Women’s March on Washington

Oh Wow. What a whirlwind it’s been since we’ve last been in touch. I was unable to write to you last week with the election results so raw in my body. I had to nourish myself. Go to the beach. Sit in the sand. Stare at the ocean. Lay down. Cry. Breathe. Cry some more. And try and find the positive in all that is happening.

While it’s been a tumultuous week-and-a-half, I can honestly say that I feel stronger and more encouraged about the women’s movement than ever. I see women organizing. I see men speaking out for women. I see women speaking out for women. I see women speaking out for racial justice, immigrant rights, inclusiveness and the continued fight for women’s rights.

I’m not going to lie. This election has taken me down on my knees in despair. The humiliation that I felt as I watched half of our country vote for a man who has denigrated women repeatedly through his words and physical assaults was heartbreaking. To further insult to injury, many of these voters were women. In case you haven’t heard, 53 percent of white women voters voted for the current president elect.

Wow.

While I cannot claim to fully understand the motivation for a woman to vote for someone who so clearly denigrates women, it does show me how “normalized” this behavior is in our society – enough so that a woman would overlook this at the voting booth. Or maybe she’s not overlooking it? Maybe as women, we believe these things about ourselves.

My guess is that it’s a combination and that saddens me.

This is not to point fingers at sisters who voted for the president elect. I am certain they/you have good reasons. But this is a call to action for all of us to re-format and redefine what society says about us and what we say about ourselves.

This is a moment to redefine what it means to be a female leader in the 21st century.

Hillary took so much heat for being a woman in power. People do not like women in power. It challenges the status quo and makes people uncomfortable. Women are judged harshly in leadership. Plenty of studies show this to be true.

Her one major mistake with the email server turned into 100 stories and made her a “dishonest woman,” which studies show is judged much more harshly than a dishonest man. Obviously.

Although a feminist and advocate for women’s rights, Hillary has had to walk a lot of her path “the man’s way.” She has done this in order to avoid some of the cultural judgment for being a woman in leadership. The trouble with this is that it doesn’t work.

It was not until her concession speech in the 2008 primary, and again in her concession speech last week in this general election that she really was able to show up most authentically and be forthright about her stance for women and girls. Why only in the moments of losing can a woman bring her true convictions to the fore?

Obviously these were not the first times she did that. She was the one to bring to the fore the fact that “human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights.” She put this conversation on the map and into global consciousness back in 1995 at the United Nations Fourth World Congress on Women in Beijing. And then of course she has been an advocate for women and children throughout her entire career.

But it’s interesting to note that on the presidential campaign trail, she tended to not emphasize her gender as if it didn’t have any significance. This is something I think all too many women in leadership, particularly those in high-level leadership, do.

I don’t agree with it. 

I think being a woman in this world is different than being a man in this world. Our lived experience is different. And that should be honored, not hidden.

When our feminine voices are missing at the tables of leadership, the truth of our lives is also missing. Law and public policy therefore never reflect the truth of our lives and therefore never truly support us to thrive.

It’s no joke that we are living in a man’s world. DT’s cabinet considerations are all white men. White men, and men in general, are not “the enemy.” Of course not. I’ve got a husband and a son who I love. I’ve got a father and brothers and cousins and nephews who I love. I’ve got male friends who I love.

What this is about right now is shining the light on the truth of our lives. Speaking out about where we’ve been abused and denigrated. Speaking out about where there is inequality and injustice.

Anyone watching “Good Girls Revolt” on Amazon?
This is the story of women at Newsweek in 1970 awakening to the fact that they were being discriminated against when they were relegated to low-level positions even though they were often better educated and more talented than their male counterparts who were given the positions of reporters. (Women weren’t allowed to be reporters.)

The show documents the women finding their voice to speak up and organize together to sue the magazine for gender discrimination. This was the first lawsuit of its kind. I’m finding it very inspiring.
Although I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster these past 10 days, I am feeling hopeful.

Women are gathering and organizing. I was on two phone calls this week to plan for the Women’s March on Washington taking place on Saturday, January 21st in Washington D.C. (This is the day after the presidential inauguration.)

This is not a protest march. It is a march FOR. A march for love. A march for equality. A march for peace. A march for justice. A march for women.

It doesn’t matter who you voted for. It’s a march about using our voice and speaking up about the importance of our lives. This is a march to rise up in solidarity with other women and male allies. If you believe in the protection of our rights, our health, our safety and our families, I hope you’ll join us.
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Tabby Biddle, M.S.Ed., is a leading voice and advocate for advancing women’s leadership and the human rights of women and girls. She is the author of the bestselling book, Find Your Voice: A Woman’s Call to Action, and a Leadership Ambassador with Take The Lead, a community of women leaders committed to creating gender parity in leadership across all sectors by 2025. Learn more at tabbybiddle.com.