You, like me, are aghast. You don’t know what to say, how to act, how to feel. You had no idea that you needed to even prepare yourself for something like this, so in addition to feeling gutted, you feel like you’ve had the wind knocked out of you. There is a grand injustice in the fact that today, after knowing we as a nation elected Donald Trump as our president, we as women — people who are hated and demeaned so continually in this country — must show up to our jobs and pretend like nothing has happened. We are being asked to pretend like this decision — one that millions of people, including an incomprehensible number of white women, made in good faith — is not a direct assault on our well-being.
Women, if you are in a position to do so: take today off.
It’s a small protest, but it’s a start. Much of this election has centered on women’s roles in the working world. Should we be free from sexual harassment at our jobs? Should we receive equal pay and equal respect? Can we aspire to lead the free world? One way we can respond, now, is to refuse to participate in a nation and economy that does not value our personhood, nor the personhood of anyone who doesn’t identify as a white male. It’s a small protest, but it’s a start.
There’s precedent. Forty years ago, women in Iceland went on strike to demonstrate the worth and stability they brought to their homeland. Banks closed; factories closed; men had to leave their jobs early. Just this week, top government and cultural offices in France stopped working in support of countrywomen protesting the gender pay gap. Yesterday millions of Americans threw their support behind a bigot and demagogue who made no secret of his misogyny, his racism, his hate. If we deserve one thing, it’s one day of radio silence in protest. If you do not have the luxury to take off, treat yourself today with as much kindness as you can. A small protest, yes, but a start.
And even if on Thursday, the facts remain and we know what our country values and whom our country hates, that protest will have meant something. We aren’t insignificant — as women, as minorities, as people feared by the status quo. We are powerful. If not powerful enough this time, next time. If not powerful enough then; after. Unlike the people who fear us — and who fear other races and religions and identities and even the people who have come to hate themselves — we aren’t scared.
You’ll have a chance to rest on Wednesday, to take care of yourself, to process what this country thinks of what is supposedly the “other.” And on Thursday, you’ll wake up refreshed but angry. Use that energy that you saved on Wednesday to fuel the next four years, the next eight years, the next 50 years. Write to your congresspeople. Volunteer at Planned Parenthood. Get active with the political party that you support. Give a Trump administration hell and never back down. Use the anger and hurt that you feel today, take one day to indulge it, and then don’t give up turning that anger into action until Trump’s years —and the years this country has spent hating women and minorities — are through.
It’s a small protest, but it’s a start. And then it’s time to get to work.