Political talking heads slicing and dicing Nov. 2’s election results had previously declared this to be the year of the Republican rightwing woman. It wasn’t quite. Still, it’s a dagger to the heart of social justice feminism that the nation’s first two women of color elected governor are not women who support women’s rights to economic and reproductive justice–the two fundamental building blocks of women’s power and agency in this world. We have a lot of work to do.
It’s our job to find the opportunity–to carpe the chaos. To be a beacon of light when so many of our leaders are co-opted rather than courageous, and to take the initiative without delay. Post-election regrouping with its inevitable jockeying for power is the perfect launching pad for future victories. On the positive side, the Colorado ballot initiative that would have given personhood rights to the fertilized egg but not to the woman failed by a three-to-one margin. So let’s build on that to foster the paradigm shift in gender power that is sorely needed.
Paradigm shifts don’t happen in moments of stability. They occur during periods of upheaval, times when the tectonic plates of our lives shift and make things feel chaotic. Wars, revolutions, famine, drought, earthquakes, economic depressions, diseases like HIV/AIDS, social justice movements—these all cause basic social turbulence. Sometimes “normal” patterns are interrupted because of a technological innovation, such as the wheel, the printing press, the automobile, the television, the pill, the cell phone, the Internet, Twitter. As women gain reproductive and economic equality, the changing gender power balance creates substantial chaos.
Discussion Question: Think about when you’ve been in a chaotic situation, in work or in your personal life. Did you retreat, or did you step forward and own it, rewriting the rules and setting new parameters?