It’s been a week since the election and the thing I thought would never happen, happened: my candidate lost and I went down the wormhole of internet click bait. By clicking I felt as if I was taking action.
I signed online petitions, watched satirical videos, and became a member of Pantsuit Nation. I was angry and each click was a middle finger, a tap to close my bleeding heart. I found myself falling into the abyss of “what now?” and watched fear seep in. With fear, comes restriction and I have never found restriction to be a great initiator of creativity. Instead, restriction makes me want to turn away from writing and organize my closet.
A week ago, I took a stand against restriction, against misogyny, xenophobia, and for women, for inclusion. I voted last Tuesday and then I rode fifty miles on my bicycle with my “I voted today” sticker front and center on my helmet. Later in the day, I went to my parents’ house ready for election night victory wearing a “The future is female” t-shirt. And then I watched as the country turned red. My party’s cool blue only on the fringes.
Every altruistic thought, intention, and months of on-my-knees prayers in my bathroom under the skylight in view of the moon had resulted in…failure. I turned to Facebook and the wormhole sucked me in. I saw my feelings reflected in my friends’ horror and I entered the conversation. A fellow writer friend of mine posted a call to action, “…Grieve. Then dry your tears. Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights…” I responded:
Because of Trump I’ve already had several explicit conversations with my nearly sixteen-year old twin sons about ungentlemanly behavior.
Their father and I conduct ourselves with civility and kindness. Yet, the office of President of the United States is an automatic model for our youth. I am deeply concerned as a parent. As a woman, I am deeply concerned about healthcare and Planned Parenthood.
Two men responded.
Man #1: I don’t condone Trumps actions and he did apologize. I wonder did you have the same talk to your children about the husband of the Democratic nominee for president, a former president himself?
Me: Sir, I certainly have. Bad behavior by one does not excuse another’s. I wonder why you are concerning yourself with my mothering ability.
Man #1: Just curious if you were biased like most. Not concerned with your parenting at all. But as said wondered if it was a bias comment since you failed to mention the Clinton side but did mention the president selects behavior on a social media
Man #2: I was thinking the same thing as [man #1].
Me: As it happens, my oldest child was two and my twins not yet born when Clinton was impeached in 1998. Bias is unavoidable, as we view others from our own, unique lens of experience.
Conversations like this (which was actually quite civil) are happening all over the internet. But for me, it wasn’t satisfying- regardless that the two men responding to my comment seemed interested in a different point of view and man #2 confessed his assumptions about me, someone he doesn’t know.
Yes, I was happy to sign those petitions, got a much needed laugh or two from the videos, and was heartened by the stories on Pantsuit Nation. Also, it appears I am marching on Washington in January. But with all that click bait- I wasn’t writing very much. In fact, a significant decrease in my creative output occurred. Instead of my steadfast “write two hours a day and read two hours a day” I was scanning Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram three hours a day. It was twenty minutes here, ten minutes there- minute by minute I was giving my time and my voice away. I was mute, spinning in place.
There is significant danger in feeling futile. Futility leads to apathy and if that happens, why make art at all? Being an artist- a writer, is already hard enough. So many of us create regardless of financial reward, if we feel that our art doesn’t make a difference, why write at all?
I woke up today and decided to re-phrase Trump’s rhetorically offensive “Take the country back.” I’m taking my time back, my voice back- so that I can contribute to the feminist narrative. I have essays to write, a book to finish editing, a magazine to help get to print, and classes to teach. Not to mention children to feed, bills to pay, and a dog to walk. A bike to ride.
For those artists among us, our art is our action.
Now go make something.