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I Grieve and I Am Angry For The Women I Will Never Know

Inspiration arrives from the strangest sources, the most unlikely places. I usually have something mindless on television in the background while I write now that I live alone.  

On an episode of the sitcom Bewitched, I heard the words, “One thing you better learn about American politics is that kooks vote.”  This line from a sitcom in the 1960s continues to apply today.

Last night, the movie The Next Karate Kid was playing in the background. I heard the character of Mr. Miyagi say words that made me stop typing in my tracks:

“Grief trapped in the heart becomes anger.”

Those words encapsulated, for me, what it feels like to be a woman under a Republican White House administration and Congress – not to mention a Republican-controlled state legislature.

I recognise now that I feel grief, facing dozens of bills that seek to erode my rights with each legislative session, facing the possibility of losing hard won rights with each Supreme Court appointment. I feel grief that the country chose to elect so many representatives, including the one to the highest office in the land, who have so little respect for women.

I feel grief that I live in a state whose legislature legalises openly carrying guns on college campuses filled with young people, but makes openly carrying a vibrator illegal.  

Women are fighting battles all over again that our mothers and grandmothers had already fought. I thought we had reached a certain level of safety regarding women’s rights in this country. I naively thought my daughter’s generation was safe.

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I am 45-years-old. I will never need another abortion. I will never again need access to birth control. But to me, one of the main differences between the right and the left is that the left care whether it affects us or not. We care out of a sense of justice. I care because it is going to affect my daughter and her friends who I’ve known their entire lives. I care and grieve because what the right wing is trying to do will affect all young women for generations to come. I care and grieve for women I will never know.

Other than the legislative and judicial battles women face, I feel grief over the climate of fear and harassment under which so many women, especially young women, live.

Talk to a young woman who has played video games online in a predominantly male environment. Ask a young woman in the tech industry about her experiences with gatekeeping, the process by which men in the industry seek to limit women’s access and forward progress.

How many times have I heard the terms “locker room talk” and “boys will be boys”? I’ve heard it from family members; I’ve heard it from the man who is now the president.  

I recognise now that words like those have turned my grief to anger. I know that anger makes many people around me uncomfortable, including some family members. I return to those original words:

“Grief trapped in the heart becomes anger.”

For me, the key is trying to free the grief trapped in the heart that has turned to anger without capitulating to those who seek to control women. To paraphrase Shakespeare, therein lies the rub.  

The key lies in activism. The two times I’ve marched, I’ve felt some of the anger release, being surrounded by others who are experiencing the same grief. Writing and sharing my views in progressive media unclenches a bit of that anger.

I won’t pretend the anger is going away. The anger will likely stay until as voters we can make some changes during mid-term elections or, if we must wait that long, the presidential election of 2020. But speaking out serves as a release valve for that grief and anger. A release valve is preferable to just allowing the grief to continue to harden and swell into anger, even if the release valve makes others uncomfortable.

One of my favorite sayings which, due to the events in Charlottesville has been all over the Internet, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”  

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