Anger: The Unintentional Gift

Anger is like gasoline. If you spray it around and somebody lights a match, you’ve got an inferno. [But] if we can put our anger inside an engine, it can drive us forward.

~Scilia Elworthy


Wow. I haven’t seen women this riled up since January 2017. This is really big, I said to my husband while I scrolled through Twitter.

And it was.

And it is.

Page after page of women – enraged. With a white-hot focus and the protective instinct of a herd of mother bears, women came to the defense of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

As you almost certainly know, after reporters “outed” her, Dr. Ford came forward to share her #MeToo story: Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape her at a house party in the 1980s when he was a 17-year-old prep student; he pinned her down and covered her mouth to stifle her screams while he and a friend laughed “maniacally.”

Women – as a group more prone to external processing – took to social media en masse, processing this newest MeToo in the most public of ways.

It’s like group therapy, I said. But with half of the population participating.

Women my age and older educated the younger generations on what high school was like back in the 80s and 90s – when getting too drunk meant that whatever happened to you was entirely your fault and “you should have known better.” Younger women educated women my age and older that times have not really changed.

Walking down that memory lane, I got tired just remembering the mental struggle of wanting someone to like you – and also wanting to ensure he didn’t “Kavanaugh” you.

And yes, I think “Kavanaugh” should be a verb.

Because what he has been accused of doing – what he almost certainly did – is so damn common that we should honor our collective experiences by giving it a name.

To be Kavanaughed is to be physically overpowered by the rich, smart, preppy boy that everyone – including everyone’s parents – thinks is such a catch he’d never need to assault anyone. To be Kavanaughed is to be assaulted by someone so respected that their word outranks yours automatically. To be Kavanaughed is to be pinned down by someone who would smirk and laugh while you flailed and fought for your life. Who would brush off the encounter like lint from his shoulder, while you slog through decades of psychotherapy, missed opportunities and torched relationships.

And the collective rage that we’re seeing on Twitter should tell you just how many women have been Kavanaughed.

So this group therapy session is a bit of a gift, really.

First, because we’re able to get all of these feelings and memories out in the open (if we want to, of course).

But second, because we’re doing it in a moment when we feel the power that comes with our collective rage, and we can use it to propel us into a place of even more power.

The midterm elections are no longer theoretical goals. They’re less than two months away. When you were hyperventilating on your couch in November 2016 praying that November 2018 would hurry up and get here – these are the days you were waiting for.

But lately we women have been busy – school has started and we’re humming along working hard like we always do. It’s hard to stay focused, to stay motivated, to stay … angry.

But this fresh sweet Kavanaugh hell? Well.

They threw gas on a fire that had been simmering, but that – frankly – needed some fuel.

It doesn’t really matter if he did it or not at this point.

What matters is they clearly don’t care whether he did.

And that we can easily see.

We ladies can also see that, if confirmed, two of nine justices on the Supreme Court of the United States will have been credibly accused of sexual assault. Two of nine justices will have been nominated by a President who was credibly accused of sexual assault by multiple women. Five of the nine justices will have been chosen specifically because an organization that does not want women to have bodily autonomy had them on a short list.

They have proven time and again – with legislation, with nominations, with words and with deeds – that they are not interested in women’s rights. Hell – they didn’t even think allegations that Kavanaugh attempted rape when he was a teenager was going to be a big deal until they started getting frantic reports from their pollsters warning that women were hitting the roof.

Now they’re nervously laughing and looking around, wondering where all these women came from.

Huh. I wonder.

This is not a blue wave.

It’s pink.

Let’s prove it.

Let’s get to work.


Actions

Tuesday: Demand Better from the Judiciary Committee

In 1991, Professor Anita Hill testified at Clarence Thomas’s nomination hearings regarding his pervasive sexual harassment. The questioning she was subjected to by that committee was ridiculous. We need to learn from our mistakes and experiences, and do better this time.

Professor Hill has suggested some changes to the process that would make it better and less partisan. You can read her entire op-ed here.

Let’s call the Judiciary Committee ((202)224-5225), and ask them to learn from history.

Hi, my name is ____ and I’m calling to encourage the committee to treat the Kavanaugh hearings and allegations against him with the seriousness they deserve – by selecting a neutral investigative body with experience in sexual misconduct cases that will investigate and present its findings to the committee. Americans are tired of the partisan pandering that goes on in these hearings, and if getting to the truth is important, having an experienced and neutral investigatory committee take the lead only makes sense. Thanks.

Wednesday: Call/Text Five Friends

Today, very simple ask. Contact five friends – any five! And ask them two very simple questions: Are you registered to vote? Have you checked your registration lately?

You may have heard that a number of people who went to vote in New York last week learned that they had been purged from the rolls – even though they are regular voters. You need to check your own registration, and also ensure that your friends know they need to check as well. Don’t just do this once, folks! I’ve made it a habit to do this once a week.

You can check – and your friends can check – at https://www.dontgetpurged.org

Don’t get left out!

Thursday: Oppose the Second Round of Tax Cuts

The second round of tax cuts are very, very similar to the first – and with the amount of controversy swirling around D.C. these days, it’s hard for this story to get any traction at all. But House Republicans are hoping to pass a second round of tax cuts that will make permanent certain parts of the tax scam they passed last year.

Call your Congress(wo)man and let her or him know that you don’t support this tax cut any more than you supported the last one. With the deficit reaching astronomical heights, they have no business cutting taxes. In fact, this new round of tax cuts is expected to add $3.6 trillion to deficits over the long term.

Script: Hi, my name is ___ and I’m a constituent at ____. I’m calling to ask the Congress(wo)man to oppose this most recent round of tax cuts. It’s clear that the focus of this Congress is to pander to wealthy donors at the expense of people like me and future generations. I didn’t support the last round of tax cuts, and this round is just as bad. Please ask the Congress(wo)man to vote against this terrible idea. Thanks.

Friday: Oppose the House Version of the Farm Bill

Once again we’ve got a huge bill that’s getting very little attention because our news cycle (and our brains) are only able to digest so much information in 24 hours. So the short version is this: the House and the Senate versions of the Farm Bill are different in key aspects. Because they both passed out of their chambers, reps from the House and the Senate are trying to hammer out a compromise (it’s called a “conference committee”). They’re duking it out, mostly behind closed doors. But it’s really worth keeping an eye on.

One big difference: the House version would require additional work requirements for people to access SNAP benefits (food stamps). A non-partisan group estimated that these work requirements would throw 2 million people off the rolls – “with about a third of the affected households containing senior citizens, nearly a quarter with children, and 11 percent with a disabled person.”

But there are other significant differences, as described in this helpful summary from Mother Jones:

Preventing localities from regulating pesticides. Titled “Regulatory Reform,” Section 9101 of the House Bill would forbid “political subdivision[s] of a state”—i.e., counties, cities—from imposing their own restrictions on pesticide use. Here’s an interactive national map with links to city policies that could be threatened.

• Allowing wealthy farmers to grab crop subsidies. Under current law, farmers with more than $900,000 in annual income—$1.8 million for couples—are barred from receiving crop subsidies. “But Sec. 1603 of the House bill now under consideration would exempt certain farm partnerships, joint ventures and other corporate farms from the means test,” reports Environmental Working Group. “If included in the final farm bill, many millionaires and billionaires will no doubt reorganize their farm businesses to exploit this new loophole.”

• Gut a crucial conservation initiative. The Conservation Stewardship Program, as it’s known, offsets some of the costs incurred by farmers for implementing practices like cover crops to keep soil and fertilizer in place over the winter; buffer strips that prevent severe soil erosion from storms; and hedgerows as habitat for wild bees and other beneficial insects. As I explain here, the House bill would shove the CSP into a smaller program and effectively slash its funding.

***

So, what to do? Go to https://www.handsoffsnap.org for a roster of who is on the House/Senate conference committee, as well as sample graphics, sample tweets and telephone numbers to oppose the House version of the bill.

If your Senators/Rep aren’t on the committee, you can still call. Hungry kids, local rule and conservation should not be a partisan issue.

But here we are.


Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every e-mail. (Really! I really do!) We’re in this together.

If you want one more quick action, make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two.

If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!

Lastly, if you’d like to support this work (thanks to those who have done so!), you can become a supporter here.

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