White women of America,
Spare me a few moments of your time. Close your Pinterest window, tug on your favorite pair of leggings, and cozy up with a piping hot Pumpkin Spice Latte because I’m going to need you comfortable enough to give me your undivided attention.
Please step the f*ck up.
Scratch that. I’m done saying “please.” We, — yes, I’m as stereotypically white suburban mom as it gets — we don’t deserve any more wiggle room.
Just step the f*ck up.
Offended that I’m referencing your skin color? Appalled that I would use it to peg you as a demographic in need of growth?
Too damn bad.
We no longer have the luxury of playing to delicate sensibilities. We don’t have time to feign horror at strong language—because we need strong women and, my friends, we’ve been seriously lacking as of late.
Nearly two years ago, 52% of white women voted for an anti-intellectual, misogynistic, self-avowed pussy-grabbing Commander-in-Chief. We were shamed from supporting the first major party woman candidate for president on the basis that we would be voting with our vaginas.
We were condescended to, demeaned, and gaslighted. In the end, the majority of us cast a ballot against our own self interests.
And our reward? A Republican-led Congress that failed to prioritize the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act and snubbed an equal pay initiative. The elevation of men like Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) who claimed Republican women are not inclined to join the Judiciary Committee because it’s such hard work, and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) who disregarded women protesters by telling them to “grow up.”
You would think we would’ve learned our lesson. You would think the events of the past several weeks would not be condoned by white women. But you would be wrong.
While education level was slightly more determinative than gender in forming opinions on the Kavanaugh hearings, white women still haven’t progressed far beyond the same percentage willing to overlook Trump’s blatant misogyny on the campaign trail.
Despite all we’ve been through since then, I haven’t seen the change. While some of us have been fueled by a seemingly endless supply of anger, ready to be unleashed upon the world with our mighty roars, most of you, well, just don’t give a damn.
To the extent that you notice the gigantic political currents crashing through the country at all, you simply shake your head and mumble under your breath. You roll your eyes, change the channel, or change the subject. Sometimes I see a glimmer of disgust, but it just as quickly fades; because sustaining anger is hard. It’s draining.
Ladies, it’s simply not an option anymore.
Get angry. Stay angry.
Stay angry the way black women have been over the deaths of their sons. Call upon their righteous indignation at being treated as less than human, more than half a century after the Civil Rights movement.
Stay angry the way indigenous women have been over the loss of their land to corporate greed. Channel their steadfast resolve, focusing on what’s right over what is easy, as they have for centuries.
Stay angry the way Central and South American immigrants have been over the separation of their families, simply for having the gall to escape crime, poverty, and death. See in them yourself—a mother, wanting what’s best for her children.
There’s nothing wrong with anger, ladies—not when it propels us to action.
But all too often, we refuse the call. We don’t want to be angry because, frankly, we don’t have to be. Our whiteness protects us. It cradles our every word and action with a safe landing.
Don’t believe me? When was the last time your child was kicked out of school for her hairstyle? How many conversations have you had with your son about wearing hoodies? How uncomfortable were you while being harassed for speaking another language in public?
Because that isn’t our reality, because ours is far more generous, it can be easy to slip into apathy. It’s why we feel comfortable parroting false equivalencies and cementing our thoughts with #himtoo.
We can’t be bothered to find the truth for ourselves. We don’t need to know that only 2-10% of rape accusations are false; that of those false accusations, distinguishable patterns can be observed. We brush aside gross displays of victim shaming like the one President Trump offered at a recent rally because, despite our own histories of trauma, we simply don’t care to educate ourselves about its psychology.
Ours aren’t nearly as blatant as those experienced by women of color, historically speaking at least. So even when we feel sick to our stomach, even when we could use the past to inform our present, we fail to put ourselves first.
We defer to the men.
We let them win.
And then we walk away, shoving our personal pain a little farther down. Because we’ve been taught to acquiesce to power, implicitly understanding that it belongs to the men in our lives—always has. And since we are generally safe in society, shielded from the more stinging pains of our colored sisters, we count our blessings and maintain the status quo.
This is no longer optional.
We cannot afford to live in such a world, a world in which men like now-Justice Kavenaugh are permitted to fly into hysterics and partisan fear-mongering, while a female presidential candidate maintains composure in the face of equally vile attacks but is pegged as emotional and lacking in stamina.
And yet, we do.
This is a world in which white men are constantly given the benefit of the doubt, where we scream “due process!” in defense of the Brett Kavanaughs and “he deserves another chance!” to the Brock Turners. Then we turn around and flippantly dismiss the deaths of young men like Michael Brown and Travon Martin because we don’t fear the execution of our white sons. No, what we fear is the loss of entitlement that comes with an equal playing field.
In our passivity, we too are complicit. It’s that very silence that allows inequality to run rampant in our streets. It conditions the men in our lives to feel victimized by accountability.
Our silence speaks volumes when those same men dismiss women’s stories of sexual assault under the assumption they are lying. We coddle their fears, nodding along with their dismissals. But let’s be clear: these men are more fearful of the perception they could be unfairly attacked and judged than of women actually being attacked and judged.
That is the world we live in, and it’s a grim one.
We can be the change, though. I can’t say it begins with us because women of color have been leading the charge for decades, but it’s never too late to do the right thing.
White women of America, it’s time to get angry. It’s time to step up and demand accountability for all men. It’s time to stand lock-step with women all over this country and demand that we be heard.
Oh, we will be heard. They will call us shrill. They will call us hysterical. But ultimately, they will lose. Our voices are strong and, together, they will be a force for good.
But stay angry. Let it fire your soul and inflame your passions. Let your anger burn the old you to ashes so that you can be reborn into the goddess for good you were always meant to be.
And don’t worry, you can still keep your leggings and sip that Pumpkin Spice. There’s no right or wrong way to be a woman—not as long as you step the f*ck up and get loud.
Caitlin Antonides is a military spouse currently living in Kansas. In her free time, she blogs with her sister at https://loudisladylike.com. Be sure to follow her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/loudisladylike/) for musings on parenthood, politics, and everything in between. DSC_0017.jpeg