We’re down to the last couple days of Women’s History Month of 2017, and what an interesting month it’s been. As an American woman, I must admit that personally, most of my “fierce, fearless optimism” about our strides of progress in the U.S. was definitely at a low point since November 9th, 2016.
I really didn’t think I could feel any more dismal about the issues of women’s equality, but Inauguration Day came. While I chose to leave the Discovery Channel on in the background all day long, I couldn’t help but feel the anxiety over what this new Administration would have in store for us. As far as I was concerned, anyone who has followed Donald Trump over the years would have good reason to be anxious about a misogynistic individual like himself occupying the highest office in the land.
As we Americans, women and men alike, watched the first thirty, then sixty days of the Trump Administration take shape, I realized the funk I was in, Even with the beauty of seeing the Women’s March happening all over the world, likely wasn’t going to break without serious action on my part, or so I thought.
Then the Sean Spicer event happened with Shree Chauthan. Not long after, Steve King and his comments about what kinds of babies are the “right” babies and other nonsensical ideas, old and new, hit the airwaves. Then, just a couple days ago, Bill O’Reilly and his notoriously sexist, racist mouth got the best of him.
And believe it or not, that’s where my optimism came bouncing back. I felt a spark of it when Senator Elizabeth Warren persisted and refused to acquiesce to Senator Mitch McConnell and his attempt to put her in her “place.” I felt that spark grow listening to Ms. Chauthan speak truth to power, in a diligent and determined way. I saw Representative Maxine Waters, or #AuntieMaxine as she’s affectionately being called, calmly and rationally reply to O’Reilly’s comments:
And that’s when it clicked: no matter how bad things may feel, the “one step forward, two steps back” tango many women in U.S. society feel at times, it resonated with me that our greatest strides in progress are most often out of the most trying and adverse times.
While I still feel the shock, awe, dismay and frankly, anger when men and women (unfortunately) of the right wing persuasion say and believe the insane things they do, it’s exactly at those instances where that spark of frustration turns to optimism.
See, we as women have come so far-even in just the last 30 years. Many like myself, were born into a different kind of America than the O’Reillys, the Spicers, and the Kings. We were raised by mothers and fathers who told us we could do anything, be anything, play any sport we wanted and that nothing could stop us. We refuse to go back to any other type of existence.
As I watched Representative Waters, and within a day, political strategist Angela Rye, deal with not only misogynist comments, but highly bigoted ones, as is usual from Joe Walsh, I remembered one thing my dad always used to tell me; “You may have to work harder, be a bit louder, a bit more agile and savvy in how you go about things, but with determination, standing on your natural born right as a human being to be considered equal, you can do it.” Growing up he would often say that sometimes it may be harder, as a woman, but it doesn’t mean you can’t do it.
Given where we are in history and the issues that are facing us as Americans, and citizens of the world, we can definitely can come out of this tough time in history stronger for living through it.
Although the things being said are so revolting and “politically incorrect”, it is encouraging to me to see the responses from these fearless women, who remind us that we have a voice which we are no longer afraid nor ashamed of using. A voice that we won’t allow to be silenced back to some 1950’s mentality of being seen and not heard.
Beyond that, we have so many amazing young women of the next generation who are watching all of this – good, bad and ugly – and learning how to use their own voices. My hope for this Women’s History Month is that I’ll see total equality in my lifetime. The last thing that gave me joy, nearly to the point of tears, was hearing my 16 year old niece, asking if she could stay up late to watch Dr. Rachel Maddow’s show(!).
It was then that I realized the hope of progress for American women and women around the world cannot and will not be diminished.