Political change doesn’t come easy but it helps to be a little nasty. Meg Waite Clayton has this Perspective.
Five years ago, I woke in my best friend’s guest room to news that two of my heroines were speaking at a nearby rally. It was day two of a weekend with law school friends from decades ago—women practiced in gently turning aside unwanted attentions, listening politely to sexist jokes, fighting against “the mommy track.” We were private women, “good girls.” We believed in change effected quietly.
Hours later, we cheered wildly as a senator introduced a presidential candidate by claiming as a badge of honor an insult hurled by her male opponent: “We nasty women are going to march our nasty feet to cast our nasty votes.”
That election wasn’t the one we’d dreamed of, but that moment of turning the insult back on the insulter did mark a change. More people stomped their nasty feet in protest against the new administration than attended the inauguration.
A single woman marching is a lonely woman. But one woman plus another plus another equals power.
#MeToo — women saying aloud what so often had been kept secret for fear it was somehow our fault. Harvey Weinstein put away in a maximum security prison for twenty-three years.
#TimesUp — Hollywood women dressing in black, talking about belonging in “the room where it happens.”
We marched our nasty feet to vote in the next midterms for the largest turnout ever, favoring Democrats by a record 19% to elect 110 women to Congress and return one to the Speaker’s seat. Two year later, Kamala marched her nasty feet into the Vice Presidency.
Yes, Texas is now trying to undermine a woman’s right to choose. The percentage of venture capital going to female-led startups fell to 2.3% last year from a paltry high of 2.8. Only one woman was recognized by the Nobel committee.
But as Maria Ressa, that journalist honored with the Peace Prize, says, “Don’t be afraid, because if you don’t use your rights, you will lose them.”
In other words, be as nasty as you need to be. Change is a loud, messy thing.
With a Perspective, I’m Meg Waite Clayton.
Meg Waite Clayton is the author of seven novels. She lives on the Peninsula.