5 Ways to Keep Our Daughters in the March

The morning of the Seattle Women’s March I fixed my daughters and their friends an enormous breakfast. I never do this. Most Saturdays it’s fend-for-yourself around here.  The group poked fun at my efforts to fortify their bodies, as if, they joked, “we were going into battle”.

Now that the march is a week or so behind us -- and executive order after executive order stack up -- it has never been clearer that we are.

So what does this mean? Not a one of us felt the march was a “one-and-done” experience. However, the Trump agenda, with its ideological “shock-and-awe”, disorients and attempts to break our resolve. We need a game plan.  Without one, staying connected to the march’s spirit will fail. Girls and young women -- our daughters -- need to continue to be an integral part of this. As they grow in understanding that their rights on the ropes, they become engaged. As they build advocacy skills, joining old ways and new, we ensure the torch stays lit long after the Trump era is over.  

Our success rests on synergy.

In that spirit, here are five suggested ways -- personal and political -- women and girls can move the march forward together:

  1. Demystify Advocacy with Legislators

Phone calls are a relic for this generation of girls, but calls are said to be more effective in influencing representatives. One of the easiest new sites I’ve come across, 5 Calls, is a left-leaning tool that provides a super-easy way to get in touch with your representatives.  The idea is that with 5 minutes to spare, you can place 5 calls. I did this today and weighed in with my senators about opposing Jeff Sessions’ and Trump’s building of the border wall. The homepage showed me exactly how many calls were needed per action item. Then, when I clicked on an item, the site offered the phone number(s) and a basic script to use while on the call. I love too, that even if you are a shy, introverted person, there is support for calling legislators.  Check out this guide.

My girls and I have also explored the tools provided by Indivisible, a group of ex-Congressional staffers who took the Tea Party’s playbook and built strategies around showing up face-to-face at Town Halls and Congressional offices.  They swear that showing up is absolutely the best way to make an impact.  We are going to try this as well.  This is important now, and for the future.  The less mystified girls are by the political process, the more likely they will be to run for public office.  

2. Call Out, Don’t Deny, the White Elephant in the Room

It is important that all of our girls -- white, black, brown -- watch those with white privilege not react defensively to criticism of the march’s mostly white demographic.  Instead, moving forward, we need to reflect with girls on how to create true solidarity by viewing our causes in an intersectional way.  Learn more about intersectional feminism. In the past, many divisions have existed among women, and the roots start in girlhood. Exchange perspectives on how the roots of these divisions are built in the culture, and what you can do about these divisions moving forward. We live close to where the march was starting, a grassy park in a gentrifying neighborhood in central Seattle.  From the moment we left our house, we started to notice pussy hats, a forest of signs and people moving in clumps in the same general direction.  But instead of jubilation, I felt a pit in my stomach.  How was this going to work?  How would the speakers, mostly women of color, and the marchers, largely white women, find any common ground? But our march opened with a tribute to the Duwamish people, whose land we stood on, a simple request of gratitude for who had come before us.  Women of color unselfishly offered their stories to us.  They reminded us that they, and their communities, have something to teach those marching about survival.  Native American, Black, and Latina women have long experienced what white women are now feeling: their human rights under attack.  Read here and discuss the unity principles outlined by the organizers and decide which issues you would like to stay involved in together.   If you have white privilege, keep top of mind, “How can I leverage privilege in order to advance the causes of marginalized women of color, LGBTQ, Muslims and immigrant?"

3. Teach About Influencing Swing Districts

On November 6, 2018, 33 Senate and all 435 seats in the House will be up for re-election. Party identity math -- and the fact that the younger generation across all state's overwhelmingly votes blue -- is eventually going to spell doom for the Trump agenda in years to come.   Young women -- across all racial groups -- overwhelmingly supported a progressive agenda championed by Clinton.  In fact, Clinton won women 18 to 29 years old 63 percent to 31 percent. Teaching more girls about the force of their demographic can be a motivator to making sure they show up in droves, could secure the policy agendas that the majority of them support.    This organization, Swing Left, is trying to help spread fuel on progressive party identity.

Encourage changing voter registration if you know girls who are leaving for college and moving to a red state.  My daughter is, and I am going to wholly encourage her to switch her voter registration from Washington state to Pennsylvania.  I am also going to explain to her that if she has interest, getting involved in voter registration in her adopted (red) state is really important, as is involvement in the Democratic party on campus.  For example, one friend’s daughter joined the Democratic party in New Orleans where they are talking about environmental racism, introducing her to issues that affect the Gulf /drinking water in the districts around campus.  

4. Go Rogue Like Teen Vogue

Here is a brilliant idea I saw published in Teen Vogue. White House Inc. gives  a platform for communicating opposition to Trump’s agenda by calling his businesses and telling his hotel staff how you feel. The idea is that, since Trump has many un-divested properties, these “satellite White Houses” are fair game for American citizens to share their thoughts and concerns back to the President.   Boycotting Trump’s products is also happening. Here you can find an up-to-date list of companies that source Trump (including Ivanka’s) products. Both are important ways for young women to understand that using their consumer muscle is one of the most potent tools they possess.  Another source for some out-of- the-box ideas is MomsRising, an organization that takes on the most critical issues facing women, mothers, and families by educating the public and mobilizing massive grassroots action, has some creative action stuff going on.  Their latest was a one-click opportunity to send a mini statue of liberty to Trump tower.  They typically have 5 actions posted on their website.  

5. Repeat the Mantra: Power Isn’t a Dirty Word

Power isn’t a dirty word, but most girls grow up without a way to talk about it.  This new website, Five Powers, is designed to change that by using an intergenerational approach to sparking and sustaining conversations about tapping into power.  Here you will find revamped definitions of power, building blocks that meet girls right where they are at, and are designed to build a healthier girl culture.  Chewing on these together is a good place to start. Power Circle, Power Source, Power House, Power Surge and Power Play are the nicknames and language for how to describe how power plays out in the context of a girl’s life.  You will find activities you can do with girls that help cultivate the five powers.  Books and movies are recommended that sync with the powers and corresponding discussions. Use them to engage girls in thinking critically about ways that girls are granted or denied power in culture.  Again, understanding the personal alongside the political, is vitally important.

Moving the historic Women’s March from a moment to a movement requires we take the hard lessons and failures from the past (white) women’s movement and carry the torch with this generation of young women.  Only then can we can forge an inclusive, sustainable force to move our nation not only past the Trump agenda, but towards true gender, race, sexuality and economic justice.  

I encourage comments and would love to hear what you think about this topic.  Post comments here.  You can contact me by email: fivegirlpowers@gmail.com.