Claire Wasserman is the founder of Ladies Get Paid. The views expressed here are her own.
Strange as it sounds, there is much to be thankful for in this post-election period, even for those of us in Pantsuit Nation.
The ugliness of this campaign stripped us of our idealism and forced us to confront a reality of bigotry and sexism. No one can deny anymore that sexism still exists. Many millennials believed the fight for feminism was over, that Gloria Steinem had taken care of it. However, Trump fast-tracked our education in the patriarchy — and with awareness comes action. Those of us who have the platforms to speak up must do so.
A few months ago, I started Ladies Get Paid, an organization that seeks to achieve wage equality and workplace diversity through education and community. Though there was always an element of activism, it wasn’t intended to be political. But when Trump said he wanted to grab our pussies, shit definitely got political.
On November 9, I awoke to a really bad hangover and hundreds of messages from women all over the world. While many of those messages were incredibly angry, they were also hopeful. These women recognized that we had a bullhorn we could use and our community, 2,000-strong, could be an army for change. Though the election might have been over, our work was just beginning. The day after the election was devastating, to be sure. But it also may have been the most empowered I’d ever felt in my life.
As a founder of a network of women and a platform for professional development, I feel a sense of responsibility to step up, to bring our members together, and to corral their anger in a concentrated direction. Making noise is great insofar that it can be an agent for change. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “It is not enough for people to be angry. The supreme task is to organize and unite people so that their anger becomes a transforming force.”
So, here are 15 ways you can channel your anger into action right now.
1. Embrace your rage. Women are socialized to suppress their anger because it is seen as unfeminine. But anger can be the galvanizing force that unites and fuels us to seek social change. Therefore, we must not normalize Trump’s sexist behavior: Hold onto your anger as a safeguard against complacency.
2. Don’t become disillusioned by the system. The belief that the system is rigged might allow it to become so, away from watchful eyes. Remember, the government works for you.
3. Check your sources. Be vigilant about fake news and always verify before you share.
4. Study sneaky politicking. Wonder why Republicans swept the House? “Liberal elitism” isn’t the only reason; recent gerrymandering of many counties saw historically blue states turn red this election.
5. Hold politicians accountable. There are many ways you can put pressure on your local representative to ensure that wage equality and female-friendly workplace policies are enacted. You can start by lobbying your congressperson to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and telling the White House and Department of Labor to act quickly to finalize the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order Regulations.
6. Get involved in the midterm elections. While Democrats may have lost both the Senate and the House, we don’t have to wait four years to reverse it. See who is running in 2018, and do what you can to help.
7. Run for office and encourage others to do so, as well.
8. Champion those women who did win in this election, as their visibility will inspire others.
9. Experience democracy to its fullest. Organize and participate in peaceful demonstrations to show your solidarity with marginalized groups. (Going to the Women’s March on Washington? We’d love you to join the Ladies Get Paid pre-march meetup.)
10. Study other movements. From women’s suffrage to the fight for civil rights, there is much to be learned from those changemakers who came before us.
11. Prepare your talking points. Arming yourself with data about why wage equality and diversity in the workplace improves the bottom line might be our best defense against naysayers.
12. Communicate with care. Our biggest challenge, besides dealing with internet trolls, will be in not speaking to the echo chamber. Ladies Get Paid is currently urban-focused, but the people who got Donald Trump elected mostly live in the Rust Belt. I’m concerned the way we communicate will, at best, not resonate, and at worst, offend. We believe in uniting women everywhere. But more than half of white women voted for Trump — will our message connect with them?
13. Listen to the other side. Mustering empathy for those who don’t agree with us does not mean we are condoning their views, even when those views include bigotry. It is crucial for progress.
14. Focus your efforts. Whatever you are most passionate about is where you must concentrate your efforts. As an organization that provides career development, Ladies Get Paid will be allied with work-focused rights, no matter how much we personally believe in a woman’s right to choose. Plus, trying to do everything at once simply isn’t sustainable.
15. Accept that you will piss people off.
Leading up to the election, I’d been struck by the number of people — men and women alike — who wore their Nasty Woman swag as a badge of honor. Apart from a feminist rally or a sorority party, when have we seen such a mass, public display of female empowerment and solidarity? But solidarity doesn’t happen when things are going well. Most often, we link arms in opposition to something — whether it was during the civil rights movement or after 9/11. When the worst happens, people can often be at their best.
If Hillary Clinton had won, I wonder if our fight against the glass ceiling would have seemed as urgent as it does now. It probably would’ve been an uphill battle to convince people that, despite having a woman in the highest office, most women still don’t make it to the boardroom. Our fight for equal rights wouldn’t have ended with a Clinton presidency, and it certainly should not end now. It is now on us to protect the rights of women and marginalized groups, to hold politicians accountable, and to keep Pantsuit Nation going. It is our responsibility to continue what Clinton began and the movement her campaign ignited. We must harness that energy, organize it, nurture it.
That shimmy? We’ve got to keep doing it. The greatest tragedy would be to let this moment —our moment — go by. So let’s band together and get to work.