A Conversation Among Women in the Wake of the Election
November 13, 2016 | Filed in: Your Brain
The night after the election, our CEO Sarah LaFleur sent a note to the MM.LaFleur community to call for a conversation among women. In 48 hours, we received over 1,100 emails (66,133 words—yes, we counted) in response. As we reviewed them, we were incredibly moved and inspired.
As was to be expected, some of those responses said, “You’re a clothing brand. You should stay out of politics.” We respectfully disagree. As one customer put it so eloquently: “I don’t want your company to be apolitical. You have a voice and a following, and you should use it.”
As a brand, we’ve heard you and we plan to take action to fight (even harder) for equality of all kinds. Here on the M Dash, our mission is to continue the conversation and create a space where women with differing viewpoints can be heard and learn from each other. The majority of responses we received came from Hillary supporters, but in the spirit of open discussion, we are including thoughts from all sides of the debate in this post. Below, our customers speak for themselves.
“I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be a woman in America today, and I know I’m not alone. I am struggling to find ways to understand and channel our feelings and to make positive use of them. Yesterday’s definitive election results felt like a repudiation of women’s voices and bodies. To what extent this sense is shared by our national and local communities isn’t clear yet, but understanding this begins with open and sincere discussion. One of the most extraordinary things that has come out of the last two days is this embrace of empathetic, even emotional dialogue. I can’t tell you how many recent conversations have started with, ‘I’m here for you,’ ‘Let me know if you need to talk,’ and ‘How are you feeling?’ This is beautiful, and I hope it’s not just occurring within my own social echo chamber.” —VP of Operations, New York
“The excessive, overly dramatic response to what was a fair election is absolutely absurd. This much energy is best spent elsewhere, on more productive pursuits. Trump’s victory is the literal definition of democracy, and the fact that most people around me today have been ‘horrified’ and ‘shocked’ goes to show just how cloistered their worlds are and how little they listen to the woes and anger of the people around them… What no one realizes is that when they bemoan the state of the world and act as if the world is ending because of one presidential election, they are alienating and stifling the freedom of speech and thought of others around them. Why are they so surprised about this result? Because they did not give the emotional or mental room to others who may have thought or felt differently to share without being instantly antagonized, villainized, and attacked. Where is the space to have healthy and open debate? My hope is that this election result will move us to create those spaces. And for the record, no, I did not vote for Trump. I voted for Hillary. I am just choosing to afford my fellow Americans some respect.” —Master’s Student, Massachusetts
“As a sociologist and a scholar of gender and migration, as well as a concerned and engaged global citizen, I see the entirety of this election process as one driven by an undercurrent of far-right nationalism that has transformed fear, anxiety, and uncertainty into racism, xenophobia, and misogyny. That doesn’t mean everyone who voted for Trump supports that, just that the campaign and election carry with them these very concerning trends. I think that people of a variety of political persuasions can find these trends concerning, and that we need to come together across various ideological differences to take a stand against what is clearly a rising tide. And to me, professional women can be the bulwark of that resistance, as we have both the lived experience and a certain amount of power and privilege that can be mobilized.” —Anonymous
“We can learn so much from opposing views if we are willing to listen and openly communicate. Too often, we make assumptions and judge. I voted for Trump because I support medical innovation. Obamacare threatens the model needed to compete, commercialize, and innovate. We are on the brink of discovery within Alzheimer’s—as in, there are people out there with an app on their phone counting down the days until the data is released. Obamacare threatens all of that. I voted for Trump because I am passionate about the people we serve by the medicines we create. With only two parties, a vote is not always what it seems. It’s way more complex.” —Internal Specialty Sales Trainer, Indiana
“My husband and I worked hard to support the Johnson/Weld campaign, and this morning I woke up in my hotel room knowing certain loved ones will hate me for the near future. I pushed it aside mentally and went to work.” —Director of Product Management, Washington D.C.
“As a woman with a Ph.D. and my own global business, I am saddened and disappointed by the outcome, but I certainly hope we can come together and move forward and see the contribution that women do and can make! I am heartened by the fact that two of my friends were elected to political office yesterday, both women and both servant leaders.” —Consultant, Nevada
“There was a victory for women in that Kellyanne Conway was the first woman to lead a winning presidential campaign in the U.S. I find that inspirational—regardless of political preference.” —Healthcare Managing Partner, New Jersey
“As a female attorney of color and immigrant to the United States, the news of the election felt like a blow to me on a personal level. I moved to the U.S. eight years ago to attend college, ironically the very same year that Obama was elected. There was a hope, pride and zeal that surrounded Obama’s election, especially for those around me in college, that I feel has now sadly been replaced by fear and antagonism today. I am also Muslim and can’t help but wonder whether the rhetoric about banning Muslims will materialize, and what that will mean for thousands of immigrants. There are a lot of people like me—young, educated, professional Muslims—who have nothing but love for this country. But when I hear about hate speech, and even more recently, about physical attacks against Muslims and Latinos since Trump was elected, I feel scared. Not even so much for myself. But for others like me who don’t have the privilege to be shielded from such attacks.” —Attorney, California
“I’m a lawyer who works in a government office trying to enforce laws prohibiting discrimination. I woke up on Wednesday thinking, ‘How do I train and enforce our discrimination policy when our president-elect regularly violated multiple protected categories in the discrimination laws?’ My friends and I are struggling but want to do something positive.” —Attorney, New Jersey
“I was born and bred as a non-Muslim female in a Muslim country. I experienced sexual discrimination and harassment in my origin country, and when I tried reporting it to the cops, I was blamed for it. I left the country the first chance I could and never looked back until recently. I am unabashedly a true fiscal conservative but a social liberal in the sense that I support women’s rights, pro-choice, and I support LGBT. After much soul-searching, I decided that fiscal conservatism, jobs, and national security overrode my social liberal side. When I tentatively aired my views that I might be supporting Trump to my friends, I was mocked, ridiculed, and even got labeled as trash and a low life. I was shocked, especially since they were supposedly my good friends. It stung and brought back unpleasant memories many years ago when my own female friends ostracized me when I dared to stand up to sexual harassment. Aren’t women supposed to help each other no matter what their views are?” —CFO, Texas
“I am having a difficult time dealing with the idea that a man who is on record as insulting, degrading, and boasting of the sexual assault of women is soon to be my Commander-in-Chief. It makes me feel unimportant, unheard, and powerless. It seems to me—and I’m sure that many of your customers would agree—that the best reaction to feeling powerless is to make yourself feel strong. So the first things I did on Wednesday morning were: sign up for self-defense classes and buy a new axe for my axe-throwing lessons.” —Technical Editor, Washington D.C.
“I believed (and still believe) that Secretary Clinton was a qualified candidate for president, and that she represented a beautiful vision for this country. I also believe that ignoring or dismissing someone’s sexist, racist, hostile, and manipulative behavior is unacceptable; that sexism certainly should not be a motivator, a key value or guiding principle of an entire political party. But there exists a lethal combination of people in our country who believe that sexism, racism, hostility, and manipulation aren’t actually bad things at all, and people who think, ‘Sure, they’re bad, but not bad enough to overlook for a tax cut.’ The results of this election have shaken me to my core. When I meet women who voted against their own right to essential healthcare, against the idea that sexual assault is wrong, women who say they don’t care about the sexism in our political landscape, I am deeply disturbed and upset. I can only hope very hard that our country comes out of this with some dignity left, and that somehow, through all of our fighting and working and educating and explaining, by not allowing silence, all people can reach an equal place in this society. As tired as I am already (and I haven’t been fighting nearly as long as most), I am committed: I will not give up and I will not shut up until real progress is made.” —Real Estate Associate, New York
“For the past 22 years, I have worked in the field of sexual violence prevention. Working tirelessly for victims while simultaneously educating children about sexual assault and rape culture. This election and its results have shaken myself and my staff to the core. One thing the election has taught us is that there is a shit ton of work to be done in our field regarding rape culture myths, victim blaming, and so much more. I had whole heartedly intended to retire from my job in the next year. But yesterday morning, I woke with a renewed sense that it ain’t over yet! I have much more to give, and with a president-elect who clearly does not value women, I feel I’m needed now more than ever.” —Sexual Assault Prevention Education Coordinator, Illinois
“While there are many things that have been (and continue to be) scary about this election, one of the most profound things for me is the continued perception / misperception of women in leadership roles. So what can we do? I think we need to reach out to other women like never before. I am a criminal defense lawyer and my profession is very male-dominated. It is not so much that they have the numbers, but they have the network and they help each other. I don’t see that a lot amongst female criminal defense attorneys. Yesterday, I felt like I woke up to a strange new and unwelcome world. Today, I’m choosing to look at this as a setback, not a rejection of what I believe. I am choosing to see this as the last battle from the people who see the world passing them by. I am reminded of a quote from Molly Ivins: ‘It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America.’ I am determined to continue that struggle, to protect those that are in my care, fight for fairness and equality, and offer love and acceptance.” —Attorney, Texas
“I manage a huge team of men and women, and I believe in supporting each other and positioning each other for success. I feel and have experienced that women do not help each other as we should. Women often act like ‘mean girls’ when it comes down to it. We don’t support each other at critical times; we don’t ask for what we deserve. When we are tough, we are a ‘bitch.’ When men are tough, it’s expected. As an executive in a Fortune 500 company and a startup, I see this all the time. It’s going to take a movement of women who support each other and have each other’s best interest at heart to change this thinking—not just a female president. A woman president won’t help women’s rights or help us ‘get ahead.’ We as a movement have to do that. I was not a fan or either candidate, and I was angry that I was forced to choose the ‘lesser of two evils.’ But until people dig in and own their future, read the information (not the headlines on TMZ), and don’t take their cues from celebrities and reality shows, we are living in The Truman Show.” —Anonymous
“I firmly believe that women of all political persuasions can—and should—talk with one another about the issues that are important to us as a way to grow stronger together. As we have seen so clearly with this election, misogyny and racism are still entrenched in our country, and we need to stand up for ourselves and our communities against these hurtful ideas and actions. I think this is especially important for professional women across sectors to band together in support of one another. Yesterday was a tough day for me. I’m a religious person, so I have been comforted by my faith as I’ve been processing the election results. I also know that strong women across this nation will continue to approach each day with grace and kindness as they lead by example and speak out when they see injustice. I plan to get more involved in some of the women’s groups I belong to in an effort to increase our impact and influence against some of the ugliness we have seen through this campaign. I’m choosing hope as well!” —Senior Director, Washington, D.C.
“Hillary, flawed as she is, had been one of the most important standard bearers of Feminism for my generation, and her concession speech was the crumbling of a wall—old-guard, establishment feminism had finally fallen. Now that she had been defeated, she was quite suddenly passing us the torch. And the burden, no doubt intensified by the fact that Donald Trump would be our 45th president, felt very, very heavy: ‘Let us have faith in each other, let us not grow weary and lose heart, for there are more seasons to come and there is more work to do.’ Now that she had lost, Feminism—whatever that word means—was ours to protect, to progress. Not hers. In that moment, I felt incredibly unprepared. 48 hours later, this new responsibility inspires my first small act—I’ll define Feminism for myself. For me, Feminism in a post-Hillary world means a bias for action. For work. This is the real legacy of Feminism, to define your work: work at raising compassionate children, work at a career, work for a cause. Feminism today is about doing something intentionally, and with energy. In our Age of Mass Distraction, it is so dangerously easy to let the years tick by without nurturing a bias for action. Without acting.” — Brand Consultant, New York
This is just the beginning. As a brand, we are working on ways to continue this conversation, to listen to your suggestions, and finally, to take action on behalf of women in the workplace. For now, please continue to contribute your thoughts and ideas by using #ourMMovement on social media, or emailing us at ourMMovement@mmlafleur.com. We are listening.