To say 2020 is a pivotal year is something of an understatement. The language has shifted from climate change to the climate crisis as more of us wake to the effects of the planet heating up from California to Australia and hear the UN message to act now. The US presidential election looms large where both Democrats and Republicans feel democracy in the US will join the koalas (and humans) on the endangered species list if the other side wins. The Democrats are afraid of a fall into Fascism and the Republicans are afraid of a slide into Socialism. Peel back this histrionic rhetoric and what do we really have?
A debate about the best way to live in the modern world centered around ethics, economics and the environment!
Who is going to decide this epic battle, who has the most power to make a difference?
Women over 50!
According to a Harris Poll commissioned by the AARP women over 50 are going to decide the election. Let’s say that again: according to a Harris Poll women over 50 are going to decide the election. Why? Simply because 87% of us are definitely going to vote.
To boot, according to the survey, most women are still deciding who they will vote for. Women have power and are careful with how they use it.
While this sinks in I am reminded of something else. I am forced to ponder the power of 53%. 53% is the percentage of white women who voted for the president-elect in 2016. Hold that thought as well.
Women over 50 hold POWER. I think we should all take a deep breath and take this in. We are the first generation in millennia to have access to education, the vote, and choice over our reproductive lives. No wonder some males are so desperate to turn back the clock.
The political elite, since the early days of the American colony, has always been very good at understanding how to maintain their power, so good, they know how to create smokescreens to divert attention from the fact that they don’t have it anymore. (Check out the classic Howard Zinn book “The People’s History of the United States” if you want a deep dive into this).
Part of the elite’s strategy has been to encourage and enable a sense of powerlessness in the rest of us. They need us to feel weak. So women, let’s have a thought experiment and ask ourselves do we really realize how much power we hold, and even if we do, are we perhaps afraid to use it?
How could 53% of white women vote for a self-proclaimed sex offender? Is it because of deeply ingrained oppression? Do our conditionings prevent us from acting on our own values and beliefs? Is this what happened in the last election? Will this be the case this November?
I heard a story on a podcast that has become my latest party trick. It goes like this. A father and son are in a car crash and the father dies. The boy is taken to hospital only to have the surgeon declare it not possible that the surgeon operates because the patient is also the surgeon’s child.
What? Isn’t the father dead? Who could the surgeon be? Head scratching follows, uncle, grandfather, who?
Can you guess?
Brava for those of you who have, it’s the mother!
The Indian woman who told the story said she didn’t get it and her mother is a surgeon! This is the depth of the grooves that tell us we are not as grand or as beautiful or as educated or as whatever as we actually are.
I ask myself again, do I realize the extent of my personal and political power, and am I able to use it? When I was younger the message was that as I age as a woman I will become invisible. ‘Your power is your youth and your beauty, where you stand in the world in relationship to men’ said our cultural masters. Yet look where we are today.
Did you see 50 years young J-Lo at the Superbowl? Or perhaps you caught her on Saturday Night Live, where she bragged about being the superstar she is – diva, actress, mother, lover. I cheered along with her. Seeing her celebrate all of her achievements gives us all permission to shine, to have confidence in our choices, to celebrate our unique contributions to life. It reminds me that we are indeed seen and that what we do indeed shapes the world!
Naomi Klein, another super cool woman just about to turn 50, writer and social justice activist unites people. She can see a clean new era of fresh air, creativity, and prosperity for absolutely everyone. She sees people learning to listen to themselves, one another and the planet, and she sees it across all ages and demographics.
“Countless numbers of working people are starting to actually believe that they could exercise transformative power… It is an awakening, in the truest sense of the word.” she recently rejoices. Jane Fonda calls Naomi her hero.
Jane and Naomi, in all their wisdom, believe not just in women over 50 they believe in everybody, they believe in our collective power to co-create a really cool planet, a really great place to keep on living. The power of everyday people.
Thanks for reading, if you’ve made it this far, I invite you to leave a personal brag that reflects your brilliance and the name of a 50+ woman whose power you recognize. Let’s make a garland. I am going to start with loving the films I’ve made, they’re hilarious and Michelle Obama.