Donald Trump's campaign felt like an endless threat assault on women's rights— and flabbergastingly offensive to women. And now Trump's first actions as president seem to be bringing all of those ghastly promises into an actual reality. In just the first week, he's set into motion the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and with it affordable access to birth control, the HR-7 bill, which would make it impossible to get an abortion on any insurance plan, even a private one, and the Global Gag Rule, which threatens access to women's healthcare for women across the globe. And all of this is combined with just knowing that someone who bragged — bragged — about grabbing a woman's vagina without her consent was still elected to be the President of the United States of America. The weight of it all is astounding.
"It’s OK to feel shock, hopeless, rage, agitated, angry, hypersensitive, all of it is perfectly fine," says" Clarissa Silva, Behavioral Scientist and author of relationship blog, You're Just A Dumbass, tells Bustle. "Extend that to others, as well. We’re inundated with information all day long. We consume more data and interpretations of that data and it can overwhelm us. Take the time to process the information and develop your own voice rather than accepting someone else’s spin on it. The next time you read an article, just remember that Congress enacts laws, not the president."
If you're sad, confused, angry, sick — be any and all of those things. It's an overwhelming time, and it can feel like every day we wake up and wonder what fundamental right will be encroached or erased next. But you can't spiral into it, instead you need to fight its momentum. And the only way to that is to get active. Taking action erases the hopelessness and eases the despair. It's an empowering choice, so take a minute and gather your thoughts. But then, get going.
Here's where to start:
1 Speak Out Against The Global Gag Rule
I'm so proud that my state's Senator, Jeanne Shaheen, is introducing the Global Health, Empowerment & Rights (HER) Act in order to permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule. Please call your Senator, contact the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121, and say you support it.
3 Donate To A Domestic Violence Fund
If you're feeling an urge to protect vulnerable women, follow that urge. Donate to the National Network To End Domestic Violence.
4 Educate Yourself
This is an assault on your rights, but it's an assault on a lot of others' rights as well. And if you're privileged, you won't be hit the hardest. You need to educate yourself — and that means moving outside of the mainstream media.
"Get educated. Start listening and critiquing the news that we receive," Hauser and International Youth Leadership Council member, Liliana Ascencio tells Bustle. "Attend local events led by communities of color and listen. Reflect on your place in this society and how you have or have not been complacent in the face of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, etc. Maybe you don’t know what these words mean yet, but that’s all part of the learning. Realize that especially if you have lived a life of privilege, it is going to be a challenging process but it is important if you want to make a difference. If you are shy — there are amazing resources on the internet listen to podcasts like Another Round, Intersection, Best of the Left. Read books by activists of color. Spend time talking to your friends of color and hearing about their experiences. Lean into your discomfort and keep yourself to a high standard. Never stop learning and listening. Now is the time, speak up, fight back."
5 Do A Crash Course In Activism
The good part about this embarrassing election and presidency is it's galvanized people out of their inaction. But, if you don't where to start, trying to find a way to help and to orient yourself can be overwhelming. Read books on activism, ask questions, and look around. You'll find ways to get involved.
6 Spread The Word
Talk to your friends. Encourage volunteering, activism, and donation. You're one person, but if you can get five other people involved then that's five times the (wo)man power. Like I said, there are a lot of people who want to start helping but don't know how. Once you educate yourself, encourage those people and show them where to begin.
7 Lend An Ear
Finally, never underestimate the power of just listening. If you know people who are feeling scared, who are affected, or who are isolated by these policies, be there to listen. If you know people who may be feeling left out by the movement— trans folks, people of color, and other marginalized groups— be there to listen. Reaching out is one the simplest, most direct ways to help someone, and it shouldn't be overlooked.
It's a scary AF time, but taking action will help not feel helpless and it'll do some good — and there's no time to waste.