Feminism is back, with a vengeance, and you can thank Donald Trump for that. No, seriously. The pussy-grabbing scam artist, ignoramus, and vulgarian with zero government experience, who ran on “Lock her up!” and gold-plated racism, won the White House against a former US senator and secretary of state, a woman with many progressive and pro-woman positions who also happened to be sane and the most qualified candidate in living memory—and, adding insult to injury, who got more votes! It was the loudest wake-up call since alarm clocks were invented. Even plenty of women who didn’t like Hillary Clinton could see the problem with a “Hillary Sucks but Not Like Monica” T-shirt. The Trump campaign was like overhearing your co-workers and finding out that, while they might be polite to your face, they all agreed you were an incompetent moron who was sleeping with the boss—oh, and by the way, there’s blood coming out of your wherever.
Women have worked incredibly hard to come as far as they have. For the last 36 years, we’ve gotten more bachelor’s degrees than men. We’ve pushed our way—sometimes even litigated our way—into male-dominated jobs, from auto manufacturing and policing to the military and Congress. In 2017, for the first time, the majority of students entering medical school were female. Despite statistics showing stalled careers, unequal pay, male violence, and the persistence of the double day, we invested in hope. Think how much better our lives are than our mothers’ and grandmothers’, we told ourselves. Our daughters’ lives will be better still. It’s as though women’s liberation were a kind of conveyor belt, humming along automatically. There was no need, really, to get all angry and hostile and man-hating, or to use antiquated terms like “women’s liberation,” with all it implied about the sweeping nature of our subjection and the wild collective energy needed to escape it.
That’s over. The Women’s March set the tone for the resistance on the first full day of the Trump regime—by some measures the largest march in American history, from Washington, DC, and other major cities to small towns in the deep-red states. Who now remembers the male pundits who claimed that calling it a “Women’s March” would discourage men from attending, even though, as they were repeatedly reminded, men were officially invited? (I saw many there.) The name was the point: We’re running this show. This is about our issues—all of them. You be the auxiliaries, for a change. Women set the tone for the year—none of this “Let’s wait and see what Trump does, maybe he’s not so bad, and anyway, infrastructure!” Women continued to do the lioness’s share of political activism as the year went on: showing up at town halls, sending those postcards, making those phone calls, hosting those Huddles (the local meetings that came out of the march), and doing all that grassroots organizing. According to the app Daily Action, 86 percent of active callers to Congress were women—particularly middle-aged women, the most overlooked people in Punditland. Good old Mom, so boring, so ordinary, so unphotogenic! A lot of them were big Hillary supporters, and I’m still waiting for the major-media coverage of how they feel and what they think. (“Tune in tonight, when we go to Teaneck, New Jersey, to check in with Debbie Levine and her book club—one year later, how are they coping?”) But I suppose that won’t happen as long as there are small-town diners full of angry white men in MAGA hats.