It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.
- Madeleine Albright (from "Daring to Be Ourselves")
Last June, not quite a year ago, I wrote "From Anger to Action: Why Women Must Get Mad" in which I pleaded to those who are sick and tired of the daily abuses of women and girls around the world -- including right here in our own backyard -- to band together and say "Enough is enough!" It struck a chord.
A few weeks later, sensing an opportunity to keep pushing people to listen, I posted "Is America in an Age of Action or Apathy?" where I argued that protesting and feeling connected to a cause or movement is not only beneficial to society, but to one's own personal health. Once again, I listed (and substantiated) all the reasons why women must get mad, and take action.
A lot has happened since then: Occupy Wall Street, deeper unemployment, greater awareness of the lack of government and senior level private sector positions, proposed cuts and programs that would compromise our health and safety and ultra conservatives running rampant referring to women as sluts and comparing us to farm animals. And that's just the short list. Yes, women are really, really mad. Even those who consider themselves "old school conservative Republicans" (as one woman described herself in a New York Times article) have grown weary of being used as pawns in an increasingly nasty political game whose key players are primarily men. (Many are also feeling unhappy that the Obama re-election machine is only now ramping up its efforts to engage women.)
In a recent article, Amy Siskind wrote:
Something has changed. Women, and like-minded men, have finally had it. And it's not only Rush feeling the tremors -- a myriad of misogynistic rats including Bill Maher and Louis C.K. are being forced out of the darkness to face the light of humanity. As President Obama said in a press conference this week: "All decent folks can agree that the remarks that were made don't have any place in the public discourse." And we all, in the end, want to be decent. Don't we?
Something is definitely changing in America, and my heart tells me there is no going back. We are angry and ready for action. But are we angry enough?
I had the honor of attending the Women in the World Summit which convened women from around the world who put a harsh spotlight onto the most pressing issues facing women and girls every day: violence, sexual abuse, unemployment, human trafficking, slavery and lack of education. Problems were discussed and actionable solutions offered. So many of the stories were heart-breaking and yet filled us all with hope. But that hope will be lost forever if we don't stay mad.
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, who almost 20 years ago declared "women's rights are human rights," ended the conference by reminding us that there are huge challenges ahead, and said "... we must be fearless ... committed ... and audacious."
I would have added ... "mad as hell." And remember this: women -- regardless of race, religion, political party, sexual preferences, or age -- have rights. We are all human beings. We should have -- and will have -- equal rights. Stand with me, and other women, we we can put this great big boulder on our shoulders ... and move it forward ... together.
Are you mad enough to get the job done? Here's what you can do right now (and please share with others):
- Go to the 'One Million Pissed-Off Women' page on Facebook and get motivated
- Join the men and women who are organizing the 'Unite Against the War on Women' march (April 28th)
- Start a grassroots campaign for positive change
- Read and be informed about the issues that are affecting us the most
- Work to get rid of "isms" of all kinds: ageism, sexism, racism
- Sit down and have a cup of tea with someone who is on the other end of the political spectrum so you can start to understand each other, and build consensus
- Seek out politicians who share your worldview and anger, and support them
- Run for political office
- Blog, write articles, get others mad and motivated
- Fight for your rights as a woman, as a worker, and as a mother
- If you're unemployed, keep trying to get a job or start your own company (women are the driving force behind the growth of micro-enterprises)
- Get connected to like-minded women on Facebook and websites
- Show our children that change is possible
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Staying connected is a powerful tool: "Friend" me on Facebook and "Tweet" me on Twitter (BGrufferman). For tips on living your best life after 50 visit www.bestofeverythingafter50.com.
Be well . . . and stay mad.
Follow Barbara Hannah Grufferman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/BGrufferman