by Juliet Crites
What does the country need most right now? We need unity, to be unified after the deep divisions created by a campaign year of hate, fear mongering, and extreme dishonesty. The news pundits are saying that Trump blew multiple opportunities to bring the country together. Instead we are watching him do more heinous acts of societal, political, governmental, and environmental destruction. We all know this is just the beginning. It hasn’t even been a week since he was sworn in. Ask yourself what women would do if faced with this deplorable and divisive situation that is headed downhill fast. We got the answer to this question on January 21, 2017.
Women around the world, not just nationally, unified with each other, our husbands, fathers and sons, and our children and families. It started out as a women’s march but ended up being a unifying force across this county and the world. People were amazed at the unanimity of people during this march. I am not that amazed at the unity women were able to achieve in a short time. The past months have exposed the condition that women live with every day. With the attempt to de-fund Planned Parenthood (which leaves many people without needed care) and publicly listening to tapes of sexual predator behavior and abuse by a national political candidate, people are waking up to the American female experience. You don’t have to be female to hear and see what women are exposed to in daily life. Brothers, sons, fathers, husbands, and friends of women have had a small glimpse into the misogyny, institutional and structural gender discrimination, and the very real and dangerous rape culture in America. This combined with nationalism has not just spurred many to protest, it has ignited the feminine life-force worldwide.
A point of historical political change for women was when then-First Lady Hillary Clinton used the phrase in a speech to the United Nations: “Women’s rights are human rights.” This is a phrase used early in the feminist movement. Its early uses came during the 1980s and early 1990s. It came to most prominence as the name of the speech given by Hillary Rodham Clinton, the First Lady of the United States, on 5 September 1995, at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing.  In this speech she used the phrase within the longer refrain, “human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights[i].” This small gesture has been a catalyst for change over the last 22 years.
I remember that speech and I remember thinking that it was finally time to acknowledge women as equal to men. It was, of course, a naive thought. That was 22 years ago and women have continued to struggle with lower pay, domestic violence, rape culture, even child trafficking, all in our backyards unacknowledged, unaddressed and ever present. There is a terrible and unimaginable underbelly in American society and many or most of the victims are females of all ages. For those of you reading this column who are going to comment on men’s victimization, don’t worry, that is another column, it’s just not this one.
There have been politically divisive issues within women’s relationships, however, over time the gap has been closing. I have heard many mature women comment that they do not understand this divide, with Millennials in particular, and they say, “Don’t they know and understand what we went through in the 60’s and 70’s so they have the rights they have now?” The answer to that is, most likely, no they don’t. Millennial women have, however, put an exclamation point on the recent presidential election and the more recent Democratic Delegate elections and
are continuing with the fight for progressive values. Millennials are our future and I support and welcome them and their contributions.
Women old and young will continue to keep the activism alive across the nation and the world. There are many social and cultural intersections that divide women; however, there is one powerful condition that unites us and that is the experience of being female. Our common experience as females, which often consists of family and children first and then ourselves, brings us together. There is a thread that is woven through us, we are warriors and peacemakers, and we are the binding strength underlying every culture and every society.
For women like myself there is no going back to the dark times of unacknowledged abuses, divisions between us created by social, political, even geographical divides, and isolation. We are done suffering an existence of silence. Hear this: WE WILL NOT BE SILENCED! We are peaceful but powerful women who are often uniters, caretakers, and life givers. We will and are giving life to the resistance of destructive, divisive, disrespectful, and dark forces. Women have shown up for this. Our loved ones have joined in and we are ready to work toward a peaceful (or some of us not) and powerful protection of our values and what is important to us as a nation and as women.
 Nationalism defined by Merriam Webster ; loyalty and devotion to a nation; especially : a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations’ groups <Intense nationalism was one of the causes of the war.>