Just a little over a year ago, the day after the election, I bundled up and walked to Golden Gardens Beach from the boat I live on with my husband, Dan. We had spent the night before with our daughters and their partners hoping to witness the election of the first woman President of the United States.

As I walked to the beach the next morning, I felt shaken numb. Could it be that misogyny was even more rampant in our country than I had believed?

The question had less to do with whom we had not elected than it had to do with whom we had. A person who so disrespects women that he brags about his exploits and conquests in the crudest of terms was now president. As we have since learned through his appointments and candidate endorsements, he supports and promotes others like him — and worse.

I was fearful and despondent that morning about what this meant for our country. But even more, I was perplexed and deeply disturbed by what this election revealed about the unjust and negative attitudes toward women that continue to prevail.

Within a few months came the Women’s Marches, the protests, the action groups. Something felt different. Rather than extinguishing our fire, it seemed that the election galvanized women and the men who love and respect them to get loud and cry out, “No more!”

In the last 11 months, a wave of women have run for and been elected to office. The #MeToo movement has given women the power and courage to call out the sexual abuse and the denigration they have had to bury and ignore for so long. Woe be to the man who gets exposed at this point in the movement. Anita Hill is no longer alone. They are listening. They believe us.

During the Women’s March, coverage of which I watched intently from Panama where I was spending the winter, the sheer number of people who took to the streets excited me. I was also moved by the kindness and caring that the organizers incorporated into their announcements. Along with the collective indignation over what had happened a month earlier, announcers infused a distinctly feminine energy into the event, reminding participants to keep an eye out for lost children and to assist the elderly. They let folks know where the bathrooms were, and encouraged people to be careful.

In no way did these caring gestures undermine our strength or dilute the reason for our protest. On the contrary, it proved that women can organize brilliantly, can stand up for what they believe with conviction, and can still manage to take care of those who need our help. I was so proud of my sisters on that January day and so proud to be a woman.

Last week, my Queen Anne book club gathered for our annual holiday celebration. In addition to our usual reveling at this time of year, we added to our gathering donations of toiletries and gift cards for the Queen Anne Helpline ( By the time we said goodnight, boxes and baskets were overflowing with donations.

Again, I felt that sense of pride and hope. With everything that is happening at this time of year, these women joyfully provided for those in our community. Where there is a need, we fill it. If there is a way, we find it. That is who we are.

That and so much more.

We have a long way to go to realize equality. It is far from over. Misogyny remains a constant in our world and our lives. But for now, I take comfort in the doors that are opening. In the courage the current movement is providing. I plan to celebrate the holidays this year by avoiding distractions. By staying close to what matters at this time. My family. My friends. The disadvantaged. Our beautiful planet. I plan to embrace my feminine strength and weave into it all the love and caring I can.

IRENE PANKE HOPKINS ( is a freelance essayist and blogger. To comment on this column, write to