In the wake of Donald Trump's astonishing presidential victory over Hillary Clinton, the prospect of talking to your family about feminism may be a daunting one. Although most predicted that Clinton would sweep into the White House come January, Trump managed to win 290 electoral votes on Nov. 8 — despite the Republican president-elect's history of sexist remarks and behavior, xenophobic comments about immigration, and frankly baffling position on climate change. (And that's just the tip of the rapidly-melting iceberg.) Add in the fact that Clinton actually won the popular vote, and you have a recipe for tension at the dinner table during the upcoming holidays.
It's tempting to stay out of it. What's the point of engaging in debates about gender equality or politics when the election results made it clear that Americans are more polarized than ever? It's up to you, obviously; if you're just trying to have a nice Thanksgiving or holiday dinner with your family and don't feel like talking about politics, do exactly that. But if you're as furious as many people are after Trump's election, it's more important than ever to speak out about feminism. Here are five reasons to talk about feminism with your family over the holidays this year.
It's More Effective Than Posting Online
Research shows that users tend to interact with people that have similar political views online; indeed, this confirmation bias could be why so many people from both political parties were shocked by how close the election results were. So posting about feminism and politics on social media may feel good, but it's not likely to change any minds. On the other hand, people tend to develop preferences for the familiar. Knowing someone who is LGBTQ, for example, has been shown to change people's stances on issues facing the LGBTQ community, according to research conducted by Gallup.
In that vein, it's important to talk about why feminism is important and demonstrate that its radical, misandrist reputation is undeserved. Who is more likely to change Uncle Carl's perception of gender equality: a feminist celebrity's latest open letter, or a member of his family whom he actually knows and trusts?
It May Inspire Younger Generations
It's difficult to overstate the importance of the first time you heard someone speak out for gender equality. If you were raised by feminists, you probably heard it from your parents, but if you grew up in a household where feminism wasn't the norm, it likely came from an outside source. As annoying as it may be to debate politics with your uncle at a holiday dinner, standing up for gender equality could wind up influencing the younger generations at the table — especially if your family is from a Trump-heavy state.
They Might Agree With You
The 2016 election had more unexpected twists than a nighttime soap opera, with people in both parties waffling on their choice of candidates. However, if you're looking to commiserate with someone after the election, the numbers are on your side. As mentioned above, Trump won the electoral vote, but Clinton won the popular vote by a margin of hundreds of thousands. More than 61 million Americans voted for Clinton; chances are, at least one of them is a fellow family member who wants to rant about the results as much as you do.
This Was A Historic Year
No matter who you or you family members voted for, this year was historic for feminism. It's safe to say most feminists probably didn't vote for Trump, but people don't have to call themselves feminists to acknowledge that Clinton's nomination was a huge stride forward in women's rights. She might not be our next president, but it's the closest a woman has ever come to leading the White House — that's something to celebrate across party lines.
We Can't Allow Sexism, Racism, Ableism, And So Many Other Things That Are Not OK To Normalize
John Oliver said it best on Monday, in a segment of Last Week Tonight: Our current situation is "not normal." There's no telling what's ahead, but in all likelihood, the administration of a man who said, alternately, that women should be punished for getting an abortion and healthcare providers punished for performing them, isn't going to advance gender equality. With Trump wielding such a powerful influence over the country, it's more important than ever to remind others that discrimination shouldn't be the status quo. Sexism isn't harmless, nor is it something women should get over. Unless feminists continue to speak out for gender equality, however, these attitudes very well could become the new normal. And that can't happen.
Buckle in, everyone. It's going to be a long four years.
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