It all feels really heavy.
The state of the world. The reports about climate change. Inflation that continues to slam our most vulnerable. And, of course, in DC, we’ve gone from being one man’s vote away from a greater social safety net — finally — to five people’s votes away from striking down Roe v. Wade.
To say nothing of the markets. Tech stocks are way down; the Nasdaq had its worst April since 2008. And the bond market? I just read that that old stalwart is having its worst performance since 1842. (Not a typo.)
Remember how fun we thought everything would be “post-pandemic”? Hot girl summer. (Canceled.) Traveling again. (Expensive.) Now even the Great Resignation — in Silicon Valley, at least — is giving way to layoffs and hiring freezes. (And by the way, the pandemic? Nowhere near “post.”)
It’s just … really heavy.
In light of all this, I’ve been thinking a lot about missed opportunities — where we might have done better, and where we might still. Just a few years ago, that feeling that women were unstoppable was almost palpable. But, as something I recently read put it, the type of feminism espoused at the time by the Lean Ins and Girlbosses, despite all of the energy generated, might have been “asking for less” — they were about helping (privileged) women succeed in the business world as it exists, rather than changing it.
But it’s not enough to demand a piece of what’s already there when what’s there is fundamentally flawed. Maybe that is one explanation for why Time’s Up imploded despite the great energy it started with. (The Time’s Up website says it’s “resetting to rebuild” — or, as a friend of mine used to say, it’s “getting ready to get ready.”) And why a number of the felt-exciting, had-a-swagger, up-and-coming women CEOs ended up being forced out following accusations of fostering hostile work environments and racism, as they were allegedly being pushed to deliver all-kinds-of-growth by outside investors.
Despite all of this, odds are still good that many of the conditions dragging us down will improve. On the financial front, history tells us that the markets recover, and that “buying stocks on sale” and holding them for the long term has previously been a winning strategy. (In fact, if you had bought the stock market index on any day since the 1920s and held it for 15 years, your chances of a positive return were 99%.*)
History also suggests that, despite setbacks, women do gain greater equality over time. But this greater equality has never come easy. Quite the opposite: It was hard-fought and hard-won by the women who came before us (often women of color) and — as we’ve learned before, and as we’re learning once again — it is by no means guaranteed.
So what to do about all this heaviness? We take care of ourselves, for one — prioritizing our mental, physical, and financial wellness. We vote, at the polls and with our dollars. We look to organizers who saw this coming and follow their lead. (They’ve already thought through our next steps.)
But most importantly, we remember that voting and donating are just the beginning. We must support one another directly — by giving, by volunteering, by educating — however we are able. The more solidarity we can build with each other — the more we share the heavy — the harder it’ll be to keep us weighed down.
Here at Ellevest, we’re working as a team on how we can best support this fight in the coming months. In the meantime, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org: How are you doing? What's bringing you hope? How are you taking action? And how can Ellevest best support you right now?
Investing has had the further benefit of feeling a bit subversive for women, given that we are subject to a lifetime’s worth of patronizing and disempowering messages that we aren’t any good with money. And also because of the power that it gives us: If you don’t control your own money, you don’t control your own life.
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