A few nights ago Jose and I were overseas visiting our daughter, an army dentist. We had a long conversation about misogyny, patriarchy, power, and the realities women face just for being…women.
No matter our ages, my experience continues to be that we all have so many hard stories. For me, the deepest pain is the patriarchy’s pervasiveness (and often subtleness) all tangled up in almost every part of culture.
While I felt so grateful for our raw and real conversation, I also couldn’t help but notice that deep pit in my stomach, an ache as a mother wanting better for our future.
The irony is that we had no idea when we went to bed that night, 15 hours ahead of Denver time, that we’d wake up to news of 50 years of progress and precedent blown up in a single conservative supermajority supreme court swoop.
It was leaked that it was coming, but reality is a brutal blow.
Watching the hypocrisy of increasing federal gun rights and dismantling women’s rights in the same week, hearing people throw God’s name around as a victory march t(T)rump card, to be rejoicing brutal restrictions that directly harm communities of color and people without financial resources has caused so many of us to feel like Handmaid’s Tale isn’t so far off.
It has also spurred a true fear of “what’s next?” especially for the LGBTQ+ community, whose basic human rights have been hard-won and now feel deeply fragile.
While many are celebrating, it’s knocked many more of us to our knees. And yes, many of us are people of faith, too.
It’s left so many terrified of what’s next.
It’s made us feel sick about what Christianity has come to represent.
It’s made us question, “What can we really do to change this course that appears to be picking up speed?” (I heard Glennon Doyle refer to this season of history as “The Great Backslide” and it describes the last chunk of years so well).
After years of writing publicly and advocating for equality, shifting power, untangling from the lies of white/Christian/male/straight/economic supremacy, and abortion—including my own when I was 17—I’m asking myself this question today in a new way: What’s my part to play now, with all my current limitations, in this Great Backslide?
We are not powerless.
This is not completely beyond us.
It can feel like it, but it’s so not.
The great backslide doesn’t have to sweep us away, too.
There’s a whole bunch of humans across a multitude of differences and faiths and realities and experiences who can—and are—rising up together, not with a false or thready hope but rather a deep and prevailing commitment to create a more healthy, whole, free, and equitable society for everyone. Everyone. Every.one. Every one.
That shouldn’t be that complicated but unfortunately it always has been.
Equity remains the path of most resistance because of its threat to oppressive power and control.
Despite this painful societal sliding back, together we can dig in our heels, anchor in what we know to be true, and make sure we’re not taken back, too.
It makes me think that a few things are needed right now to make it in this next season.
- Grieve and ground. Anger, rage, fear, disorientation are all parts of grief; we can feel all the feels and also ground in our core values, what we know to be true, what we believe and why. We’ve got to let ourselves express the pain and find ways to stay healthy and rooted.
- Strengthen and empower womxn of all ages and experiences, in absolutely every way we can—check in, support, love, wonder about, fund, sponsor, encourage, buoy, hold space, catalyze, inspire, connect.
- Vote with ballots, feet, and funding. Local and state laws matter. On-the-ground organizations who know what they’re doing need support, especially BIPOC-led ones. Leave communities that perpetuate unhealthy patriarchal power; they’ll never die until people quit going and giving to them.
- Play our unique part. I’m trying to not to look at what I should be doing based on the prevailing energy out there, but really consider—what is my particular part to play given who I am and where I’m at in my life and what I can offer. Each contribution matters, no matter how small or big.
- Nurture communal practices that sustain us (or, back to #1, together). They want us to break down, to give up, to submit, to shut up, to wear out, to let go, to splinter off. We’ve got to take care of ourselves and each other and utilize tools and strategies and spiritual and healing community practices that are subversive, embodied, connected, and resilient—the kind of wisdom women have always brought to the table.
I will not go back.
We will not go back.
No, the great backslide will not take us with it.