Vindication in 2017

I haven’t cried yet. I’ve begun to think that means something is wrong.

Let’s start from the beginning. This is going to be a post about our current state of political affairs. I suppose that is a disclaimer; I know this is not a topic I typically write about here.

But there it is. Our country didn’t elect the person I expected. It elected a person who has spoken words against my gender, my ideologies and my belief in the promise of a right and just world. A person who has disparaged communities I believe are necessary and invaluable to the fabric of this country. And this person has been unapologetic to the point of victory.

But I haven’t cried yet. A lot of my friends have. I think I remain in shock. A months-long shock.

And that shock permeated my response to today’s marches across the country and around the world. I knew I wanted to do something. I know I want to stand in solidarity. I am so proud of my friends and women of the world who are enveloping their cities and towns. But I struggled, and have struggled, with how to lend my voice to this movement in a way that felt right to me.

A few days ago as I was considering this, a random thought popped into my head. A Vindication of the Rights of Women. I know. Friends have laughed at me. Of course I would think about a tome from the 18th century. But it came and it felt right. I purchased it yesterday from an independent bookstore and started reading it today. I’ll be honest: my English major mind hasn’t been stretched like this in a while. It’s been a challenge. But reading–and writing–felt like the right way to lend my voice to the movement. And I’m going to keep reading (and I’ll do my best to keep writing).

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Because we have to stay informed. Because vindication is an interesting word. Today I realized vindicate is a beautiful word. Sometimes I think people only focus on the vengeful connotation. But the lovely Merriam-Webster reminds me of some other meanings: “to free from allegation or blame,” “to provide justification or defense for,” “to protect from attack or encroachment.” And I think that is the rallying call for today. Women–and men–across the country are vindicating their community.

And you know what’s really crazy? Mary Wollstonecraft wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Women in 1792. 1792. I’ve seen photos of posters from today that highlight just how long women have been protesting to protect their rights as American citizens. How many centuries more do women have to provide justification or defense for their rights?

Let’s not answer that. I don’t think I want to cry anymore. It’s time to get to work. I’m working on making my mark. And I am looking forward to the strides our collective voices can make.

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