She’s mad but she’s magic. There is no lie in her fire. – Charles Bukowski
On January 21st, 2017 between 3-5 million American women walked out their front door and onto the streets for the largest single-day protest the country had ever seen. One day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, the Women’s March proved a preamble to the foment of the unprecedented impact of the #MeToo movement that followed. There was more than enough evidence that a groundswell of American women were done with being “nice” and had simply had enough. Books released in 2018, like Rebecca Traister’s Good and Mad, or Soraya Chemaly’s Rage Becomes Her, brought laser focus to this reality, exploring the history of accomplishments attributable to women’s ferocity in taking action around circumstances that were simply no longer acceptable. In the days after the women’s march a conversation was mounting about women taking off in our country, reflecting, perhaps, the Dalai Lama’s prophecy that “the world will be saved by Western women.”
This broad display of angry, defiant women is progress, no doubt. The record level women and minorities elected during the mid-terms reflected this. It was something feminist writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, author of The Yellow Wallaper, written in 1892, could hardly have imagined during that early period of first wave feminism. Gilman’s character had found a kind of liberation through a ‘crazy’-madness where she began to challenge the status quo around her, but herein was a different kind of mad: angry mad, publicly angry mad, mad by the millions!
However, just as statistics about a rise in anxiety during the Trump presidency don’t tell the personal story of people’s experience of that anxiety, how it has changed them for better or worse, nor do statistics about the number of women (and their allies) who took to the streets tell the story of how women across America have experienced their anger, fed-up-ness and outrage. How it has over the last several years perhaps deepened their cynicism or, potentially, spawned a new level of empowerment and vision. This is the inside story. Continue reading “PART TWO: Strength – The Essence of Anger (3 of 5)”→
My son was recently assigned “This Land is Your Land” by his piano teacher. Driving home from the lesson with his brother, we sang the chorus together in the car. I delightfully twanged out my best attempt at Guthrie’s classic, 1950s, American-folk voice. “This land is your land, this land is my land, from the Redwood Forests to the New York Islands…” It’s great, isn’t it? Like all the best folks songs, it hijacks your heart making it hard to stop once you’ve started.
There are those who will tell you to doubt yourself
and you will heed them
because you love them
(or because your life began depending on them?)
and take in their guidance to your core.
You will turn all you know to be true upside down
and you will live — inside out —half-mad
a frail misunderstanding of yourself.
They will tell you God is not real,
or that God is something you know not
or that their God in the sky is it and nothing more.
They will tell you that the sun is not magnificent
for rising in the east each morning
and that the earth is simply there for the taking. Continue reading “Dragon Queen Woman”→
Time to start taking our lessons from those who’ve been there and done that for decades.
Movements are about more than moments; they are about thoughtful networks of dissent built over time.
These words shared in the New York Times, by Blair Kelley, a professor of Civil Rights History echo sentiments I shared in an article I wrote in the fateful weeks after Trump’s election.
To say it has been hard to hold the vision for justice in America through Trump’s steady, aggressive onslaught against it — the defining signature of his presidency — is, let’s just agree, an understatement. But understanding the long arc of commitment in the civil rights movement does give me faith. Continue reading “Calibrating the Civic Heart”→