Let's Keep #ImWithHer, and Make It a Rallying Cry for All Women
For many American women, the election of Donald Trump is the worst case scenario. In an upset that may feel catastrophic to the female body and psyche, a man who has openly expressed his disregard for our gender and our needs has won the highest office in the land. Adding insult to injury, he won on a night that most women believed would end in the historic elevation of a woman to a place we all know she belongs: the Oval Office.
Some are predicting that we will soon face a monumental rollback of the rights women have earned over the past fifty years. Not just reproductive rights, but the right to live free of fear, the right to affordable healthcare, the right to marry whomever we wish, the right to know that we are taking steps forward and not backward — the right to feel like our nation believes us the equal of any man.
If that rollback happens, and we have reason to believe it will in some capacity, it would be a serious threat to our freedom, our bodies — hell, even our happiness.
But anyone who has been to therapy knows this method for dealing with overwhelming emotions: Give yourself a time limit. Tell yourself that you will have five minutes, or four hours, or one whole day to give in to the shock and tumult and gut-punch of this reality, and then vow you will get back to your fighting self.
Do that right now. Set your phone timer. Pull the covers up over your face and let loose the ugliest cry you’ve ever had. And then, when the timer goes off, prepare yourself to not only get to work, but to cast as wide a net of support and compassion for other women and allies as you possibly can. Hillary Clinton said herself, “The worst thing that can happen in a democracy — as well as in an individual’s life — is to become cynical about the future and lose hope.”
Although Clinton's official campaign motto reminded the nation that it's Stronger Together, the one that really stuck — the motto that women rallied around — was the simple and clear message that #ImWithHer.
Awkwardly absent apostrophe and all, #ImWithHer never carried the same sappy and focus-group-tested lacquer of Stronger Together. That first-person pronoun made it personal. Its focus was active. It bound the speaker to the mission.
Uttering #ImWithHer was an act of bravery in the early days of the Clinton campaign, when some supporters quite literally hid their beliefs from friends and family. Then it morphed, as Clinton’s primary chances increased and she sealed the nomination, into a badge many women (and men) were happy to slap on their social media posts. And in recent days, it practically became a requirement: to tell the world in explicit terms how you're voting and how you see things, with a simple nine-letter hashtag. Now supporters are reminding friends and family and the world — and perhaps most importantly, themselves — that they are still with her.
But the expression was never just about Hillary Clinton: the language made that explicit. The beauty of #ImWithHer is that both the women in the phrase — the I and the Her — can be any of us, in any order. I'm with you. You're with me.
The legal and political battles for maintaining and defending women’s rights in this country deserve every ounce of the energy we dedicate to them. But just as rhetoric got us where we are now, rhetoric — of the most meaningful kind — can be converted for our own use.
So let’s keep using #ImWithHer. Use it when a woman in Oklahoma tells the story of how she was denied an abortion she desperately needed. Use it when a Muslim-American woman in Michigan feels afraid to wear the hijab. Use it when a friend can no longer afford her birth control because Obamacare was rolled back. Use it freely to show that we are all in this together, that we hear the struggles of our fellow women, that we are something far more powerful than Americans: we're American women.
The story of this election shouldn’t be that one woman lost and all women lost and now off we go to the dustheap of history. Yes, white men still rule this country. And yeah, many of them proved they had little or no regard for their wives, daughters, sisters, mothers, and female friends. But we kind of already knew that. We had hope that change would come soon and now we have to wait a little longer, and fight a little harder.
Don’t despair the giant barrier that's been put in our path. Climb on top of it and shout that you won’t be subdued. Because the woman who does that? I'm with her.
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