Moving Beyond Our Fear in the Wake of 3% and the Election

November 14, 2016

Melissa Beseda

Melissa Beseda is the global content specialist at POSSIBLE, where she tracks and researches industry trends and curates thought leadership content for agency staff and clients. Before joining the advertising world, Melissa led digital and social media programs for museums and other arts and cultural organizations. Connect with Melissa on Twitter and LinkedIn, and read her article—"Moving Beyond Our Fear in the Wake of 3% and the Election"—inspired by Madonna Badger's 2016 3% Conference opening keynote.

At her opening keynote at The 3% Conference, Madonna Badger told her harrowing story of losing her three daughters and her parents in a devastating house fire. Her ultimate fear had been realized. Now, on the other side, there is nothing to be afraid of.

I was moved that morning by Madonna’s words and power and by her work to hold the advertising industry accountable for its misogyny with the #WomenNotObjects campaign. Her words and her work seem especially relevant today when the first woman presidential nominee lost to a xenophobic, misogynistic, racist bully. The greatest fear of this year’s election has been realized. A man who serially treats women like objects will be the 45th president of the United States.

While I realize that I come from a relatively privileged position: I’m a cisgendered, heterosexual, white woman with a top-tier education who passes for middle class, I am reeling from this loss and I am scared. What does this say to all young girls and boys about leadership? I am scared for the children whose parents will be deported, for the Dreamers whose lives he will crush. I am scared for transmen and transwomen, for people of color, for Muslims, for victims of sexual abuse, and for women and girls who do not want to become moms, but now may be sentenced to it. I am scared for me, too.

How do I—how do we—move beyond this fear, as Madonna did? Was Donald Trump winning the Electoral College our greatest fear, or is it his presidency? After being inspired by badass women for two days at The 3% Conference, I realized that the real work begins back at our offices. But now, sentenced to a Trump presidency for the next four years, what do we do?

How do we hold our government accountable when it is run by white men who care not for women, people of color, nor LGBTQ individuals? On the same coin, how do we heed the call of The 3% Conference and hold our companies accountable when they are run by white men who care not? How do we do both? How do we eschew their definition of women as objects? How do we make our families who voted for Trump see and empathize with the pain he inflicts? How do we get executive teams at companies to empathize with asking the only woman in the room to take notes? How do we live now that not only white men but also white women have chosen to hold us back? How did I—how did we—let that happen? How do we keep asking the questions and pursuing change through the answers? How do we transform those answers into an action plan?

Author’s Note

Since writing this, I’ve made plans to join the Women’s March on DC on January 21, 2017. If you cannot make it to DC, there are marches being planned in cities across the country. Find your state here. There is still one Senate seat up for grabs in Louisiana—consider donating to Foster Campbell. Find your representative and check out this article on how to most effectively talk to Congress. And lastly, and most importantly, consider running for office. She Should Run can help.