Thursday, December 22, 2016

Outgrowing our Pants

I must preface this post by telling you that I am an old radical from the 60s.  I marched, protested, was gassed, bailed out friends who were arrested, and more. I attended a hotbed college in the heart of Washington DC.  I had friends in the Weathermen.  I knew Black Panthers.  I was against the draft and the war in Vietnam.  I was for civil rights. I was a feminist in the Mad Men days.

We once fought about the peace sign.
Some called it a broken cross and
disrespectful to Christians.  
I will also tell you that after the 60s I became a wife and mother. I got a job.  I got a divorce. I was a single mother raising two daughters.  I belonged to churches, baked cookies, and attended school plays. In short, I lived a more or less regular life. I was still a feminist.

Now, I am old. I spent my professional career observing and writing about things.  I cannot seem to stop.  So, this is what I observe now.

The election of trump (lower case intentional) is destined to bring out the best and the worst in us.  I’m not talking here about how he has lined his cabinet with white nationalists (aka racists) or how the repugs in Congress seem blind to the danger this man poses to our country.  No.  I am talking about the women who oppose all this.

A couple weeks before the election, a friend added me to Pantsuit Nation, a FaceBook group started to encourage women to show solidarity on election day by wearing pantsuits – a nod to our candidate. What fun! I thought.  After the election results, I was pleased to see this group morph quickly into one that mobilized to preserve women’s rights.  Still, I knew what was coming.

And here it is.  FaceBook is exploding with rival factions within the many groups that are either subgroups of Pantsuit Nation or splinter groups.  I knew this would happen.  It always does.  It’s not just with groups of women, it is with all groups.  It is the very reason that up until the election I have resisted joining any group.  I gave up church long ago (those split, too, BTW).  I don’t even do book clubs.  Essentially, I hate the whole group thing.  I am at heart an individualist, independent to my core.  I struggled as a student and as a parent of students to conform to the educational groups.  I was lousy at the whole religion thing.  Even my radical college split because some people were judged not radical enough.
I say all this to share my perspective.  This shit happens. It almost makes no difference if it is about a book deal or difference in philosophy. If it is not treason or a felony, I'm too old to waste my limited energy swatting at flies while I battle the dragon. Even that statement is inflammatory, I know. Do what you will with it. I saw this coming and joined anyway.  And this time, I’m staying.  I belong to a number of these groups.  I will never agree with all of them, especially not all the time.  But I will work my ass off and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with anyone, man or woman, black or white, willing to go up against the rising tide of American fascism.  There will be pettiness.  There will be backbiting.  There will be self-serving and breast-beating.

I don’t care. There.  I said it.  You can look down your well-powdered, middleclass, white nose at my poverty and ask why I didn’t save more.  You can point your black chin at me and accuse me of enjoying my white privilege. You can pray for me or condemn me to hell for being an atheist. I don’t care. I am not out to change anyone or seek anyone’s approval.  I am here simply to work. You don’t have to agree with me at every point and I don’t have to share your exact viewpoint.  But we do have to work together, or if not together, at least against our common enemy, instead of against each other. 

The fact is, I like the energy and passion I see. I haven’t seen this for decades. Once I sat in smoky rooms debating such philosophy and strategy. Passion is bound to spill over into hurt and anger a bit.  Be passionate!  If you are sick of people not talking frankly about race, by all means, talk about race. Force the issue.  If you see someone taking advantage of our movement, speak up.  Just please, keep your focus on the reason we are here.  We stand to lose our reproductive rights, our voting rights, our civil rights. These are the very rights for which we fought in the 50s and 60s and 70s.  We want to block alignment with those behind the atrocities in Aleppo and at Standing Rock.  We want to be on the right side of history and not lose sight of the goal while working out the details.

This isn’t about pantsuits, or safety pins, or which group is pure.
 This is about our lives, our children’s and grandchildren’s lives.  This is about the preservation of our country.  This is about moving forward, not back.  So, bicker all you like. I'm no one's apologist and I’m not going anywhere.

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