, the perfectly demure woman whose refusal to give up her seat kicked off the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955, was a fervent antirape activist who’d once told a would-be attacker that she’d rather die than be raped by him and who, at 10, threatened by a white boy, picked up a piece of brick and drew it back to strike him if he approached. ‘I was angry,’ she’d later say of that youthful act of resistance. ‘He went his way without further comment.’”

“It’s about women who found themselves at the Women’s March holding signs, and experienced a kind of awakening there — 1/3 of those women had never been a political protest before — and wondered for the first time how on earth they’d been lulled to sleep in the first place.”

“I didn’t know, then, about what Rosa Parks had reportedly told her terrified grandmother after explaining why she’d raised that brick at the boy who’d been threatening her: ‘I’d rather be lynched than live to be mistreated and not be allowed to say, ‘I don’t like it.’’”

“For all the care we take to bottle it up, rage can be a powerful tonic. It’s a communicative tool, which speakers and writers and activists not only find freeing, but which acts as a balm to listeners and readers struggling with their won subsumed vexations.

We must come to recognize — those of us who feel anger, who have in our lives taken pains to disguise it, who worry about its ill effects, who rear back from it and try to tamp it down in ourselves for fear that letting it out will hurt our goals — that anger is often an exuberant expression. It’s the force that injects energy, intensity, and urgency into battles that must be intense and urgent if they’re to be won. More broadly, we must come to recognize our own rage as valid, as rational, and not as what we’re told it is: ugly, hysterical, marginal, laughable.”

Resistance

“I remember the first time I got angry. I was about 10. We were at McDonald’s with our family friends, who were black. I’m really light-skinned, my mom has light skin, so a lot of people don’t always recognize that we’re Mexicans. But our friends were very dark-skinned. The woman who was at the counter — who in retrospect was almost certainly herself a Mexican immigrant — let us play in the ball pit but didn’t let our friends play. My mom fucking flipped her shit. She screamed like a banshee at this woman in the McDonald’s. My mom said, ‘I will never come back. I will tell all my friends never to come here. Give me the number of your manager; is there a regional manager? I’m going to call corporate HQ.’ She just blew a gasket. Then she took us all out for ice cream and we all got gigantic sundaes that we had no business eating. I remember watching her and thinking: She’s doing the right thing.” — Jessica Morales

“One LA Democratic rep saw something else in the riots: ‘There are those who would like for me…to tell people to go inside, to be peaceful, that they have to accept the verdict. I accept the responsibility of asking people not to endanger their lives. I’m not asking people not to be angry,’ said first-term congresswoman Maxine Waters, who represented a big part of the South Central neighborhood where much of the unrest was unfolding. ‘I’m angry and I have a right to that anger and the people out there have a right to that anger.’

Waters spent days tending to her constituents, bringing food, water, and diapers to Angelenos living without gas or electricity; she also pushed to charge the police officers civilly, and objected to Mayor Tom Bradley’s use of the word ‘riot’ to describe events. Instead, she saw the politically rational frame for the resentments being expressed, calling it ‘an insurrection.’

Eventually, LA Police Chief Daryl Gates was fired, and 2 of the police officers were convicted for violating Rodney King’s civil rights.”

“Authentic expressions of resistance — marches, hunger strikes, demonstrations, sit-ins — had been useful for getting attention, banging down doors, forcing women’s way in. But the public antics and outpourings of vivid fury at an unequal system that had been useful in eras when women were so far from the inside would work against those who’d gotten inside, making them look and sound like outsiders once more.”

My mother, when she was about to deliver me in El Paso, needed a C-section and they wouldn’t admit her because she was black. It was a Catholic hospital. My grandmother, who was half Irish — because my great-grandmother, who was a domestic worker, had been raped by her white employer — looked white, so she had to convince people in the admitting office that my mother was her daughter. They finally let her in and they left my mother on a gurney in the hall, unattended, and she was delirious. She needed a C-section. Finally a doctor noticed her, drove her into the OR, and it was too late for a C-section. She almost died; they had to pull me out using forceps and I barely made it. She almost didn’t live and I almost didn’t get here. So you think I’m not mad? Please. I don’t like talking about this stuff a lot. But I guess anger has been just a part of my life since the day I was born. It’s part of what’s motivated me to deal with racism, sexism, lack of access to healthcare for women — for my whole life — that’s why I fight.” — Congresswoman Barbara Lee

“When Lee was a high school student in San Fernando, she wanted to be a cheerleader, but the school had never had a black cheerleader, in part because of the way the selection process was conducted, privately. ‘I was mad,’ recalled Lee, ‘because I knew all these white girls had had the opportunity to be cheerleaders, and I knew I couldn’t. So I went to the NAACP out of anger and asked them if they could help me and they said yeah.’ Lee and her classmates staged protests to change the rules, ensuring that girls could try out in front of the student body. Lee became the first black cheerleader at San Fernando High, and was soon joined on the squad by an Asian American student. ‘That was anger,’ she said. ‘I was really angry. I voiced my anger. But I was strategic, and I got what I wanted, not just for me but for everybody else, for all these girls of color who wanted to be cheerleaders.’

In her early 20s, Lee was a student at Mills College; she was by then a single mother of 2 sons, on welfare and Medicaid. ‘I was angry at the system of oppression and racism because I saw it, I lived it every day, and who wouldn’t be angry? I was being dissed by social workers and jerked around by guys and all that stuff.’ She became head of the campus Black Student Union, and started doing community work with the Black Panther Party.”

“Psychology professor Lisa Feldman Barrett has described in the NY Times a study in which her research showed people photos of men and women making facial expressions. They found that their subjects were more likely to assume that whatever was causing a woman’s emotion was something internal, whereas whatever was provoking a man’s response was something external, or as she put it, ‘She’s a bitch, but he’s just having a bad day.’

“Willard’s more radical peer in the temperance movement, Carrie Nation, would cite God as working through her, not only to rage against the evils of alcohol, but also to physically destroy drinking establishments. As Nation would later recall, she was visited one day in 1900 ‘by a voice which seemed to me speaking in my heart, these words, ‘GO TO KIOWA,’ and my hands were lifted and thrown down.’ The interpretation of this message from the divine, Nation felt, ‘was very plain, it was this: ‘take something in your hands and throw it at these places in Kiowa [Kansas] and smash them.’ It was plainly God’s direction, Nation maintained, that she gather up large rocks and use them to destroy saloons in KS, until her husband joked to her that she should use hatchets instead, which she described as ‘the most sensible thing you’ve said since I married you.’ They divorced the next year. Nation, who took the hatchet suggestion to heart, and became famous for chopping up bars all over the west, would go on to describe herself as ‘a bulldog running along at the feet of Jesus, barking at what He doesn’t like.’”

“In 1980, Patty Murray was a stay-at-home mom of 2 who became enraged after her state cut preschool funding. She put her kids in the car and drove to the state capitol to register her fury. ‘I was going around the hall and finding out who I could talk to,’ Murray recalled, ‘and one state legislator said, ‘That’s a nice story, but you’re a mom in tennis shoes.’ Murray, further enflamed, went home and called the other moms in tennis shoes. ‘And they called the moms they knew — all were mad — and we were back at the state legislature.’ The women staged an uprising, ultimately succeeding in having the education cuts reversed, and Murray embarked on a career in electoral politics, further motivated by her fury over the treatment of Anita Hill in 1991 to run for the Senate in 1992. She was among the historic group of four women to win seats that year; her campaign’s tag line was ‘Just a mom in tennis shoes.’

“Mamie Till recalled looking at the funeral director and saying ‘Oh yes, we’re gonna open the casket.’ When he looked back and asked if he should try to fix Emmett’s features, she replied, ‘No, let the people see what I’ve seen.’

The people saw. 50,000+ of them saw Emmett’s body — identifiable only because of a ring he wore — in person. They saw because Mamie Till, grieving the brutal murder of her child, insisted on having an open-casket funeral to which the public was invited. They saw because Mamie Till wanted the photos of his bloated, mutilated face to be published nationally in Jet magazine.

Mamie Till is credited as a transformative figure, but is most often pictured as a grieving mother being held up at her son’s coffin, weeping at his gravesite, supported and barely able to stand, her mouth open not in fury but in keening loss. What we’ve never trained to consider is that alongside her sorrow and suffering was a burning rage. Lamentation and sadness don’t drive a woman to fight for her son’s body, to vow to smash open his casket, to commit the crimes done to his body and face to eternal memory, to make damn sure that the world has to look at the same image of racist brutality that has been visited on your family and your life.”

Parks was a lifelong fighter against sexual and racial violence, a defender of black men wrongly accused of sexual misconduct by white women, and an elected NAACP secretary who investigated the rape claims of black women against white men.”

The Psychology of Anger

“June Jordan speculated that ‘one of the reasons why you see such an affliction of drugs on black communities and low-income communities throughout the US today is because rage has lost its respectability since the 60s. The thing you had in the civil rights revolution was an absolute upfront embrace of rage…when you don’t rage against the evils and the enemies against you what you do is you turn in against yourself and you begin to despair and give up…and that leads to this kind of plague proportion of drugs.’

Others, from Freud to Steinem have warned that anger turned inward leads to depression, perhaps making it no coincidence that one of the most common ways for women to express their anger is through tears.”

“A 2000 review of studies compiled by Ann Kring found that while men and women self-report instances of anger at similar rates, women report feeling more shame about them. Kring also found men more likely to express anger through physical or verbal assault, while women, in Jamison’s words, ‘are more likely to cry when they get angry, as if their bodies are forcibly returning them to the appearance of the emotion — sadness — with which they’re most commonly associated.”

Humor can be such a good way to hide anger at racist, sexist degradation and to challenge white male authority sideways — without risking as much direct blowback — that it perhaps shouldn’t be a surprise that Tina Fey wrote jokes about Weinstein’s sexual predation — lines about being pinned under Weinstein and turning down sex with him — that aired on 30 Rock in 2012, years before his behavior could be reported straight.”

“It turns out that the women immersed in the legislative hell of the Trump administration might’ve been turning to obscenities as an analgesic. Psychologist Richard Stephens told the NY Times of a study he’d done, in which he’d asked subjects to submerge their hands in ice water for as long as they could, repeating a word that was either a profanity or a neutral term. Those who swore were able to keep their hands in the ice water for 50% longer and reported that the pain had felt less intense. Cursing, the Times summed up, can ‘offer catharsis…[and] might help you tolerate the pain better.’”

“There’s perhaps no better example of undisguised anger working as a rhetorical super-power than Flo Kennedy. Kennedy’s life was a study in unapologetic and furious resistance to injustice. As a young woman in Kansas City, she’d participated in a boycott of a nearby Coca-Cola company that didn’t hire black truck drivers. When she was denied entry to Columbia law school — not because she was black but because she was a woman, administrators told her — she threatened a discrimination suit and was admitted, as one of eight women, and the only black person, in her class. As a lawyer, she represented Black Panther Party members on charges of conspiracy to commit bombings, sued the Catholic Church, and in 1969 organized feminist legal objection to NY’s abortion ban, which was overturned in 1970. In 1973, when Harvard students were agitating to get the gender ratio at the school to 50–50, Kennedy waded in, calling Harvard Yard ‘the asshole of the world’ and orchestrating a legendary ‘pee-in’ protest there, in response to the school’s paucity of women’s bathrooms.”

“The exuberance of Kennedy’s rage was contagious. Here was a model of righteous female fury that people wanted to be near. As Kennedy wrote, ‘I’m just a loudmouthed, middle-aged colored lady with a fused spine and three feet of intestines missing, and a lot of people think I’m crazy. Maybe you do too, but I never stop to wonder why I’m not like other people. The mystery to me is why more people aren’t like me.’”

Anger and Power

“59% of never-married white women voted for Clinton, compared to the almost reverse majority of married white women, 57%, who voted for Trump. 60% of white widows voted for Trump; 56% of white women who were separated from their husbands voted for Trump; and 49% of white divorced women voted for him. In other words, the study concluded, ‘The more distant white women are ‘from the benefits of and investments in traditional heterosexual marriage, the less likely they are to support Republican presidential candidates,’ i.e. candidates of the party more likely to support traditional white heteropatriarchy.”

“For several months, in the late summer and early fall of 1789, after the storming of the Bastille and the food shortages that had come in its wake, some of the men agitating for political change in France had spoken of staging a protest at the royal palace at Versailles. There had been talk of a mass demonstration of starving Parisians outside the opulent home of King Louis XVI and his family; it hadn’t yet come to fruition.

But on the morning of October 5, a Parisian woman, driven to a seething fury by the scarcity and high price of bread at the city’s markets, began to bang a marching drum. Other women quickly joined her and began to walk through the Paris streets. As the crowd of women grew, some of them brought along their knives; some forced a church to begin toiling its bells to draw attention to their growing protest. They gathered around the Hotel de Ville, city hall, demanding both food and weapons.

From there, the mob, by then reaching perhaps 10,000, headed to Versailles, dragging cannons they’d seized. After an overnight standoff, the crowd would grow to 50,000+ and return to Paris the next afternoon, the king and his family with them.”

“In the weeks before the 2000 election, I’d been working on my first deeply reported story, about a reimagining of Othello that Miramax had been refusing to release, perhaps out of deference to the cringy clean-media message of the Gore campaign, which Weinstein was publicly supporting; already there was talk of Weinstein’s ambitions in Democratic politics.

Since Weinstein had failed to respond to my calls for my comment, I’d been sent by my editor, on Election Eve 2000, to cover a book party he was hosting, along with a more senior male colleague whom I was dating. I asked Weinstein to comment for my story; he didn’t like my question. There was an altercation; he began shouting at me, pushing me hard with his finger against my shoulder; he called me a ‘cunt’ and a ‘bitch’ and declared that he was glad he was the ‘fucking sheriff of this fucking lawless piece-of-shit town.’ When my colleague intervened, first trying to calm Weinstein and then trying to extract an apology from him, Weinstein went nuclear, pushing my colleague down a set of steps, knocking him over with such force that his tape recorder hit a female party guest in the head, knocking her out. Then, screaming to the crowd about how my colleague had ‘hit a woman,’ Weinstein had dragged him onto Sixth Ave and put him in a headlock.

Such was the power of Weinstein in 2000 — when you’re a star, you can do anything — that despite the dozens of camera flashes that had gone off on that sidewalk that night, capturing the sight of a famous and physically gargantuan film exec trying to pound in the head of a young reporter, I never once saw a photo. None were published. Harvey was famous for having the power to spin — to suppress — anything.

The next day, Election Day, the NY Post reported on the event and cast it as ‘a couple of pushy reporters’ who’d ‘pushed [Weinstein] to the breaking point.’ The Times reported that Harvey and my colleague had ‘had words’ and that I had started the whole thing by ‘question[ing] Mr. Weinstein about an article that had nothing to do with…the party.’ Weinstein had ‘realized it really wasn’t appropriate and was upset.’

Here it was: power at work. Weinstein’s physical aggression, the act of beating up a journalist, transformed into an exchange of ‘words,’ while the actual words in question — my questions of a powerful man, questions lodged as part of my job, my work as a reporter — were described in the newspaper of record as ‘inappropriate’ and ‘upsetting.’ Though he’d done the physical pushing, we — the less powerful human beings he’d pushed — could be comfortably described in the press he controlled as ‘pushy.’

“Molested as a child, beaten by her first husband, Andrea Dworkin worked briefly as a sex worker in the Netherlands before coming to feminism after having been active in other social movements including the struggles against the Vietnam War and S. African apartheid. As a feminist activist, she and radical feminist lawyer Catharine MacKinnon — a kind of 20th-century answer to Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, with Dworkin as the scribe and MacKinnon as the action-oriented doer — stepped on a 1st Amendment third rail by proposing legislation to ban porn.

Dworkin and MacKinnon weren’t alone in their fight against the porn industry; Steinem, Lorde, and others also argued for setting limits and exposing its misogynistic abuses. But Dworkin and MacKinnon went furthest, in 1983 writing a series of local ordinances, known as the antiporn civil rights ordinances, which sought to ban porn by treating it as a violation of women’s civil rights. Their mission, which launched first in Minneapolis, and was later taken up, with varying degrees of success and failure, in Indianapolis, Cambridge, and Bellingham, set off an internal battle within feminism — again an echo of Stanton and Anthony — between self-described ‘prosex feminists’ and the antiporn (though as they might clarify, not antisex) work done by Dworkin and MacKinnon. The prosex feminists won, conclusively.”

“‘Why do women think they have to support these guys?’ Pat Schroeder wondered to me, recalling her fury at former Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart, whose campaign she managed, until it was derailed when he was caught cheating on his wife and lying about it. ‘I couldn’t have gotten out of the Hart campaign fast enough,’ she said, but Hart’s wife stayed with him. And the worst part, she said, was that both Hart and his wife got angry at her for not sticking by him. ‘So I guess I was supposed to suck it up and come out and defend him,’ said Schroeder. ‘But I just can’t believe that men are that weak. I’m really sorry, but if men are that weak and we have to defend them all the time, then why do they have all the power?’”

Sexual Harassment

The term ‘sexual harassment’ had been used for the first time in public in 1975 by feminist Lin Farley, when she testified at a hearing on women in the workplace before the NYC Commission on Human Rights.

Farley, who was teaching a class on women and work at Cornell, had helped to coin the term after hearing about Carmita Wood. Wood was an admin assistant at the nuclear studies lab at Cornell, the first woman to have held that job. After years of dealing with a boss who rubbed up against her, groped her, kissed her against her will, appeared to stimulate himself in front of her, and publicly put his hands under her shirt at a company Christmas party, and after having been denied transfer to another department, Wood resigned her job. When she applied for unemployment benefits, the NY State Department of Labor rejected her claim; she appealed the decision and presented testimony, which was corroborated by two of her former coworkers, but her claim was again rejected.

Unsure of where else to turn, Wood had approached the office of the human affairs program at Cornell, where she encountered Farley and a group of other women. Compelled by her case, they held meetings to come up with a word that described the degrading, diminishing professional treatment Wood had endured, treatment that was all too common, yet so integrated into the life of women in the professional sphere that no descriptor had ever before been necessary. ‘It was something that we all talked about but because we didn’t have a name,’ Farley has said, ‘we didn’t know we were all talking about the same thing.’ Farley and her colleagues searched for something all-encompassing and eventually settled on ‘sexual harassment.’

In April 1975, Wood published an op-ed in which she wrote, ‘Women must be judged on their ability to perform their jobs — not on whether we maintain a sexual rapport with our bosses.’ Along with the women from Cornell’s human affairs program, and lawyer Eleanor Norton, then the chair on the NYC Commission on Human Rights, Wood formed a group called Working Women United, and they sent out a letter to hundreds of lawyers. It crossed the desk of Catharine MacKinnon, who then began what would become a multiyear legal battle to assert that sexual harassment violates prohibitions against professional discrimination, which had been laid out in the Civil Rights Act with regard to race.

In 1977, an appeals court upheld decisions defining sexual harassment as sex discrimination, barred by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In 1979, as harassment cases worked their way up through the American legal system, MacKinnon argued that there was a link between sexual harassment and professional discrimination, citing among other things the siloing of women into lower-paying professions that demand their sexualization. ‘Sexual harassment perpetuates the interlocked structure by which women have been kept sexually in thrall to men and at the bottom of the labor market,’ MacKinnon wrote. ‘Two forces of American society converge: men’s control over women’s sexuality and capital’s control over employees’ work lives.’

In 1986, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mechelle Vinson, an assistant bank manager who described being assaulted and raped by her boss in the bank’s vaults and basements 40+ times. Justice Rehnquist wrote in the unanimous decision, ‘Without question, when a supervisor sexually harasses a subordinate because of the subordinate’s sex, the supervisor discriminates on the basis of sex.’ In other words, sexual harassment might entail behaviors that on their own would be criminal — assault or rape — but the legal definition of its harm is about the systemic disadvantaging of a gender in the public and professional sphere.”

“#metoo and its French sister #balancetonporc (expose your pig).”

Politics

“Suffragists made pragmatic inroads. Polish-born Jewish suffragist and abolitionist Ernestine Rose, angry that her inheritance had been forfeited when she refused to marry the man her father had bethrothed her to against her will, dedicated herself in part to a legal campaign to reform women’s property laws in the US. She lobbied through the 1850s alongside Stanton and Anthony for a set of reforms called married women’s property acts, which would eventually pass in NY and be adopted by other states, and permit wives to retain more rights to inheritances and property than ever before.”

“Women’s anger has led to entirely new forms of civil disobedience. In 1965, U of Chicago student Heather Booth helped a friend’s sister get an illegal abortion. When other women began to call for help, she and a cohort of young feminists began to develop an elaborate system of phone numbers, code words, and houses that would be known as the Jane Collective; they would assist 11,000+ women in getting safe abortions between 1969 and 1973.”

“Everywhere you turned in 2017 and 2018, new ideas arose, fueled by women’s fury, including the TIME’S UP movement and its Legal Defense Fund, established by the women of Hollywood as an attempt to redistribute economic resources to afford women in other industries more stability to come forward with harassment claims.”

“In special elections and primary campaigns, newly angry women brought skills they’d learned in the PTA to canvassing and organizing. After an early primary in GA, a pharma research employee and mother of three young children named Jessica Zeigler, frustrated by low turnout of millennial voters, began implementing a plan to reach older high school students and recent grads who were eligible to vote in the district, but who might live with conservative parents unfriendly to Democratic door-knockers, by setting up a text-banking system via seniors and recent grads of all the local high schools. By the time the post-primary run-offs happened, 1,800 additional voters aged 18–23 had been registered in her district.”

“In 2018, Liuba Gretchen Shirley, who entered politics after the 2016 election to challenge her local Long Island congressman Pete King, furious after he supported Trump’s Muslim ban, successfully petitioned the FEC to be able to use campaign funds to pay for childcare, a potentially game-changing structural shift for women candidates who happen to be mothers. ‘I was enraged,’ she said of her entrance into politics, and her realization, as she was mounting a campaign while trying to juggle and pay for care of 2 young children, about ‘why there are so many millionaires in office.’

Around the world, women have come up with innovative forms of protest and expression, from the black actresses who protested ‘Noire n’est pa mon metier’ on the red carpet in Cannes in 2018 to Frances McDormand, who used her 2018 Oscar acceptance speech to introduce the world to the term ‘inclusion rider,’ a clause by which those with power in Hollywood — the actors and directors — might leverage their heft to guarantee racial and gender diversity by demanding it in their contracts.”

“20 years after [Chisholm’s] presidential run, Carol Moseley Braun would become the first [black woman] to be elected to the Senate. ‘I was absolutely offended,’ she recalled of how she’d felt in 1991 when Clarence Thomas was nominated to the Supreme Court. ‘No, that’s too light a word. I was appalled. I was apoplectic about it.’ Moseley Braun, who’d served in the IL state legislature and in the US Attorney’s office, decided to run for the Senate in 1992.

‘It was such a complete repudiation of Thurgood Marshall’s legacy,’ she said. ‘Marshall had been so important to the liberation of black people, and this as turning the table over on everything the Warren court did. I had had a lifetime of possibilities because of the Warren court; my husband wasn’t black, and our marriage would’ve been illegal but for the Warren Court; I’d marched with Dr. King. The Thomas nomination was a repudiation of everything I’d fought for or worked for and it wouldn’t stand was my attitude.’

Moseley Braun was especially livid at the IL senator, Democrat Alan Dixon, was planning to vote to confirm Thomas. She went to meet with him about it. ‘He was so obtuse about the whole thing, that the conversation lit a fire in my belly. Then came the Hill hearings and then women said, ‘OK. Enough of this.’ The hearings, and the view of the ‘tired, old white men on this committee,’ she said, ‘became the kind under the wings of my candidacy.’

Moseley Braun challenged Dixon in a primary and beat him, becoming the first candidate to successfully topple a sitting senator in a primary in more than a decade. One of her campaign slogans was the unapologetically frank, ‘We don’t need another arrogant rich guy in the Senate.’ It worked. When she won her seat, she not only became the first black woman ever elected to the Senate, but only the second black Senator elected since Reconstruction.”

“In 2018, all previous records were being broken. By the spring, 209 women had announced that they were running for House seats, a number higher than any other time in US history and nearly twice the number that had run just 2 years before. More broadly, according to the Black Women in Politics database, 47 black women were running for federal seats in total, at least 24 of them nonincumbent black women running for the House, then home to only 20 black women.”

“A December 2016 poll askig if the Trump campaign and election had made voters ‘think more about sexism in our society,’ 40% said yes. In November 2017, when asked whether the news about sexual harassment and assault made people think more about societal sexism, 73% said yes. In December 2016, 52% said that the country would be better off with more women in office; in November 2017, 69% gave that answer. And in 2016, 65% of people had felt that men hold more positions of power in society than women; in 2017, that number had risen to 87%. ‘As pollsters we don’t see shifts in attitudes this big,’ Undem said, also noting that women were using the word ‘misogny,’ a word she’d rarely, if ever, heard in previous years.”

“After Clinton’s defeat, local members of Pantsuit Nation discussed taking the group offline and turning it into a live and in-person activist org; they formed Stronger Together AZ. In December 2016, ‘we called a statewide meeting and 800 people showed up, mostly women,’ Penich-Thacker recalled. ‘It was a surprise to the organizers; the museum we’d booked couldn’t even accommodate that many people.’ During the meeting, attendees divided up according to policy interests and Penich-Thacker headed over to a group discussing education. She began making trips to the capitol to protest planned changes in state funding for schools. When the state legislature passed a bill to privatize education, a mission to expand vouchers spearheaded by Betsy DeVos, Penich-Thacker and 5 other women, all moms of varying ages, who’d seen one another over and over again, gathered together and asked what they could do next. They realized the state permitted a right to referendum; if they collected enough signatures they could block the law.

‘We had the blessing of ignorance,’ said Penich-Thacker, noting that they had no idea how unlikely it would be that they could collect 75,000+ signatures in 90 days. ‘We literally didn’t have a penny, and we were 6 people. But we knew all these other pissed off people, the lion’s share of them women, 90% through Stronger Together, FB, and Indivisible.’ They collected 110,000+ signatures and successfully blocked the law. Sued by orgs with ties to DeVos and the Koch brothers, the group soldiered on, winning their court cases.”

“Jessica Morales hoped that connections can be forged by those who’ve never made them before. She told a story of a woman who contacted her by DM on Twitter, as she was trying to organize protesters on social media to stand against Trump’s travel ban. ‘She was this nice teacher in St. Louis who wrote me and said, ‘I’ve never started a protest but I’m willing to go to the airport and I can leave right now. I really want to do this; I feel passionate about this, but I don’t know how to protest.’

Morales sent her a list of things to do: ‘get in your car; get friends, fit as many as you can; if you can, make signs; when you get there sing some songs and do some chants, here are examples; don’t leave, they’re going to tell you that you have to leave, but don’t; make FB event and I’ll promote it and that’s a protest.’ The women made the FB event. And hundreds of people went to the airport in St. Louis, as they did to airports all around the country, by the tens or perhaps hundreds of thousands.”

Conclusion

“I confess that I’m now suspicious of nearly every attempt to code anger as unhealthy, no matter how well meaning or persuasive the source. I believe that Stanton was correct: what is bad for women, when it comes to anger, are the messages that cause us to bottle it up, let it fester, keep it silent, feel shame and isolation for ever having felt it or rechannel it in appropriate directions. What’s good for us is opening our mouths and letting it out, permitting ourselves to feel it and say it and think it and act on it and integrate it into our lives. Just as we integrate joy and sadness and worry and optimism.”

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I read non-fiction and take copious notes. Currently traveling around the world for a few years, follow my journey at https://peacejoyaustin.wordpress.com/blog/

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Austin Rose

Austin Rose

I read non-fiction and take copious notes. Currently traveling around the world for a few years, follow my journey at https://peacejoyaustin.wordpress.com/blog/

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