A post specifically for white women from a white woman

I have been getting messages from white women expressing heartbreak at the outcome of the election, terror for their lives and bodily autonomy, and heartsickness at being blamed for the results of the election. The recriminations are adding more stress to an already unbearable situation, and feel like being in the cycle of abuse. We’re all triggered by this lunatic autocrat, and yet we’re being blamed for having elected him. Why? How?

The blame is ours (white women who didn’t vote for Trump) because we haven’t historically done anything to stop this, and have participated in the system that created this. I will break it down for you (this post has actually been brewing for a few months, long before we thought he could actually win and it was white women who would give him the victory) and tell you how to fix it going forward, even under this tyrant’s rule.

(Before I start, though, if you are having swirling panicked thoughts and can’t get the hairpiece’s victory out of your mind and body, here is my story: I was feeling really jumpy and twisted and stuck in the experience of finding out that Trump won the election, so I did a little EMDR on myself and I’m feeling much calmer and able to deal. EMDR works really well for short-lived traumatic events that happen in adulthood, so I did it. I put myself back into the period of realizing he was winning and felt the feelings and physical sensations, and didn’t try to overlay a narrative, just felt the things as they came to me. At the same time I watched this video and followed the light with my eyes. Ten minutes later I was feeling much better. If you do this, either watch the video on your laptop or orient your phone horizontally. And your pets will hate the noise, so get them out of the room first. The video is here. )

The fact that 53% of white women voted for the bloviating sphincter is crushing, isn’t it? How did this happen? How did the 47% of us not matter?

It’s because we have been conditioned to act in certain ways and have not questioned that. I am guessing that by now you are comfortable with the idea that although you personally didn’t participate in slavery and maybe your ancestors didn’t, either, you benefit from the inequitable system caused by slavery that’s still in place now. This is just a few levels deeper than that. Stay with me.


For centuries, white women have been fighting for survival in harsh, patriarchal systems. And the way to ensure our survival and any degree of safety has been to play nice with men and invest ourselves in those systems and structures. It wasn’t safe to be a woman alone, and a woman alone with a child was dead meat. Without the protection of a man, you were dead. So we went along to survive. Women who did not play nicely enough with men to earn their protection died. (See: Lily Bart, Fantine from Les Miserables, any non-comedic opera ever, and thousands and thousands of actual dead women who couldn’t play along)

Because these systems were so closed and we were raised in them, we didn’t see this as anything unusual, so we learned to play the game really well. Really well. And that included proving our loyalty to men and to systems by scapegoating anyone who threatened our relationships to them, even in a solely perceived way. WE DIDN’T ASK QUESTIONS.

(Right now I have part of the confession sequence from the Lutheran worship service in my head: “We have not loved you with our whole hearts. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.”)

Black women have always been our first choice of fall guys, because they were easy prey. White men told us they were animals and we willingly accepted that. This became entrenched in our culture during slavery, when white slave-owning women blamed Black women for having been raped by their white slave-owning husbands. How much more horrible can you get, to blame someone who was literally owned by her rapist for the rape? But white women did it to solidify their positions in the family and as owners of humans. They leaned in hard to a vicious system that favored white men. This has spiraled into the present and we still have pervasive ideas that Black women are oversexual predators and white women are hard-working and plucky. At this very second in feminism, white women shouldn’t be slut-shamed for anything they do but Black women are fair game (even when they’re talking about sex with their husbands). This is generations of us talking ourselves into believing lies to make ourselves feel better, at the expense of other women who we then had to dehumanize further to justify our thoughts and behavior.

Women will cooperate with each other and create enough for everyone together, in clever and easy (meaning “with ease”) ways. Unless there is scarcity, in which case we switch to competition so that we can feed our children. Men know this, and they know that this is the way to control us. All they have to do is create false scarcity and we go after each other and they have us at their whims. White men have easily weaponized white women against Black women simply by putting the notion of scarcity in our heads.

At any single second in which you think you need to compete against another woman, especially a Black woman, pull back the curtain and look for the mechanisms and figure out if there’s actual scarcity or if that’s simply manipulation. Hint: Our public schools and corporate culture are all deliberately designed to feign scarcity.

In a lot of ways this is just a neverending series of rounds of Prisoner’s Dilemma (a game with a setup designed to create scarcity via punishment), with you and another woman as the prisoners. If it was just one round, and the other prisoner was on the same footing you are and had the same privilege, this wouldn’t be a big deal–eventually you’d either get good at game theory and amass a supportive group of women friends or you wouldn’t. But this is happening on a large scale multiple times per day and your opponent is Black women as a group, and that’s the cancer that eats us individually and caused those 53% of white women to vote Trump.

Here’s a huge secret that you’re not allowed to consider in game theory, but that the field of negotiations is aces at focusing on: There is always another option, if you are willing to detach from the system and find something that honors the actual human people involved and work together for your mutual benefit. But it is not to the benefit of the men running our systems and institutions for you to step outside of their system, so they do anything they have to to fool you into going with your gut reaction to the idea of scarcity.

The 53% of white women who voted for Trump are simply leaning in to the same toxic, patriarchal, privilege-enforcing system that’s existed for centuries. They think that these white men are going to save them and protect them, and they’re willing to sell out anyone else–but especially Black women–to lock down that protection.

The problem with that, of course, is that the system hates them just as much as it hates everyone else. Donald Trump stated on camera that he takes any woman’s body that he wants. That he wants to “punish” women for controlling their own bodies. He has said in a loud voice that he is not going to protect women. But the women who voted for him have talked themselves into believing that they’re safe, even when they’re told flat out that they aren’t. They think that this is literally a game of Prisoner’s Dilemma. Or a red line system, in which anyone who falls below the red line gets cut, so all they have to do is shove someone else down below them to ensure that they make the cut.

The system as it exists–our financial system, our economy, work culture and policies, social customs, male-female interpersonal relations, education–is hostile to everyone who isn’t a middle class (or higher) educated straight white cisgender man. That means that all the rest of us are simply trying to navigate survival inside this rigged system. The optimal solution to Prisoner’s Dilemma is for both prisoners to protect each other. But for prisoners who have been beaten down by previous encounters with the system, it’s difficult to trust that the other prisoner will protect them, so they act out of self-interest with bad information.

That’s exactly why we can’t play along. We need to detach from what we’ve been conditioned to think is really true, about institutions and about Black women and about ourselves. And we need to work toward choosing other women, Black women, instead of trusting a system that hates us.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post over on AskMoxie.org about how we’re so invested in racist systems and structures in our daily lives that we don’t even realize that we don’t have to participate in them. Think carefully about how the very structure of your life is set up to make you think you are making choices of your own free will, but you are not, because there’s only one logical course of action almost all the time, if you accept the game the system sets up for you.

The system is not going to save you. It never has. It hates you and is actively working for your harm, while telling you you’re pretty so you feel like you have to trust it. These men you thought would save you voted for Trump while telling you it was for your own good. Men know that when you create the impression of scarcity, women will compete. And they use that to manipulate us. Don’t fall for it. There is ALWAYS enough to go around, for white women and Black women (and all women), if we cooperate and spin gold out of straw the way we do when we’re not afraid.

Step out of the game someone else set up for you, because the house always wins. Trust people instead of systems.

This is important: Black women do not have to reciprocate. They can’t. We have been punching them in the face every day for thousands of years. If you have to say “trust me” to someone, there’s no way they can trust you. Just do the work without expectation of reward.

Also important: This isn’t about friendship. You do not have to be friends with all or any Black women. It is about acting in their best interests. “I have Black friends” is used as an excuse for racism so often that we know individual friendships aren’t any kind of test. You can be actively anti-racist wherever you are, just as you can be complacently racist wherever you are.

Do you need some concrete suggestions of how to dig in to other women instead of leaning in to a system that hates you at the expense of your sister? I have a few that can get you started, and then you’ll start finding ways as you go. I am not good at this yet but I have learned some things, and here they are:

1. Disengage yourself from groups, organizations, systems, structures, knitting groups, professional organizations, and any other gathering of people that doesn’t specifically and proactively welcome Black women without expecting them to conform to white customs.

1a. If you have agency inside any groups, organizations, etc. that are primarily white-focused, start making changes to include and actively welcome Black women without requiring them to conform to white customs and culture.

2. Cut it out with the microaggressions. Think carefully before you speak. Is what you are about to say promoting this woman? Or are you giving some kind of back-handed compliment to try to gain the upper hand? Is there a reason you need to make a comparison here? Is this your business? Would you like it if someone assumed this thing about you? Use the Platinum Rule (Treat others the way they want to be treated), keep your hands to yourself, and remember that you don’t have to verbalize every thought that comes into your head.

3. Go through your friends lists and write down your Black female friends’ names and what their expertise is in. The next time you are asked to recommend someone for something, go down your list and recommend one of them. Keep growing your list. Keep recommending Black women.

4. Be as watchful and protective of Black women’s children as you are of your own. Give their kids the benefit of the doubt. Let them be young and free and silly and stupid. Teach your own children about the school-to-prison pipeline and how schools consistently discipline Black children more harshly and create the false perception that Black children are wild and misbehave, while giving white children a pass for the same behavior. All children should be allowed to be kids, and acting out is a sign of hurt that needs to be healed, not essential badness. Teach your kids to watch out for the Black kids in their classes and report in to you if they see inequitable treatment. Then go push hard on the schools to make things right and protect their Black kids at least as strongly as they protect their white kids. Sign up for the mailing list at BeingBlackAtSchool.org to get specific information and action points of how to advocate for Black kids in school.

(Since I have the confession litany in my head anyway I will confess to you now the only regret of my entire life: When I was going through a divorce I did not pay enough attention to the fact that my son’s white female teacher was scapegoating the one Black girl in his Kindergarten class and bullying her every day. I complained about it to the principal, who was not allowed to remove the teacher. I should have gone further with it and escalated to the Board of Education and the teacher’s union and done whatever I had to do to get this woman removed from the classroom. But I didn’t. I failed that girl’s mother and I failed myself.)

5. Believe Black women when they tell you something about their experience. You don’t need to ante up with something equally horrible that happened to you. No Misery Poker. Just because what happens to her is consistently worse than what happens to you doesn’t mean your pain isn’t real and harmful. It just means that her pain is real.

5. Look for opportunities to promote Black women to your network. Pay full price. Talk them up.

6. Show up for them and sit toward the back.

7. Bring your own cookies. Don’t ask Black women to approve your actions or bless your mistakes. You are going to make mistakes and you are going to do the right thing and you are responsible for your own emotions in either of these cases.

8. Be verbal to your white female friends and acquaintances about the specific struggles Black women face navigating the same system. Your white sisters may have no idea, and they may also have no idea that they don’t have to keep leaning in in a way that hurts Black women. You would want to know if you were inadvertently hurting someone else, and your friends do, too.

9. When you have power, use it in service of Black women. This business about Black women’s hair being inappropriate in the workplace is particularly horrible because the majority of HR workers are white women. We’re the policymakers here, and we’re being weaponized by white men against Black women over hair. HAIR. We could stop this idiocy by making policies about hairstyles and dress that don’t police other women’s bodies and focus only on safety in the workplace. As long as her hair is not in danger of catching on fire or getting caught in a machine and killing her, why do you care? Make your official policy that people can wear their hair the way they want to, and move on to something important like schedules and leave policy that allows parents to work and also care for their children.

10. Notice and call out false notions of scarcity. Refuse to participate. When you are setting up reward systems, set them up so that anyone who achieves gets the prize, not ranking people against each other. Think of alternatives. (If this is new to you, read the first half of the book Getting To Yes to reframe the idea of negotiation from a zero-sum game to creating more for everyone.)

11. Don’t coopt Black female culture unless you’re also fighting for their freedom and to normalize their experiences. Everyone wants to be Black until the police come. If you’re going to a Beyonce concert you need to be willing to wear your #blacklivesmatter t-shirt to the grocery store and support legislation to end racist laws that put Black women’s children in jail and put money into organizations that support Black families.

12. Pay Black women and people who actively support Black women money. Accept money happily from the opposition and then pass it right along. Money is power.

13. Don’t allow anyone to talk smack about Black women in your presence (and especially around your kids!). Think about it and shift the frame of how you talk about Black women to make them the subjects and not the objects. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Talk about them as you’d talk about your best friend. If you’re struggling with something involving Black women, go to the internet and look for facts from reputable sources. (If you don’t know how, ask a librarian. They will be thrilled to help you.)

14. Call out your friends and neighbors when you notice them doing things that reinforce the fear of scarcity and the framing of the world as a zero-sum game. Keep talking to them and sharing stories and experiences. Those 53% of women were thinking only about themselves. Some of them will never let themselves see the truth, but if we keep sharing human stories and holding them accountable for the hurt they cause, eventually some of them will.

15. Stay focused. You are not a pawn. The entire universe is inside you and you do not have to participate in harming others in order to survive. Once you drop what you’re clenching so tightly for fear of losing it, you can open your hand to help someone else.

All my love,


Navigating relationships with people who voted against you

I was interviewed by Kirk LaPointe on Vancouver’s Roundhouse Radio about this website last night. You can listen here: http://cirh.streamon.fm/listenlater-pl-6080

Today what seems to be going on is that we’re struggling with how to navigate relationships with people who voted for Trump and think we should just be cool with it. I want to offer you a framework for making those decisions for yourself.

Two things about this:
1. I am a Christian and was raised ELCA Lutheran, so a lot of the language and concepts I’m using here come from that tradition. If these words don’t click for you, translate into language that makes sense to you.
2. I’m assuming that we’re all traumatized by the last year and especially this week, so our first priority needs to be protecting ourselves and each other so we have a secure place to begin to heal. This is simply a physical and medical reality. You can’t leapfrog to emotional health and strength just because you want to.

A person who voted for Trump voted against you. (Unless you are a straight white cisgender Evangelical Christian man, in which case they voted against someone you love.) They voted to discriminate against Black and Latinx people, to dissolve same-sex marriages and destabilize families, to do harm to transgender people, to ridicule people with disabilities, to deport immigrants, to isolate and register a religious group, and to sanction violence and sexual assault against women. They voted to scare children and encourage bullies. They voted to incite violence and harassment, and make the country less safe and stable.

It does not matter if this is what they intended with their vote or not. They can tell you (and themselves) that they voted for him for any number of his bizarre and unlikely promises to them, but the effect is that they put someone in power who is threatening your safety and health. If someone trips and stabs you with a knife, you are still stabbed even though they didn’t do it on purpose.

Some of these people really didn’t think about what they were doing when they voted for him. But that’s not your fault. You are not required to clean up other people’s mistakes, especially when those mistakes hurt you. You definitely do not have to give anyone a pass for doing something massively stupid (because they knew all the information about Trump that you know) that hurts you just because they didn’t think it through all the way.

So what do you do? I see a few levels of action possible:

a. Cut off all contact. This is totally legit if it’s what you need to do. They don’t get to guilt you into letting them hurt you again. It’s absolutely unreasonable for someone to ask/guilt/manipulate someone they hurt into continuing to maintain a relationship with them. And it’s enraging if they ask you to have sympathy for them for having hurt you. Just no.

b. Limited contact, no real investment in the relationship. You keep the real parts of you for yourself and just let them see what feels safe for you to keep the peace. This is probably the best option for coworkers.

c. Allow them to work toward reconciliation with you. If they want to be in your lives, they need to show that they understand what their decision did to you, accept responsibility, and then work toward restitution. A simple apology doesn’t cut it. They need to work actively to make amends for what they did. What restitution consists of for you is up to you. For me it would mean needing them to financially support organizations that protect us (like the ACLU and Southern Poverty Law Center), research issues of justice (starting with reading The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander), and advocate in their own lives among their friends and family for non-sexist and non-racist policies and language. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this happened? You’ll never know unless you ask for it.

d. Accept their apology and allow them back into your life. If you feel strong enough to do this, I am not going to tell you not to. But be very careful that you aren’t choosing this option out of fear or guilt or manipulation. Remember that if you’ve grown up in a sick system in which you were forced to prove your worth, it will be your instinct to violate your own boundaries in able to be able to receive what feels like love. Now is actually an excellent time to start experimenting with what happens if you maintain your own boundaries even if it means not being approved of. (Spoiler: Other people who just accept you at face value show up out of nowhere to be your friends.)

Note that none of those options include you apologizing for anything they did, or for your feelings.

There are people who knew exactly what they were doing when they voted for Trump and how it would affect you. In that case, the only real options that don’t harm you more are for you to cut them out of your life entirely or just allow the contact you have but limit your investment in them (the workplace option). Also know that you are never going to get restitution or even acknowledgement from them. They will never get their comeuppance. They will never figure it out, and will continue to complain and blame others forever. That’s got nothing to do with you.

Hey, but what about forgiveness, Magda?

It’s funny that you asked. I have some strong feelings about forgiveness, both as a concept and in action. First, it’s entirely too soon to even be talking about forgiveness. You can’t forgive someone who’s still actively hurting you, and if they’re trying to gaslight you on Facebook by telling you you need to “get over it” or “just get along” or any of that other tripe, they’re still actively hurting you. Do not participate in your own harm.

Second, asking for forgiveness is almost always punching down. It’s always men asking women for forgiveness, white people asking POC for forgiveness, cisgendered people asking transgender people for forgiveness, etc. Asking for forgiveness just becomes another tool to manipulate marginalized people into giving up their own agency.

Third, in this specific situation, you can’t actually even give forgiveness, because it’s not just about you. Your friend’s vote hurt you, but it also hurt me and our children and everyone else’s kids and POC and sexual assault victims and [insert enormously long list of people Trump and Pence want to harm here]. You can’t forgive them for hurting me. So it doesn’t do them any good.

Now, I do think that forgiveness as a process that helps you recover from trauma is important. But in the initial concept for this website I wasn’t even going to get to that until week 5, so it’s waaaaay too early to talk about that. We will get to it, though, because it’s another tool that gives you yourself.

I hope this helps you decide how to deal with the people you’re struggling with right now. You don’t have to make decisions right now. It’s perfectly ok to not say anything to them, to tell them you need space to think about it, to disappear entirely so they can’t instigate a conversation about it with you. Do what you need to do to protect yourself and don’t get sucked into comforting anyone who harmed you.

This is eventually going to feel better. In the meantime, if you’re still really anxious, click through to this article and listen to the song “Weightless” by Marconi Union that was specifically recorded to calm anxiety. I doubted, but it does. (Don’t listen to it while you’re driving.)

All my love,


First we cry

OK, loveys, here we go.

Last night I talked about how to talk about this election result to your kids here, if you have kids you have to talk to about this.

We’re not going to take this lying down, but give yourself today to feel bad. If you’re a crier, cry. If you’re not a crier, go do some kind of hard physical activity to try to work the hurt and feelings out of your body. (I developed a theory that some people release tension by crying but others only increase tension by crying. If you release tension by crying, then cry. If that doesn’t work for you, sometimes you have to get it out other ways. I wrote this about tension increaser children.)

Here’s the rest of your to do list for today:

  1. Don’t leave or make plans to leave. This is your country, whether you’ve been here for 20 minutes or your ancestors have been here for hundreds of years. Plus, if the decent people leave, then there is no hope ever to get the US back on track to be a productive nation, and everyone who’s left really has no protection.
  2. Stop drinking. You need to have all your wits about you and be present, even if it hurts. If you can just stop, then just stop. If you need help, reach out and let someone know it’s out of hand and you need help stopping.
  3. But drink a ton of water. Sleep as much as you can. Eat vegetables. Go out and walk for 30 minutes if you can.
  4. Are there kids in your life in any capacity? Stay close to them and give them lots of hugs (if that’s appropriate) and lots of positive feedback. They can still do anything and be great. That hasn’t changed.
  5. If you are lucky enough to have financial investments, do not check your balances today. There is nothing you can do about it, and pulling out in a panic won’t help, so just move on.
  6. If you have anything to give, send $10 to Southern Poverty Law Center, $10 to the #NoDAPL protectors at Sacred Stone Camp, and $10 to Black Lives Matter.
  7. Give and receive as many hugs as you can today, from people and pets. Touch is serious healing, and you need healing. Hugs for days, real hugs, long tight hugs.

Tomorrow we start with next steps for action, examining systems and how this happened, and real trauma healing techniques.

You need to be strong for this. Take yourself seriously and treat yourself kindly.

All my love,


This isn’t what it was supposed to be

This was supposed to be a six-week step-by-step slow and low guide to treating the trauma caused by the Trump campaign. It was going to use the most recent work on trauma recovery to help you understand how you’d been hurt by the campaign and the stress of losing individual relationships while doing exercises based on different modes of trauma healing to heal your body and mind. One email a day for six weeks, and by the end you’d have yourself back.

But now the sky’s fallen in and the bottom’s fallen out and that’s not enough. How can you recover from trauma while you’re still in it?

Please give me a day to regroup on how to help all of us get through this. In the meantime, here’s how to help the kids in your life:

Here’s the truth: You will still protect your children the way you did before this election. You teach them to maintain and protect their own boundaries. You talk to the people around you so you and your children are known in the community, so if they have a problem someone will know who they are and step in to help. You spend time with family and friends and give them a bunch of caring adults.

Now, you need to curate their worlds more than you did before. Turn off media so they don’t have to hear his disgusting voice. Don’t talk about the things he’s done and said where they can hear. Erase him from their worlds as much as possible. And curate who they are allowed to be in contact with for the next week–if there have been kids or adults taunting them about Trump’s plans, protect your kids. Talk to teachers and administrators about making their classrooms and playgrounds Trump-free zones.

And this is what you tell them: “There are a lot of people who were really scared, and wanted to believe what Trump told them. They voted for him because they didn’t feel like they controlled their own lives. And that’s really sad. But it doesn’t mean that Trump has enough power to hurt you or me or your friends or your friends’ parents. It just means that we’re going to spend more time with the people we know love and protect us. And we’ll get through this together.”

Then focus on the Celebrate/Comfort/Collaborate/Listen/Inspire model from the Defending Childhood model for helping kids through trauma: https://changingmindsnow.org/healing

This country has gone through some horrible things before, and we will survive this. The key is going to be to hang on to just enough anger to keep us moving, and release the anger that separates us from each other. Resilience is in the community. If we didn’t have community before, here we are now, together.

Tomorrow I’m going to have a list sorted out of what are the major issues we’re going to have to protect each other against. I’m in shock right now so I’ve got to sleep and then pull it all together. You’re in shock now, so get some sleep and then talk to the kids in your life tomorrow.

We can get through this.

All my love,