Does That Work For You?

Women have had to put up with this bullshit for way too long. ~Sen. Mazie Hirono

Some days I am more wolf than woman, and I am still learning how to stop apologizing for my wild. ~Nikita Gill


Maybe it was the way that she delivered those words – “Does that work for you?” – in the midst of recounting the worst moments of her life that made us feel so connected to her.

Maybe that’s why so many of us cried.

Dr. Ford just needed a break – pretty understandable, considering the circumstances. And so she asked the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Chuck Grassley, for that break in the most polite, heartbreakingly accommodating manner:

“Does that work for you?” she asked – tentative and graceful and real and imperfect, with that chunk of blonde hair always getting in her way.

“Does that work for you all?

Many people have remarked on how quintessentially feminine that was. To ask for a break so gently – playing the hostess in your own crucifixion and tending to the feelings of your executioners. Caring and thoughtful even while attacked, trying to help everyone around her even when admittedly terrified and completely out of her element.

But there’s something in the exchange that followed that’s stuck out to me even more – something nobody has focused on because it’s so damn common.

It’s what Grassley said in response.

First just humor me and think for a second – what should he have said? What could he have said? Oh, gosh. There are plenty of options, aren’t there? How about “Yes, ma’am, and what a lovely thing to ask. Thank you for your consideration.” Or just a simple “Sure does, Dr. Ford – we’ll adjourn until ___.”

But guess what he chose to do instead?

He chose to chastise her. Politely, of course.

“We’re here to accommodate you, not the other way around.”

Everyone smiled. A few chuckles. The kind that you know are accompanied with whispers of Oh how nice, now. The Senator ensuring she knows they are trying to accommodate her. Isn’t that kind?

No. No it was not.

In that short sentence, he reminded her that she was out of her element, out of her league, and out of place, and that she was doing it all wrong even though she was trying like hell to do everything right.

(And of course, we know that what he said was complete garbage anyway. They were not there to accommodate her. They were there to assassinate her character. They had already called her “mixed up,” after all. It wasn’t hard to imagine where they were going to go.)

And my, oh my, we women try to do everything right, don’t we? We travel in incredibly tight spaces. There’s no room for missteps; there’s not even much room to breathe. There’s certainly no room for emotion. Especially if you want to be taken seriously.

If women are enraged, then we’re dismissed.

If we’re too accommodating, we’re dismissed.

If we cry, we’re dismissed.

If we’re icy, or clinical, or dry, we’re dismissed.

If we’re loud, we’re dismissed.

If we’re soft-spoken, we’re dismissed.

If we’re young, we’re dismissed.

If we’re old, we’re dismissed.

If we’re beautiful, we’re dismissed.

If we aren’t, we’re dismissed.

So the lesson, the overarching lesson is simply that women are dismissed.

And all the way, we’re apologizing. For not being more accommodating, more understanding, more knowledgeable. Or maybe we’re apologizing for not being more direct, more confident, more assertive.

We’re all apologizing for not being more … perfect – the definition of which varies dramatically depending upon the situation.

It took the Resistance movement for me to fully recognize the psychic impact of tens of millions of lives’ worth of dismissals and apologies.

It’s shaped everything about who we are.

Hasn’t it?

Being in a room of fellow female activists is like being in one big support group – but with good-hearted apologies flying around like four letter words in a bar. Accomplished, interesting, intelligent women using skills and experience in ways that two years ago they’d never have imagined – while skillfully navigating everyone else’s feelings and personal goals, encouraging and validating along the way. Swapping campaign stories over postcard writing – to help ensure friends reach benchmarks they’ve promised they’d reach. Dragging strollers along on door knocks, so that friends can catch up and to make sure fellow moms of young ones don’t feel so damn alone.

We’ve done activism our way. We’ve redefined it while redefining ourselves.

Pink knitted pussy hats. Quilted protest signs. Glitter bombs. Political potlucks with postcards. The Resistance is female – creative, coordinated, and pissed as hell.

Perhaps we’ve all thrown ourselves headlong into this movement – changing our lives, our relationships, our careers, our futures – because we finally saw the impact of our lives’ worth of being overlooked and undervalued on November 8, 2016.

And maybe that’s why Dr. Ford’s tender “Does that work for you?” struck us all so much, too. She was all of us, for that moment. Apologizing for her needs. Wanting to be helpful. Wanting to increase her value. Wanting to be respected. And willing to twist herself up in knots to do all of those things – to no avail.

Because of course Grassley was there to dismissively remind her that she – and we – are doing it wrong. (You know, every time we start to forget how terrible they are, they remind us, don’t they? It’s awful and helpful all at the same time.)

For those of us that are part of a movement that’s powered and fueled by women who have been discounted their entire lives, it’s not particularly surprising that the entire movement has been, too.

It is actually pretty motivating.

Because come November, I think it will be hard to dismiss us.

Does that work for you?

Does that work for you all?

It sure works for me. You, too?

Then let’s get to work.


Actions:

Tuesday: Help North Dakota Native Americans Vote

You may have heard that the Supreme Court recently upheld a North Dakota law that does not accept voter IDs without a street address. That law has the effect of disenfranchising thousands of Native Americans who live on reservations – and don’t have street addresses, but instead use PO Boxes.

It’s infuriating that we have a political party in America that tries everything it can to disenfranchise people. But that’s where we are.

But here’s the inspiring thing: because tribes are sovereign nations, they can create their own street addresses. So, by God, that’s what they’re going to do. The plan is still taking shape, but it involves representatives from the tribes being at all polling locations on election day, ready with tribal letterhead and the ability to give them an ID with their street address on the spot.

Folks can also get IDs in advance, of course – and demand has been so high that the machine they use for creating the IDs overheated and started melting them!

Immediately when I heard about this I knew that some of you all would want to know how to help. The Native American Rights Fund (which has provided legal assistance to Indian tribes, organizations, and individuals nationwide since 1971) is collecting donations to help with this effort. A private donor will be matching funds up to $25k. If you’d like to help, go to their Rapid Voting Rights Response by going to https://www.narf.org/help-nd-voters/ and clicking on the “donate” button at the bottom.

Wednesday: Vote With Me

Sometimes a new app just … blows things out of the water.

That’s the case with Vote With Me. If you’ve not heard of it before, prepare to be impressed.

It’s a free app that once downloaded onto your phone (and with your permission, of course) will sync your contacts with information in the publicly-available voter database. It uses that info to find out which of your contacts can vote in upcoming elections – including which folks are in highly contested races (which is indicated with a little fire symbol).

Then it gives you a sample text for you to edit or send as-is, reminding your friend or contact to vote. And there you have it. Done.

On its own, that’s fantastic. But it gets better!

Remember when I said that social pressure is one of the best ways to increase voter turnout? And that friend-to-friend social pressure is even better? Yeah, VWM has you covered.

How? Because it gives you past voter data for everyone in your network. It tells you how many times Aunt Bea has voted and how many midterm elections your sister has missed. (This is all public information, by the way – VWM just makes it easy for you to find and use it.) That means you can – with authority – send your friends a text letting them know that YOU WILL KNOW if they voted in this election or not. And if they don’t vote they owe you a beer. Or a coffee. Or cake.

Whatever.

I love it when technology meets democracy! Dang cool app. You should download it today. Go to https://votewithme.us to learn more.

(And if you want to watch an interview with the founder, who was part of the fix-it team for Healthcare.gov, head over to this youtube link. Smart guy!)

Thursday: Look up your ballot in advance

In most states, there’s more on the ballot than just the key races that folks are talking about. Constitutional amendments, ballot initiatives, judges – there are all kinds of races and issues on the ballot that you don’t hear a lot about before election day.

But there’s no reason to get caught at the polling booth wondering if you should vote Yes or No on Amendment X or Proposition Q when there are great resources to help you know what’s on your ballot in advance.

Ballotpedia has a great sample ballot lookup. But my new favorite this cycle is Crooked Media’s Vote Save America sample ballot service. Not only do you get a simple description of the candidate or issue, you get a list of who’s in favor of the proposition and who’s against it. Nice! And my favorite feature? You can save your preferences to either print or send to your email! It’s super simple.

A note, too, on judicial elections. Most (if not all) state bar associations provide ratings on the judges you’ll find on your ballot. Judges make lots, and lots, and lots of decisions. Be an informed voter by looking at a sample ballot (Vote Save America’s sample ballot includes the judges’ names – but not their ratings) and researching them before you go to the polls. Again, most state bar associations provide those ratings in advance, so it’s just a matter of looking them over before you head to the polls. You can find your state bar association website here. (Or if you’re in Missouri, head over here).

Friday: Text for the Win!

We’ve talked about both phone and text banking – both of which you can do from your own home on your own time.

One of the best things about texting is that you can send out hundreds of texts in a short amount of time – and you can do that while you’re watching t.v., or cooking dinner, or on your lunch break.

If there isn’t a campaign that’s local to you that needs help with texting, consider signing up with Red2Blue. Using their Relay platform, you use your computer – making it easier and faster to type, and ensuring that your personal phone number won’t be associated with the campaign. (They use a centralized phone number.) They have active campaigns from Thursday through Sunday, and you can watch a demo here.

Check it out!


P.S.: If you want to help support this work (and help me “keep the lights on,” so to speak) you can do so:

via Patreon at
https://www.patreon.com/smalldeedsdone

or via paypal at
https://www.paypal.me/smalldeeds

My deepest gratitude in advance.


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!

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