Many women whom I respect and admire are planning to march in unity against President-Elect Donald Trump this week. All of them share my disappointment that a candidate who openly disrespected women during his entire campaign could win the support of roughly half of our fellow Americans.
Since that day, I have given a great deal of thought to how I’ll personally address the matter of his inauguration on January 20, and have chosen a different course of action to express my dissatisfaction.
Over the past 18 months – and what seemed like the longest campaign season I have ever experienced – I frequently (and often loudly) proclaimed that I would volunteer full-time at Planned Parenthood or other women’s organizations if Hilary Clinton did not win the election. The idea that someone like Mr. Trump could trump her appeal seemed downright impossible.
But my grandiose attitude and arrogant boasting obscured the real situation going on in this country; one in which the working poor – and many working women in particular – could not see any hope in another four years with a Democrat at the helm.
Living in a “bubble city” like San Francisco, one is often blinded by multi-million dollar homes and abundant employment opportunities. But this five-county metro has more than its share of homeless women and children; many often diagnosed with both addiction and mental health issues. Would a different person sitting in an oval office across the continent change the life of this local population? No.
My years serving as a San Francisco Health Commissioner taught me well. Homelessness is a multi-pronged problem that’s unaffected by the political party of the President and requires more than just money. (More on this in America’s Shotgun Approach to Mental Health).
Looking back, I wish I had listened more carefully to those women who were not supporting Hilary Clinton. As it turns out, it’s not because they didn’t “like” her or they believed the false news reports. It’s because they felt abandoned by the Democratic Party and hadn’t experienced any of the extraordinary benefits I had over the past eight years living in my bubble city.
This time spent in serious contemplation and the revelations it’s produced have convinced me that it is time to honor my promise, keep my word and volunteer at non-profit organizations serving the women in San Francisco.
It’s easier to write a check to these organizations, and I have regularly made donations to Planned Parenthood and Emily’s List.
However, I now realize the importance of actually looking into the faces of other women who feel alone and frightened because they’re living on the street or paycheck to paycheck. I am not sure yet how many hours I can handle with a full-time job, but I am committed to investing as many as I can and starting right now.
My second resolution is to stop hating – period – or being angry with any political figure. Anger and hatred make me the only victim in the situation, so it’s not only futile but self-destructive. I admit I succumbed to six weeks of such behavior after November 9, and all I experienced was sadness and physical pain.
And that is why I will not be marching in Washington or San Francisco or anywhere else on January 21. I have never missed an election or protested an inauguration in my life – no matter how disappointed I was in the new President – and I don’t intend to change that tradition this year.
So, this Friday, I will view the peaceful, respectful transference of power and, later that day, will layout my individual plan on how I can contribute to creating a safe, kind and hopeful environment for women in my own hometown; a plan that honors the mission of 360Women and could work for women all over the United States.
That is my commitment to you and to all women in need. I will continue to fight for women’s rights – including the right to equal pay, to better healthcare and to make any decisions about your own body.
I encourage you to join me.
“When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle might be wrought in our life or in the life of another.” – Helen Keller