Dreaming is a form of planning.
Close the 538 tab you’ve had open on your browser all month. Now close your eyes. Now take a breath. Now imagine a world of complete gender equality.
Not the half-assed kind of equality where Brock Turner gets the time in prison he deserves. No. Love for Sheryl Sandberg aside, go beyond the Lean In fake it that we’re happy until we make it model. Imagine this: a world where Brock Turner saw a vulnerable woman, stopped and called for help and waited with kindness, concern, and compassion at her side until she was warm and safe.
Picture it. A world where sexual assault is essentially unheard of, because men have no need to demonstrate power to themselves or others. Imagine a world completely free of toxic masculinity.
Don’t picture a world where nuns are treated better, or women can be Imams under otherwise oppressive regimes. Picture a world free of patriarchal constructs of religion. No ISIS. No Catholic patriarchy. The Buddhists aren’t fighting it out in Myanmar. You can picture a world that includes organized religion – but imagine it free of gender-based hierarchy and the concept that women are forever stained by original sin.
And also, because I’m typing this on a plane, picture a world free of man-spreading. Where people, men and women, and anyone who identifies as whatever they want, takes up only the physical, political, economic, and spiritual space allotted to them. And it’s fair, because the allocations are fair.
They’re fair because they’re done in a way we possibly haven’t even conceived yet. We haven’t conceived it because half of humanity has been working with one hand tied behind our backs for millennia. And the other half has been spending too much time keeping the knot tightly bound.
And just imagine this. If we can move into a world free or gender discrimination, is it possible that a lot of the other -isms will unravel along the way? If we unleash the full potential of our people, a balanced potential, could there be solutions to other threats we face as humanity?
Stop laughing. I know. Me too. 99% of me is shaking with laughter and cynicism. But 1% of me, the tiny part that buys Chris Williamson records and celebrates Helen Reddy’s birthday, the starry-eyed 1970s one-dimensional white feminist in me says – wait. Just imagine. And remember that Gloria told us that dreaming is a form of planning.
Now if you’ve stopped laughing let me try another one on you.
Remember the psychic who said the end of the Mayan calendar was really just the end of the patriarchy? That we’re watching the destruction of an old world and the struggle for the new to emerge? Kinda feels like John Oliver is right and The Donald is the best symbol for the destruction of first world white male patriarchy out there, doesn’t it? The ultimate video game boss who embodies all the crappy levels women have fought their way through to get to the big battle?
Seriously - Super Mario Brothers is a perfect analogy here. Remember how you fought through level after level of increasing complexity, only to see, “Sorry, but the Princess is in another castle.”
So you battle on. Feels like that’s the feminist journey. But what if we’ve made it to the last world? What if this presidential election is the fight that tips the scales?
No. No way. Impossible. An old, imperfect, rich lady like Hillary Clinton can’t be the great white hope.
OK. Fine. Hillary Clinton may not be the epitome of all we dreamed our post-modern feminist / equalist savior would be. I’d pick Rigoberta Menchu myself to star as the movie hero who topples the first world white patriarchy. But we don’t get to pick - yet. We have Hillary. And I’m going to imagine that Hillary is enough. She’s certainly enough for me.
What if Hillary is enough to get this whole train moving? What if she’s wonderful and powerful and safe and accessible and flawed and represents compromise and inclusion and embracing the imperfect, and that’s OK? If you dream and expand your idea of the possible to include an unimagined gender-race-power blind new world order, the “politics of the possible” begin to seem revolutionary.
What if there is no one hero? What if our change isn’t one Superman flying backwards around the world and un-doing all the bad himself? What if winning isn’t represented by the one perfect general on the battlefield charging to the one ultimate battle and one ultimate victory? Perhaps Hillary isn’t The One. Perhaps she’s simply part of making the space we need to re-imagine change. Perhaps she’s forcing the issue and giving us all the cover we need to be strong and loud and fight for a new vision.
What if Hillary is enough, because a generation from now the sixteen year-old daughter of a Syrian refugee she didn’t ban from the country is sitting in her bedroom in Macon, Georgia painting the nails of her bestie’s fingers sparkly pink because he feels like that’s the perfect match for his camo-pants and pink tank-top outfit for school spirit day and it matches his girlfriend’s? And while she’s doing this meditative task she gets an idea, and the idea is the synthesized concept of care-free universal birth control and nuclear fusion. And also, she has the access and the power to actualize her dream?
How hard have these last few weeks been? What if a couple generations from now girls can’t even imagine a culture like ours? No women’s shame and fear and dirty laundry on display. No sexual assault and misogyny shoved in our face.
Today, Hillary Clinton, this nasty woman, is carrying all of the ugly we see. Why do women love to hate Hillary? Maybe because we’re scared of all this pain from all this change. She has courted and carried the hatred and the rage of the patriarchy for thirty years and we have to live this with her. She’s carried it and she’s stumbled and failed and won and she’s still fighting. She’s had the audacity to keep going.
Why do so many hate Hillary so very much?
Just what did you think the response would be from the patriarchy to a woman who shrugged off everything we had to throw at her and said in response, ‘Is that all you’ve got?’
She may not be the movie hero who turns it all around in a day. I don’t think two thousand years of patriarchy can be undone in four or eight years by a single woman.
But close your eyes again. Imagine that world we just talked about. Girls and boys who are free from the demands of protecting power, or earning power. What might happen? It might take one thousand years, but what might happen?
We have walked on the backs of so many women for so long. We are walking today on the back of Hillary Clinton. Her back is ridiculous strong – I don’t know how she does it. But I know she inspires me to be stronger. And I wonder if perhaps that bridge she’s building with a strength I’ve never seen before in my lifetime might be taking us places of power we can’t yet even understand.
Isn’t it possible that Hillary is just making the space for that little girl, or all the girls and boys who will change everything? Making the space and inspiring revolutionary leaders everywhere to take it on the chin and say, ‘I am a woman who will change the entire world for the better and I won’t stop.’
Gloria Steinem said it first. Dreaming is a form of planning. Tonight, I’m dreaming of a victory that might lead to a plan that changes everything. Are you excited? I am.