Heartbroken and resolute

Dear President Trump,

So it appears that the US white male patriarchy has a reprieve for (at least) another four years as far as the presidency goes. I know there hasn’t been any real doubt about this for the last month or so, and really, it was probably just a relatively small handful of us who thought one of the well-qualified women in the Democratic primary pack might break loose and take it. Maybe for most Americans it offered some diversion from the same-old, same-old white men on the stage to have an openly gay man, a few people of color, including some women, and some white women up there, but did any of these folks ever have more than impossibly long odds ascribed to them? Whether right or wrong, the palpable fear is, and has been all along, that no one but another old white man can effectively take you on and have a prayer of wresting the presidency away from you.

I read an NPR article today at lunch about Elizabeth Warren’s campaign and how she’s not been able to carve a viable path to the nomination. One of her women supporters was quoted as saying:

“I would like to say I’m optimistic, but to be honest, the American people consistently disappoint me, so I’m not that optimistic, but I am hanging on to a little bit of hope.”

And her friend said:

“Same. Honestly, the same.” After a pause she added: “A little heartbroken, yeah. I am.”

I so agree, except that it’s more than a little bit of heartbreak for me. Plus, I keep thinking about all the other women who also ache to finally see a woman elected president, and how, realistically, a lot of them aren’t going to live through this next round of white-boy-in-charge.

Because it’s my go-to when I’m sad, angry, and stressed I’m going to do some math related to all this. Here are the figures for the equation (using 2018 numbers):

  • 327.2 million people in the US (according to the World Bank and who better to keep track of the minions?)
  • 50.52% are women (also according to the World Bank)
  • about 30 million are ages 14 and under (according to Statista.com)
  • 38% of women considered themselves feminists (according to YouGov)
  • 619.7 women per 100,000 die annually (according to the Kaiser Family Foundation)

327.2 x .5052 (women) = 165,301,440 women/girls in the US in 2018

165,301,440 – 30,000,000 (under 15) = 135,301,440 women 15 and over

135,301,440 x .38 (feminists) = 51,414,547 feminist women 15 and over

51,414,547 / 100,000 = 514.145 x 619.7 (death rate) = 318,616 feminist women will likely die annually

318,616 x 4 years = 1,274,464 feminists will likely die during the next four year presidency

Now for the obligatory limitations section of this letter – of course neither identifying as a feminist or death are equally distributed across age groups so this number is likely somewhat high. Also, a lot of girls under 15 no doubt, consider themselves feminists so the final number is obviously very imprecise. Additionally, it’s not possible, given the available data, to say that all feminists feel strongly about wanting a woman to be elected US president in their lifetimes, or even ever, but I’m willing to go out on a limb on this one and say that the vast majority likely do feel some ache over the fact that this has not come to pass and will not come to pass in the foreseeable future. And I’m also willing to bet (a lot) that those feminists who are nearing our species upper age bounds feel this reality especially acutely.

As all this roiled around in my brain today, I kept coming back to a song we sang in choir a few months ago. It’s called “Rise Up” by Andra Day. You can find the whole thing at this website: https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=i%27ll+rise+up+lyrics, but I’m going to include the first verse here because I want you to have the words and I want you to know that we’re going to keep rising up as many times as it takes and that we are going to do it for each other and really, for everyone, past, present, and future.

Rise Up

You’re broken down and tired
Of living life on a merry go round
And you can’t find the fighter
But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out
And move mountains
We gonna walk it out
And move mountains
And I’ll rise up
I’ll rise like the day
I’ll rise up
I’ll rise unafraid
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
And I’ll rise up
High like the waves
I’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousands times again
For you….

May we be safe from life-sapping sexism.
May we be willing to keep pushing for equality.
May we make space for being both tired and resilient.
May we accept that change is often not linear in nature.

Tracy Simpson

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