Women have come a long way since our great-grandmothers won the right to vote. Many of us hoped that this election would be the one that gave us our first female president of the United States. Even though Hillary Clinton carried the lead here in Oakland and in all of California, the rest of the country didn’t feel the same way. It’s a disappointing loss for many of us for several reasons. But now is the time to focus on what we do have, brush ourselves off and work toward the future. Here are some important things to keep in mind.
Celebrate the Victories
The 2016 election may have disappointed those who were hoping for Hillary Clinton to win. But the outcome of many races offered signs of hope and reassurance. Women won some very unexpected races in local elections this year.
Closest to home was the exciting victory of Kamala Harris. The former Attorney General won her bid to replace Senator Barbara Boxer in the U.S. Senate.
Tammy Duckworth also won her Senate seat in Illinois. As the first female disabled veteran to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, her success was inspirational to many.
Catherine Cortez Masto became the first female senator in Nevada. Ilhan Omar became the first Somali-American woman to be elected to the House of Representatives in Minnesota.
Although we have yet to have a female president in office, we should still celebrate the gains that women made in the House and Senate.
Acknowledge Your Triggers
Many women felt triggered by the revelations of Donald Trump talking openly about sexual assault. Even more disturbing were the number of men (and even women) who defended his words as harmless “locker room talk.” Many women have experienced sexual assault and most never report it. Knowing that we elected a president with a history of disrespecting women can bring up feelings of vulnerability and fear.
If you’re not feeling safe right now, know that you have a lot of company. Many women, minorities, LGBT, and disabled individuals are all wondering what the new administration will bring. Now is the time to practice radical self-care. Spend some time avoiding social media if you don’t have a specific support group and avoid the news. Spend more time with your friends. Dedicate yourself to social support, meditation, yoga, nature, and other spiritual or relaxing practices.
Let Yourself Grieve
Here in the Bay Area, we are generally surrounded by well-educated people who accept diversity. You may be feeling shock and disappointment about the fact that so many people in the country are angry and not welcoming to minorities and immigrants. Let yourself grieve the fact that the country is not what you thought it was.
Take time to honor your feelings. Get help of you need it, try and commit to standing up for your beliefs. You can’t control who’s in office, but you can control your own actions. Never underestimate how much impact you can have.
There’s no question that many people are feeling more vulnerable than usual right now. But many are putting their time and money to good work by donating to causes to protect those who may be at risk.
Organizations that help marginalized groups can also use your support right now. The Sexual Minority Alliance of Alameda County provides assistance to LGBTQ youths here in Oakland. There is Planned Parenthood and the DreamCatcher Youth Support Center is a drop-in shelter for homeless teens.
We can’t know what the future holds under the new administration. But it’s important to hold on to our center. Protect yourself and ask for support. Check in if you become too overwhelmed by fears and “what-ifs.” Remember, you still have a lot of power to control your world. Your voice is needed more than ever.