This Thanksgiving, don't play nice—bring out your inner nasty woman instead

This Thanksgiving, don't play nice—bring out your inner nasty woman instead

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2016%2f06%2f29%2fe7%2fhttpsd2mhye01h4nj2n.cloudfront.netmediazgkymde1lzex.c3dabBy Rebecca Ruiz2016-11-23 18:21:27 UTC

Every Thanksgiving celebration this year needs a nasty woman.

After all, this beloved tradition in American households is one that has, in form and function, generally put women in their place. They become the gracious hostess, greeting family members with a warm smile, and a hot meal. They stay out of dinner table disputes over politics, and take their meals standing up in the kitchen.

That may sound like a throwback, but plenty of women—liberals included—slip into a conventional role that makes everyone else feel comfortable.

This Thanksgiving, though, is different. There’s election-based dread in the air—fear that the holiday will devolve into partisan family fistfights. Amid calls for empathy, though, let's be clear about one thing: Women don't have to smile. They don't have to keep the peace. In fact, we should consider abandoning our graciousness—and all of the emotional labor that goes with it.

We should embrace our inner “nasty woman.” She, who gleefully shimmies after her opponent tries to land a knock-out punch, but instead spins himself in circles. Even when she loses, she holds her spine like it’s steel and gets up to fight another day. The nasty woman may try diplomacy first, but she won’t tolerate bullying or cruelty. And at the nasty woman's dinner table, love still trumps hate.

“Let us have faith in each other. Let us not grow weary. Let us not lose heart. For there are more seasons to come and...more work to do.”

— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) November 9, 2016

The last two weeks have been tough for nasty women. We've been told to heal the nation’s wounds and asked to empathize with people who might actually hate us. Reconciliation and understanding have their place, of course, but they often come at the cost of women’s anger—and progress toward fundamental equality for women. Yet, we show up to this conversation, because it’s exactly what everyone expects us to do: Smile reassuringly. Put our differences aside. And so on.

Lynne, who didn’t feel comfortable using her real name, says she knows this burden well, as a Hillary supporter married to a Trump supporter. “I'm faced with a deluge of mansplaining, and then have to articulately and calmly direct the conversation back to a place of logic and reason,” says the 26-year-old, who lives in Tucson, Arizona. “I almost take on a motherly role in explaining.”

"We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope" MLK #pansuitnation hold onto your #hope

— Pantsuit Nation (@pantsuitnation) November 20, 2016

Women all around the country are trying to salvage their most cherished relationships, but the nasty woman understands she can only do so much. Because, let’s be honest, some of the people celebrating Trump’s presidency have no interest in building bridges. Their ballot was a vote to blow up the bridge, no matter who might be left stuck on the other side.

So the nasty woman’s best bet is to channel the shimmy Clinton deployed at the second presidential debate after Trump rambled on about her flawed judgment. Like this:

Try it at Thanksgiving after your conservative mother says Clinton should be jailed or President Obama is a Muslim.

If you want people to think twice about ranting at the dinner table, tell argumentative guests that they’re on dish duty. Or make the conversation come at a cost, literally, by asking for a donation to give to a local food bank, the ACLU or an immigrants’ rights organization.

Sometimes, though, she knows standing up for what’s right means making other people uncomfortable. If Thanksgiving conversation turns to why Trump is right to expedite the mass deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants, or how Japanese internment camps set a precedent to track Muslim immigrants in a government registry, the nasty woman will say how she really feels.

You don’t need a surefire defense, or to go toe-to-toe with a patronizing relative. Just a "no, I don’t think that’s American" should do the trick. And don’t be afraid to say it more than once. The nasty woman knows her duty isn’t just to nurture family relationships, but to stand up for herself and for others' rights and dignity—even if they’re not sitting at her dinner table.

The nasty woman knows her duty is to stand up for herself and others—even if they’re not sitting at her dinner table.

That’s what Rachel Dagdagan, 26, ultimately did after the election. The tension building between her and her Trump-supporting family members had become too much, she wrote in an Instagram post.

“Today I had to tell my family that I will never discuss politics with them again,” said Dagdagan. “And the only way I was able to shut down that conversation was to tell my Mom, nearly ten years after the fact, that I am a sexual assault survivor ... I broke my Mom's heart tonight, and it was the only way to get my point across.”

Her mother wouldn’t ever be able to convince her to support Trump, she said, because, “[a]nyone who champions misogyny, bigotry, racism, homophobia, and xenophobia amongst a host of other harmful beliefs is not a person I will stand behind or support.”

The nasty woman must draw the line.

On Thanksgiving, that line may look bleaker than ever before. In a post-truth world, it’s become increasingly difficult to talk honestly about what’s happening. When the president-elect tweets misleading claims about preventing a car manufacturing plant from closing, for example, we’ve reached a new level of deception. If your Thanksgiving guests can’t even agree that fake news pervades Facebook and played a role in the election, your discussion may already be doomed.

"The devil whispered in my ear, 'You are not strong enough for the storm.' Today I whispered in the devil's ear, 'I am the storm.'"

— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) November 12, 2016

No one said this Thanksgiving would be easy. It’ll be hard as hell for women who opposed Trump in particular.

If you decided to brave the holiday with relatives you know will make the day harder, resist the urge to make everyone happy. Don’t consider it your job to reassure the table that peace is possible.

Go high when you need to, and be the nasty woman of your dreams: ready to champion the most vulnerable, champion yourself, and determined to never, ever give up.

After all, the secret of the nasty woman is that she's not at all nasty. She's simply a woman who remains true to herself even when—and especially when—doing so feels impossible.

Additional reporting by Laura Goode.

Topics: Conversations, Donald Trump, gender equality, Hillary Clinton, thanksgiving, World, women

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