From Stories to Resistance

 

A Six-Day Walk Through the Alps, Inspired by Simone de Beauvoir by Emily Witt

A Six-Day Walk Through the Alps, Inspired by Simone de Beauvoir
by Emily Witt

My response to the incoming Trump administration fluctuates between rage and terror. Staying in the range of rage feels more useful. Fear can lead to paralysis and actions that are protective and defensive, rather than challenging and offensive. I want to be on offense.

In that stance, I’m calling back my original adult rage as a woman, when I first began to understand how patriarchy and male domination shaped not only my life but the course of human history. Men’s subjection and ownership of women has done nothing but harm, though the men in charge would argue that this statement is meaningless because men controlling women is how the world should be organized.

To which I would say, “Not true. And fuck you!” Yesterday the Trump transition team sent a memo to the State Department, asking for information “outlining existing programs and activities to promote gender equality, such as ending gender-based violence, promoting women’s participation in economic and political spheres, entrepreneurship, etc.” Should we be worried? Hell, yes. State Department employees are and so am I. 

I’m also pissed and returning to my feminist roots to shape my fury and dig in against the coming assaults by the Trump administration on reproductive rights, gender equity, body autonomy, public benefits and a living wage, because keeping people poor and dependent hurts no one more than women and their children.

In that spirit, my most recent collage is from a the NY Time Style Magazine article on Simone de Beauvoir, an early feminist. The Second Sex was one of the first feminist books I read. Beauvoir’s analysis of women’s oppression and gender as a social construct influenced my thinking and put me on the path to my career working to end violence against women.

Battered women’s and rape crisis programs began by women telling each other their stories of violation and abuse. Out of these stories a movement of resistance was born, because listening to each other helped women understand they were not alone, they were not to blame for violence perpetrated against them, and they could organize to support each other in getting out from under the control of abusers.

Now the stories emerging post-election are essential to the resistance against the intolerance, greed and autocracy we see coming as Trump and his cronies take over the most powerful positions in our country. Listening to stories of frustrations and wrongs and triumphs will remind us we’re not alone, we’re not to blame for the violations of our human rights and that we can organize to support each other and push back at attempts to control us.

Here are three stories I’ve heard recently.

The day after the election, a second grade boy in North Carolina was inconsolable and couldn’t stop crying. He was afraid when he went home his parents would be gone, kicked out of the country.

A woman in West Virginia left her house early on election day to be sure she’d have time to vote before having to be at work at 9:00 a.m. When she got to the polls she was told her home was no longer in the district for that polling place and the location where she could vote was 40 minutes away. Some of her neighbors were also there and unable to vote. When they asked why they hadn’t been notified of the change, they were told a notice had been published in the paper — as they found out, a tiny notice on an inside page. The woman never got to vote because she couldn’t afford to be late for work.

A young man whose family had voted for Obama talked to his father after the election and it came out that the father had voted for Trump. When the son asked how he could have done that, the father wavered and said he’d thought he’d vote for Clinton but he didn’t agree with all of Clinton’s policies. Finally, the father admitted that when he got in the voting booth, “I just couldn’t bring myself to vote for a woman for President.”

Feminist anger as fuel. I’m ready to blast off.

 

 

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About Grace Mattern

Grace Mattern is a poet, writer, mother, grandmother, partner, friend, family member, gardener, triathlete, hiker and for 30 years was the Executive Director of the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. She resigned her position at the Coalition on June 15, 2011 in order to concentrate on her writing, while continuing to engage in the movement to end violence against women as a consultant and advisor. Her chapbook Fever of Unknown Origin was published in 2001 and her full-length poetry book The Truth About Death was published in 2012.
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2 Responses to From Stories to Resistance

  1. Melissa says:

    Thank you for your voice. I never miss a blog.These days challenge me like none I have known. Wishing you moments of peace and love this holiday with your family. I am working the 25th but delighted that the kids will be “home” for the gathering of family on the 26th.

    • Grace Mattern says:

      Thanks, Melissa. I love to think of you reading my blog. As you see, I’m writing more political posts because it’s what is needed now. May you and your family have moments of peace and love this holiday too.

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