Sit down with me, girlfriend. We need to talk.
It’s almost like middle school all over again, this world of social media. We’re fractured into separate groups — tiny little familiar tribes of people who think and talk and dress and possibly look like us. And with some kind of eighth-grade mean girl mentality, we’re tearing each other down. I’ve seen the posts on Facebook and Twitter. Don’t try to pretend it’s not happening, girl. We all know it is. We’re all doing it.
Some of you from your camp are saying, I voted Biblically! There was no other choice! and you mean this truly and with no vitriol. And others of us are saying, How could you? How could you betray all of us this way? and we really mean it — we’re hurt and confused.
Some of you are telling us that we’ll go to hell for voting for Hillary, that you can’t believe we don’t care about the unborn.
Some of us are calling you racist, saying you sold us out.
You tell us to Get over it. Stop whining, don’t be a sore loser. We say We can’t! We’re hurting. And angry. And it’s your fault.
Women, we’re better than this.
We have to be better than this. We have a world to run.
Studies show that empowered women — empowered economically, socially through policy, creatively, etc — elevate their communities entirely, making life better for everyone. But if we’re so busy with our own mean-girl in-fighting, how can we elevate each other, much less our families and communities?
Ladies, it’s up to us. Peace is up to us. Justice is up to us. We need to be the ones to have the hard conversations, to find a way to work together in our disagreement, to lead our different tribes toward a common goal. There is some serious shit on the line here.
We need to be the kinds of Jesus Freaks that Jesus would want us to be. We need to listen more, accuse less. Learn from each other instead of calling each other names. And we especially need to listen to those who are not in power — so if you’re straight, cis, white, and Christian like me, we need to listen to our sisters who are not straight, white, cis, and Christian. And we need to listen without defensiveness, with wanting to correct them, to tell them how they should experience their own experience. We don’t get to do that.
Listening like this takes Christ-like humility. It takes a willingness to leave our own agendas off to the side, even if for a moment, to make space for someone else to be heard. It has to be a heart-hearing, or it won’t work.
I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s not — it’s crazy hard. And this letter is as much to me as it is to any of you, because I’ve been just as bad about hurling the nasty online. I think we can all agree we’re doing it out of pain, and if we can start listening to each other’s pain, maybe we can get better.
It’s something, I think, that women are completely capable of doing, and it’s up to us to do it. Here’s three ways you help move toward healing, so we women can do our work of making the world a better place for everyone:
LISTEN — DON’T YELL — ONLINE
Much of the heat and vitriol is being tossed about online, and it’s easy to get caught up in the fray. I’m not saying to not post your opinion. But I am asking you to do it responsibly. Check your sources and make sure you’re not linking to a fringe site. You might have a great point to make, but link to respectable sites if you want to be taken seriously. This goes for both sides.
Even better? Ask questions. If something is really bothering you, ask for help understanding a point of view, and do so without the need to argue. Just listen — you don’t have to agree, but it is your responsibility to learn.
Most of all: don’t feed the trolls. They’re assholes. Do engage in honest, respectful dialogue with others who are working toward reconciliation and understanding.
PRACTICE SELF CARE
It’s hard to be kind and open if you’re red-hot and raw. This election has everyone on edge, and a peaceful retreat might be just what the doctor ordered for everyone. Maybe it’s a simple bubble bath, or maybe it’s a week-long social media fast. Whatever it takes, girl, make it happen. We all know it’s better for everyone.
DO MORE THAN JUST A SAFETY PIN
The safety-pin trend is something I’m participating in, but it’s important to listen to our sisters of color who are calling this out as just another hip trend. Let’s not jump on the apathy bandwagon. I wear a safety pin, but I also create a safe space here on this blog and in real life for marginalized people. It’s important to get activated beyond just symbolic measures. It will also remove feelings of helplessness you might be feeling.
If you’re not of the safety-pin ilk, that’s cool. You can get active, too. Have a conversation with women who feel differently than you. Invite them for coffee and ask them to explain why they’re scared. When they do, rather than dismissing those fears, promise them that you’ll help keep them safe. And if the opportunity ever presents itself, make good on that promise.
ONE MORE THING…
Regardless of which camp you’re in, I’d love to hear what you are going to do to move toward peace and reconciliation with women who voted differently than you. Please tell me in the comments.
Normally, I let most comments stay unless they are absolutely disgusting. I simply don’t respond to emotional bait or asinine comments, because I think they speak for themselves. I’ll respond when I need to clarify or support a poster, or when dialogue interests me and I have time (which isn’t often).
However because of the nature of this particular post, and because it’s a step in the direction of peace and reconciliation, and because while none of us is going to be perfect at this, comments that I deem to be asinine, divisive, or troll-ish will be removed.
I hope for A LOT of comments that are geared toward peace.
Before you say it, because I know someone will: A long time ago, before the primaries, I downloaded the Drumphinator after watching John Oliver’s hysterical diatribe. I did so for my own entertainment, and I honestly have no regrets about that, nor do I have a desire to remove it. However, it does also change the President-Elect’s name to his family name even the way you see my blog posts. This is unintentional on my part, and I don’t know how to change it. And we’ve all got more important things to do, so.