In the wake of this historic, unprecedented election, there are so many people looking for guidance on how, as women, we make sense of it all. Below are 12 must-read feminist responses to the 2016 presidential election. Let them enrage you, fuel you and inspire you to keep fighting:
1. Gloria Steinem
"I think this country is in a time of danger because most of us are escaping control by some of us. Just as we would never tell a woman, man or child to stay in a violent household, we will never go back to the old hierarchy. Despite ongoing threats, at home and in other countries, including a very racialized and gendered terrorism, we have many leaders who inspire democracy, who model it, and who know we are linked, not ranked.
Luckily, real change, like a tree, grows from the bottom up, not the top down.We have Hillary, Barack, and Michelle to guide us. We will not mourn, we will organize. Maybe we are about to be free." —Gloria Steinem for The Guardian
2. Lindy West
"We have been weathering this hurricane wall of doubt and violence for so long, and now, more crystalline than ever, we have an enemy and a mandate. We have the smirking apotheosis of our oppression sliming, paw-first, toward our genitals. We have the popular vote. We have proof, in exit polls, that white women will pawn their humanity for the safety of white supremacy. We have abortion pills to stockpile and neighbors to protect and children to teach. We have the right woman to find. We have local elections in a year.
The fact that we lost doesn’t make us wrong; the fact that they don’t believe in us doesn’t make us disappear." —Lindy West for The New York Times
3. Brittney Cooper
"Last night, white women and men together put their boots on the neck of such visions aiming instead to take the country back(ward), to a time where white male dominance was clearly the order of the day. Yesterday, white voters formed a coalition across the lines of gender to assure that white men’s place and white people’s power will remain untouched. The hallmark of unchecked white supremacy and patriarchy is the limitless opportunities available to mediocre white men. No one, not even Trump supporters, would argue that he is anything other than mediocre in morals, accomplishments, and political vision. But Hillary Clinton’s prodigious history of achievements both in and out of public office was no match for the astounding depths of Trump’s mediocrity. Up against this country’s best, most accomplished women, even the worst of men can still win. Last night, patriarchy had the last word in this battle with an eager pantsuit nation." —Brittney Cooper for Cosmopolitan.com
4. Jill Filipovic
"This election is such a deeply felt insult to women across the United States. The message is just so obvious: You can be the best by a long shot, but sorry, sweetie, that ain’t enough. Every woman who has ever been passed over for a promotion in favor of a lower-achieving male colleague, who has been condescended to by a teacher or a male classmate, who has been told her voice sounds too girly or she just doesn’t seem like a scientist or she lost the student body election because Dave just seemed like a more chill guy knows this feeling: that you are not enough, just because of who you are. It’s crazy-making, especially in a country that promises equality and that anything is possible. That ethos makes lots of women blame themselves, concluding maybe we’re just not as good, not as smart, not as hardworking as we think we are.
At least now we have a stark example of just how good a woman can be and still lose to a man who is deeply and fundamentally bad." —Jill Filipovic for Cosmopolitan.com
5. Ann Friedman
"Here’s a secret: Hillary was always a beginning and never an endpoint. She is not our last chance at a woman president, and she was never our only path to meaningful change or feminist progress. President Hillary—even with a Democratic Senate—wouldn’t have been able to put a hard stop on the entrenched racism that leads to state violence against black people, or the male entitlement that leads to the abuse and assault of women. Things are going to be, uh, different without her in the White House (sorry, understatement of the decade), but our fundamental task is unchanged. The call to action is the same, but so much louder." —Ann Friedman for The Cut
6. Clover Hope
"Overwhelmingly, white people voted to preserve whiteness. Fifty-eight percent of white Americans, according to CNN’s exit polls, voted to make Trump the leader of the country. President Trump. Many of them, motivated by fear and ignorance, walked into a voting booth and put physical effort toward electing a racist, sexist tyrant who’s been proven to hate everyone but himself. Sixty-three percent of white men voted Trump. The toughest pill is that fifty-three percent of white women followed them. Institutionally-educated and middle class white people voted to retain their power. The truth is that this is how it’s always been. The fear is that we continue to live with the knowledge that all along, it was you." —Clover Hope for Jezebel
7. Kelly Faircloth
"But as I looked around at the little girls I see popping up on my Facebook and toddling around my neighborhood—as I think of my own future children—I wanted this for them. I want a lot of things for them, of course: longer protected parental leave and paid at that; federally subsidized daycare; public schools that are well-funded and actually integrated; access to health care. But in the meantime, I wanted the symbolic victory of the election of America’s first female president with the added dimension that it could be seen as a renunciation of the way the country talked about Hillary Clinton and indeed all women for so many years. There’s so much work to do, but surely we could start by bagging this. Instead, America opted for Donald J. Trump." —Kelly Faircloth for Jezebel
8. Anne Helen Petersen
"I started to ask myself: Who would I be if I didn’t live in a world that hated women?”
What might we be? Perhaps women wouldn’t go to college fearing the statistical inevitability of sexual abuse. Perhaps we might be women liberated from the persistence of unequal pay for equal work. And perhaps we might gradually cease to calculate our value based on our ability to regiment our bodies into a highly circumscribed understanding of beauty. Those of us who are nonwhite, queer, fat, disabled, trans, or immigrant might not just be told that we’re equal citizens, but perhaps even experience life as such. Perhaps, if we didn’t live in a world that hated women, we might not live in fear that a male superior will sexually harass us and force us to make a decision between our integrity or our careers.
We might, in other words, experience something like freedom. And from there, the ability to navigate the world in a posture that is not defined by hesitancy and fear.
But for all of that, America has decided, we must wait." —Anne Helen Petersen for BuzzFeed
9. Michelle Goldberg
"Had Clinton won, she would have done more than shatter the glass ceiling. For 25 years, she has been a synecdoche for unseemly female ambition. (In 1996, a 4,000-word Weekly Standard essay titled 'The Feminization of America' ended with these words: 'To put it more simply, Hillary is welcoming men to their new role as the second sex.') Clinton ran for president on an explicitly feminist platform and promised a half-female Cabinet. Her victory would have been a sign that the gender hierarchy that has always been fundamental to our society—that has always been fundamental to most societies—was starting to crumble. It would have meant that men no longer rule. We have to come to terms with the fact that a majority of men would rather burn this country to the ground than let that happen." —Michelle Goldberg for Slate
10. Jessica Valenti
"I know that I’ll find the right words to relay the gravity of the election to my daughter without scaring her. I have confidence in that. Her father and I will tell her that sometimes people make bad decisions, and that the wrong people are chosen to lead. We’ll remind her of lessons she’s learned in school about times in her country’s history when we’ve done the wrong thing–horrible things. We’ll remind her of how good people organized and fought, loved each other and believed things could change.
We’ll tell her that we will have to be the good people who fight now. And soon, when we’ve had a chance to grieve and gather ourselves, we’ll remind our daughter that part of the reason this man was elected is because of how powerful we actually are. That our power scared him and others who are not ready to change and grow.
And that we owe it to ourselves and our country not to let fear stop us now. Not ever." —Jessica Valenti for The Guardian
11. Roxane Gay
"Where do we go from here? That is the question many of us will be trying to answer for the next while. For now, we need to breathe, stand tall, and adjust to this new reality as best we can. We need—through writing, through protest, through voting in 2018 and 2020—to be the checks and balances our government lacks so that we can protect the most defenseless among us, so that we can preserve the more perfect union America has long held as the ideal. We have to fight hard, though I do not yet know what that fight looks like." —Roxane Gay for The New York Times
12. Taffy Brodesser-Akner
"A week before Election Day, I saw an Instagram picture of a friend’s daughter who happened to share a birthday, that day, October 26, with Hillary Clinton. The Instagram caption read, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME AND HILLARY. I clicked 'like,' and I thought of the girls who had been radicalized by this election—literal seven year olds who will grow up knowing what to ask for, who will know what they’re worth in a way that Hillary’s generation and even mine have had to guess at, who will not wait for election returns to find out if they’ve become an acceptable part of society. They won’t stand by and write think pieces about unfairness. They won’t eat half the shit we’ve had to. But they will never know the sunshine of a Hillary Clinton presidency, where the fight is good and it all makes sense."—Taffy Brodesser-Akner for GQ
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.