Lady Problems: What To Do And How To Help

There are very few words that can express the profound horror and devastation many of us are feeling right now

Lady Problems is a weekly column that looks at how the entertainment industry — and its corresponding culture and constituents — is treating women in a given week. (Hint: It will almost always be “poorly.”) Every Thursday we’ll review the week's most significant woman-centric conflicts, then provide a brilliant solution to each problem that nobody in Hollywood will ever listen to or enforce.

The Lady Problem: On Tuesday, America elected a violent, white supremacist, misogynist, xenophobic, KKK-backed, sexually predatory, unstable, dangerously unqualified demagogue to be its president. Both our Senate and House now run blood red. This goes so far beyond a Lady Problem: America itself is now, officially, a Human Problem for every single person who is not a white cisgender male. There are very few words that can express the profound horror and devastation many of us are feeling right now. Or, at least, I have very few at this point.

All I can think about is what a grave and deeply tragic mistake we've all made. All I can do is call my grandma, a Jewish woman born in 1932 who's spent the duration of her life fighting for the rights of the disenfranchised, and apologize to her that the women of the future she fought so valiantly for did not return that invaluable favor by showing up when she needed them most. All I can do is apologize to my 13-year-old sister for the world she's inheriting from us and tell her that I will work my fucking ass off to make sure that she grows up with her reproductive rights intact, that she will not live in a country where men can treat her body like it's theirs, that I will do everything I can to make sure she will be safe and respected and loved. All I can do is tell my best friend, whose family is Muslim, that I'm so sorry we failed her, that I love her and that she's not alone and that I will kick and scream alongside her as long as we both live, endlessly striving to defeat the racist monsters who want to see her life destroyed and her liberties stolen. All I can do is let my LGBTQ friends and family know that I stand with them in a country that, at best, would see them completely stripped of their hard-won rights. All I can do is apologize to the entire fucking world on behalf of the white women of America, 53 percent of whom should've done so much better. (White men grasping at the last vestiges of your power: I expected this shit from you. Thanks for this small, useless, interminably haunting validation.)

The Solution: First and foremost, take care of yourself. If you're feeling depressed or suicidal, here's the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255. Here's the number for the Trevor Project Lifeline, which provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people: 866-488-7386.

If you can do so in a non-self-destructive manner, allow yourself to feel shit. Do not deny or let others deny the validity of your emotions. Get angry. Scream. Cry. Eat. Sleep. Take 12 baths. Take in the suggestions of my smart, lovely colleagues.

And then take action. Don't freeze out the Trump voters in your life. Explain what was at stake and what's been lost. Spend the next four years working to change minds and hearts and policies. Donate money, time, or energy to any of the organizations on this list, pulled together by Joanna Rothkopf of Jezebel. A few examples:

• The American Civil Liberties Union works to defend individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution. Donate here.

• Earthjustice is the largest nonprofit environmental law organization in the country, working for the protection of wildlife, healthy communities, and cleaner energy options. The organization represents its clients free of charge. Donate here, and sign up for action alerts here.

• The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) works to promote the civil rights of people of color and to eliminate race-based discrimination. Donate here, and find your local chapter for more ways to get involved here.

• Planned Parenthood is the country’s leading sexual and reproductive healthcare provider. Click here for nationwide volunteer opportunities (including as a clinic escort), and click here to donate. Local chapters also list more extensive volunteer opportunities, so take a look at your specific chapter (here’s New York City’s page) for more.

If you don't have the energy to activate just yet, that's okay. If nothing else, here's a few pieces of writing that may make you feel a little bit less alone in your grief.

David Remnick, in The New Yorker, “An American Tragedy”: “There are, inevitably, miseries to come: an increasingly reactionary Supreme Court; an emboldened right-wing Congress; a President whose disdain for women and minorities, civil liberties and scientific fact, to say nothing of simple decency, has been repeatedly demonstrated. Trump is vulgarity unbounded, a knowledge-free national leader who will not only set markets tumbling but will strike fear into the hearts of the vulnerable, the weak, and, above all, the many varieties of Other whom he has so deeply insulted. The African-American Other. The Hispanic Other. The female Other. The Jewish and Muslim Other. The most hopeful way to look at this grievous event — and it’s a stretch — is that this election and the years to follow will be a test of the strength, or the fragility, of American institutions. It will be a test of our seriousness and resolve.”

Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib, on MTV News, “We Can’t Stop Livin’: Listening to Marvin Gaye on the Morning After”: “A thing I’ve gotten bored with, in my own work, is informing white people of their whiteness, or telling white people how to feel about their whiteness — and, in turn, being told by white people how they feel about being white. There is social capital in that, of course, but it does nothing for the preserving and uplifting of a people. It does nothing to activate and empower bodies, to put ourselves between each other and whatever it is that’s coming. The times are too urgent for me to consider things that do not do this. I once had a friend tell me that when he says ‘my people,’ he means marginalized folks and those who are down with marginalized folks, and that is what I believe. With that in mind, when I tell myself to get back to work, I am doing it facing my people. I am doing it and still rolling out a wide welcome mat, asking the marginalized and hurting, and anyone invested in the marginalized and hurting, to join, to perhaps learn, to perhaps take to the fight in their own way, but definitely to show up. I haven’t got time for anything else. The people who demanded their country back for the last eight years imagine that it is once again theirs, and I have time for fear, and I have time for grief, and I have time for anxiety. But, even in the face of all those things, I do not have time to be undone.”

Roxane Gay, in the New York Times, “What Happened on Election Day”: “A bigger part of tonight’s story is that millions and millions of Americans are willing to vote for a candidate who has been endorsed by the Klan. They are willing to vote for a candidate who has displayed open contempt for women. They are willing to vote for a candidate whose base is openly hostile to people of color, immigrants and Muslims. We cannot ignore the hate that Mr. Trump both encourages and allows to flourish. I am terrified that the more virulent of Mr. Trump’s base will see his election as permission to act on hatred. ... I feel hopeless right now. I am incredibly disappointed, but I cannot wallow in these feelings for long. I will not. The world will not end because of a Trump presidency. Tomorrow, the sun will rise and the day will be a lot less joyful than I imagined, but I’ll get through it. We all will.

But I also know that the most vulnerable among us will now be even more vulnerable because there are now too few checks and balances to executive power, given the Republican-controlled legislature.

Where do we go from here? That is the question many of us will be trying to answer for the next while. For now, we need to breathe, stand tall and adjust to this new reality as best we can. We need — through writing, through protest, through voting in 2018 and 2020 — to be the checks and balances our government lacks so that we can protect the most defenseless among us, so that we can preserve the more perfect union America has long held as the ideal. We have to fight hard, though I do not yet know what that fight looks like.”

Clara Jeffery, in Mother Jones, “Don’t Mourn, Fight Like Hell”: “This is a dark hour, and to say otherwise would be a lie. It is — by orders of magnitude — the worst political outcome our country has faced in many generations. But let us not forget those who have pushed back already. The nonagenarian women — black and white — who struggled against infirmity and efforts to suppress their vote to get to the polls. All the Latinos and Asians who registered for the first time and turned out in record numbers to try to repel the hate too many white Americans voted for. The blacks who stood up for equality, as they always have.

Trump appealed to America's worst impulses. Now it's on the rest of us to show, to prove, that this is not all that America is. This is a time when we're called on to do things we may not have done before. To face down bigotry and hate, and to reach beyond our Facebook feeds in trying to do so.”