I was recently chuckling over a podcast called “Children’s Letters to Satan, and Other Christmas Stories,” in which the New Yorker Radio Hour delves into the pile of letters written by kids who can’t spell Santa’s name correctly and mistakenly address their requests for holiday gifts to the Prince of Darkness. As someone who spends a ridiculous amount of time proofreading my own writing, I get an enormous kick out of discovering other people’s howlers in surprising places.
As a connoisseur of magnificent typos, I was charmed to receive an email recently from an American friend who wrote, “Needless to say [the president] has made us shutter in disbelief.” Yes, no doubt she meant “shudder,” but this spelling may be even more appropriate. Haven’t we all had moments during 2017 when we wanted to retreat indoors, slam the shutters closed, and hunker down behind a stout piece of furniture to wait for the political storm to pass?
If only we could. Unfortunately, if we all spend the next three years huddled under the bed eating Oreos (and yes, there are times that option seems mighty attractive), the situation is just going to get worse — and quite possibly last for seven years instead of three, with who knows what to follow.
Many people I know express outrage at current events and tell me they’d love to do something — if only they could figure out what. Blue state friends feel particularly stymied; what is the point, they ask, in calling legislators who are already voting in sympathy with the progressive agenda? I call this being paralyzed by Indivisible Syndrome. You may have heard of the Indivisible Guide — a terrific, savvy, grassroots organizing manual produced shortly after the election; many of us grabbed onto it like a life preserver from the Titanic. But calling our legislators and showing up at Town Hall meetings — while vital to the effort — aren’t the only way we can work to stop the madness. The administration is attacking our rights and freedoms on a hundred fronts at once, hoping we’ll be too shocked and overwhelmed to react appropriately to each one.
It’s a strategy that has worked well for some predators in the past.
You may have read the interview with businesswoman Jessica Leads in the New York Times, in which she described sitting next to a stranger in the first-class cabin of a flight to New York three decades ago. Forty-five minutes after takeoff, she recalled, her seatmate flipped up the armrest, grabbed her breasts, and attempted to slide his hands up her skirt. “He was like an octopus,” she said, “His hands were everywhere.” A month after the story ran, she watched her alleged attacker being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.
Are we all getting the octopus treatment right now? You bet. The president’s hands are reaching everywhere, pulling the plug on climate control, whisking away health coverage for 13 million Americans, grabbing tax cuts for billionaires, giving hate groups the high sign, making insulting gestures to our allies, patting our enemies on the back, and waving off allegations of sexual misconduct from twenty women.
And what are we doing to stop all this? A tremendous amount, actually. There are organizations all over the country working hard to counteract the systematic dismantling of our way of life, our form of government, and our essential liberties. I have spent the last year interviewing Resistance leaders and researching progressive organizations actively seeking volunteers. I’ve collected all this information in my new book, Women of the American Resistance: You Are the One We Have Been Waiting For. What are you passionate about? Police brutality against minorities? The war on birth control? Transgender bathroom policies? The Americans with Disabilities Act? Refugees? Gun laws? The fact that global warming is threatening the world’s chocolate supply? There’s a group out there working on your priority issue right now, and they could use your help. Find them on Google, in my book, or wherever Resisters are gathered.
Last night Rich and I went to see the slightly cheesy but entertaining new Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi, and the character Rose summed it up nicely. “That’s how we’re gonna win. Not fighting what we hate, saving what we love.” A little boy in our row leaned over and said loudly to his dad, “The good guys always win.” If only that were true! Unlike Hollywood endings, real life doesn’t come with any guarantees. Sometimes we think we’re writing letters to kindly old St. Nick and discover we’re pen pals with Beelzebub instead. But if we've learned anything from the cathartic #metoo movement, it’s that American women have far more power than we realized.
Collectively, we are armed, for the first time in history, with formidable economic power, education, professional work experience, political clout, and access to instant global communications. And we are prepared to use these resources to dismantle an outmoded patriarchal system that seeks to suppress us. We toppled Harvey Weinstein and dozens of other seemingly untouchable power brokers, and there’s no telling how high our reach can go.