The Vow of the Nasty Woman

On November 9th, I woke up at 5 am, too excited to go back to sleep. I squinted at my phone to confirm that Secretary Clinton would soon become Madame President and that we had the landslide needed to say once and for all that love trumps hate.

When I saw what had unfolded while I slept, I was swamped by a feeling we’ve all become too familiar with recently, the disorienting sensation of reality jumping off the rails. Into the predawn darkness I whispered a sentence I never imagined would pass my lips, “Donald Trump is going to be our next president.”

A man who thinks he can grab a woman’s ‘pussy’ without her consent, a man who presented no realistic policy proposals, a man endorsed by the KKK, will soon be the leader of my country.

Like a telescope zooming outward, my focus expanded: an estimated 61.2 million Americans — our friends, neighbors, and family — voted for Donald Trump. 61.2 million of us listened to his vitriol and wanted him to represent us on the global stage. 61.2 million Americans chose a man without a day of political experience rather than a hugely qualified woman who (despite the fact that for the first time in half a century, a presidential election was held without the safeguard of the Voting Rights Act) still managed to clinch the popular vote, if not the votes needed to secure the Electoral College.

As alternating waves of shock and sadness rolled over me, I kept coming back to one thought: if you are a woman, there is no way to win. In a world where you are hated, there is never a right way to be. Politely and patiently advocating to be treated as human beings worthy of equality and respect has gotten us here, to a place where one of the most inexperienced candidates in history, running a campaign fueled by hate, waltzed into the White House, in large part by virtue of being a white man.

Jill Filipovic wrote: “This election is such a deeply felt insult to women across the United States. The message is just so obvious: You can be the best by a long shot, but sorry sweetie, that ain’t enough… At least now we have a stark example of just how good a woman can be and still lose to a man who is deeply and fundamentally bad.”

For so long, many feminists hoped if we just played by the rules — the constantly shifting rules — we would eventually succeed. If we were nice enough, accommodating enough, diligent enough, our worth would someday become evident and we would finally get our fair shot. Well, as the past week has made evident, fuck that. It’s time to become, as Trump would say, “such a nasty woman.”

Nasty Woman Vow

I vow to be a Nasty Woman.
I vow to fight like hell every step of the way.
I vow to be brave.
I vow to be bold.
I vow to be ferocious.
I vow to let my fury light the way for others.

Women have played by the rules for way too long and it’s not gotten us far enough. It’s time to shred the rule book and use it to light the fire that will burn the patriarchy to the ground. It’s time to inaugurate a new era of no-holds-barred guerilla feminism. An amplified feminism that is about refusing to ‘play nice’, refusing to let things slide, refusing to give one solitary fuck about being seen as a feminist killjoy. A feminism that means refusing to back down when society tells you it’s time to compromise. A feminism that doesn’t care if it’s impolite to talk politics at the dinner table. A feminism that redoubles its commitment to center the experiences of POC, LGBTQ+ people, immigrants, disabled and neurodivergent people, and other marginalized minorities.

A feminism that is about relentlessly, unapologetically calling out every act of bigotry that you see. It’s insisting that no, it’s not okay to ‘agree to disagree’ about oppression. It’s about white people like me working to eradicate the rampant racism and internalized misogyny in our community that led to 63% of white men and 52% of white women voting for Trump. It’s about throwing our money, our time, and our voice behind organizations like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU and others who will be supporting the people on the front lines in the coming years. It’s about using whatever privilege we have, in whatever way we can, to protect those most at risk. The Nasty Woman Vow is about becoming a tidal wave of fury; The Nasty Woman Vow is our lodestar, our promise, our battle cry.

We are watching the death throes of the patriarchy and it is ugly. And it is dangerous. People will suffer tremendously before it draws its last breath. We must meet every inch of growing darkness with the incandescent light of our rage. We have to push back against this tide and keep the words of the Nasty Woman Vow in our hearts. We will not be silenced. We will not be ignored. And we will not be defeated. It’s time to become the feminist banshees of their worst nightmares. It’s time to get nasty.

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