[DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in my posts are personal opinions, and they do not reflect the positions or policies of any institution with which I am affiliated.]i can't even begin to imagine how many times in her life hillary clinton has had to bite her tongue. through everything, through trump, i never saw her even begin to lose her cool.on nov. 8th, i realized that i had assumed that all of that self-control, all of that turning the other cheek, meant that she had earned a win. i made the same gamble on hillary's behalf that women and minorities make every day: that if we take the blows without flinching, if we don't play the woman/minority card, if we keep demonstrating our competence, people will have no choice but to recognize it.one lesson from this election is that this strategy doesn't always work. it assumes a reality that does not yet exist. we will not get extra credit for our patience and forbearance in the face of sexism, racism, homophobia, or xenophobia. no one will pat us on the back for biting our tongues. it is time to start speaking up.i hope that when people watched the debates, and admired clinton's strength, they made the parallel to the less extreme situations that women and minorities face every day. we don't often face someone as vile as trump, but if we want to be successful we have to be prepared to absorb smaller slights on a regular basis, to keep our cool when faced with ignorant, unfair, or offensive comments.why don't we call them out? because it's extremely difficult. because there are too many things to call out. because there is backlash. because we often don't know for sure how much sexism is to blame for any particular event. because often the person being sexist is someone we like and respect, and we don't want to make them uncomfortable. because we often don't want to derail the conversation, or take away from the larger goal of the group. because there is gaslighting. because it's fucking exhausting to speak up.it is very hard to decide whether and when to speak up.* i don't know the right answer, but hillary's loss has convinced me that the answer is: more. so when it feels like the right thing to do, i will try very hard to say something. saying words out loud is not my strong suit, so we'll see how it goes. i'll probably fail, a lot.**i'll also try to speak up more when people are good. when people stick their necks out for women, for minorities, for people who have less voice, less visibility, more to lose. i think one reason i underestimated how much of an uphill battle hillary was facing is because i know a lot of good people. people who believed in me stubbornly, persistently, fiercely. people who treated me as an authority on my own experience, and on other topics, well before i thought i had anything worth saying, or trusted my own voice. i cannot thank those people enough, but i can try to pay it forward.speaking up scares the shit out of me. but if you do it with me, it'll seem a little less scary.*** i'm not talking about being a jerk, i'm talking about being more honest. flinching, if you feel like flinching. giving other people the chance to hear your experience. telling people how things look and sound to you does not make you a nasty woman. and staying silent will not guarantee any reward.* for example, i deliberated for a long time about whether or not to publish this blog post. i'm still not sure about it. presumably if you are reading this i decided to post it. yikes.** i have already failed, twice, since writing this sentence.
*** reading Lindy West's book, Shrill, also makes it seem a little less scary. go read it.