Taking a break from railing against Donald Trump on her Netflix show to rail against him in written form, Chelsea Handler wrote an open letter to women, urging them to unite against the president-elect. The letter, which was posted to the Thrive Global blog on Sunday, referenced the fact that 53 percent of all white female voters voted for Donald Trump, a man with a history of degrading remarks about women, sexual assault accusations, and policies that will endanger women's health.
In her letter, the comedian and talk show host urged women, particularly white women, to "forget the jealousy. Forget the competitiveness" and focus on the common goal of fighting bigotry:
It’s time to get focused on what really matters...We have a whole generation of girls who are looking at us to see how we treat each other. Let’s show them what the power of being a woman really looks like. Let’s open our arms to each other, and to them. We can do better than this, ladies, and we will during the next four years as we stand up for women, children, the majority vote and American justice against the Trumpian whitemare. I know I can do better, and I will. It starts now.
Handler's letter articulates a sentiment that many have expressed after the election: why didn't women come together to support the first female president and reject a misogynist? The star explains that she feels that the lack of support is due to the "competitiveness that has been imposed upon us because we are treated as a minority and have been taught to tackle, rather than climb." The imposer of the competitiveness is, presumably, patriarchal forces, as was discussed by Irin Carmon in a recent New York Times opinion piece. "If white women of all education levels were more susceptible to Mr. Trump’s nostalgic, macho transactionalism," Carmon wrote, "perhaps it was because they are adjacent to the men who have traditionally enjoyed the most resources and power in society."
Handler's open letter acknowledges that not all women voted for Trump, of course, and notes that black women, for instance, voted overwhelmingly for Hillary. The letter may not explicitly express itself as addressed to white women, but it contains the implication of Handler's early acknowledgment that as the voting demographics showed, more white women supported Trump than women of color.
The fact that Handler takes personal responsibility by saying she will do better — she has, after all, occasionally made cruel jokes and comments about other women — and urges the same from her fellow women is an important rallying cry. I hope that more celebrities take personal responsibility like this, and that they implore those in their demographic or viewership to do the same (it wouldn't hurt if more male celebrities rallied their fellow men to fight against racism and misogyny, either).
Hopefully, essays like Handler's will inspire other celebrities to discuss the election and injustice and use their influence to translate that responsibility to those who will listen to them.