Mom-to-be Amber Tamblyn inspired many people with her bravery, when she spoke out about her history of sexual assault ahead of the second presidential debate back in October. She described the abuse she experienced at the hands of an ex-boyfriend — and the resulting shame and trauma it caused her — to make a point about what was really at stake for so many women in the presidential election, and why President-elect Donald Trump's self-described "locker room talk," was so unbelievably problematic. In the wake of Trump's victory, she is now speaking up once again, and Amber Tamblyn's open letter to Hillary Clinton perfectly encapsulates how so many of us are thinking and feeling following her election loss.
In the letter, which she penned for Glamour, Tamblyn wrote to Clinton on behalf of "all the girls and women that you have spent years sending a message to." She spoke of the way so many of us reached out to each other, heartbroken, after the election results were announced, and the way that so many of us worried about our children, their futures, and our own safety and liberty. It's the same kind of message plenty of other of women have been expressing — publicly and privately — since the announcement that Trump pulled off the shocking win, but Tamblyn didn't just stop at describing our collective sadness. She reminded us all that the reason why we were so sad and disappointed and heartbroken and angry is because Clinton's run for presidency taught us that we deserved so much more than what we've been given.
As we've seen clearly from the election results, there are plenty of people in the past few days who have explained Clinton's loss in a million different ways. She's the establishment. She was crooked. She was a liar. We've heard people say that Trump was the lesser of two evils, and that their votes for Trump had nothing to do with Clinton being a woman, or being in favor of rights for women and people of color and Muslims and the LGBTQ community, or survivors of sexual assault. But Tamblyn knows, just like so many of us know, that it is far more complex than that. Because, for so many of us, Clinton's campaign (and particularly her loss) highlighted exactly what we'd all grown up experiencing, yet hadn't ever had someone there to put so clearly into words. As Tamblyn wrote,
Through you, our eyes have been opened and we cannot un-know how much half of this country values women—including women themselves. Through you we now see, more clearly than ever, our own connections to each other, and by contrast, the disconnect between us. We see how much we love while still being unloved. We see how much we hate because of being hated. We see how much we have underestimated the national causes against us—against our bodies, our liberties, and our freedoms.
In the latter part of her letter, Tamblyn told the story of the first time she met Clinton, more than a decade ago, after they were introduced by actress Mary Steenburgen. And she spoke of the way that Clinton's words stirred her, lit the spark that has grown inside her and inside so many other women over the years who have realized that the world has always told them that we were not good enough, and that that was entirely untrue.
There is no word for that feeling. It lives in me like my unborn daughter does. It is the same feeling I felt last night as I sat next to Mary at the Javits Center in New York, watching the results come in. It is the same feeling I felt while writing poems about the lives and deaths of child actresses and the objectification of women in Hollywood. I felt it when I found out I was pregnant. I felt it when one of my best friends lost their child. I felt it when I was asked to lose weight, many times, for movies and television. I felt it when I watched my mother cry while holding her guitar, telling me she would never be good enough, as good as her father, the violin virtuoso. I felt it while hearing my father’s and my husband’s helpless anger over last night’s election. I felt it when I was a kid and got into fights with boys. I felt it when I was a teenager, and got into fights with other girls. I felt it when I was a child playing with Barbies, creating a Barbie army who wore swords and capes.
But as much as the sadness has at times felt overwhelming and totally demoralizing, the flip side, Tamblyn explained, is that Clinton's example finally gave women a way to mobilize that feeling, to finally direct it into something that mattered, and that had the potential to make a huge difference. Far too many American voters may have dismissed that when they cast their votes on Tuesday, and it may have proven just how far we still have to go. But as Tamblyn noted, Clinton's concession speech was a reminder that the fight is not over, and that it will not end with her.
The revolution was already growing in me, even then. I felt it this morning, when I woke up and watched your concession speech—your words to all of us. Directly to us: You belong here. You must stay and fight.
For all the men and women who believed in Clinton's message, who felt strongly that what she had to say was what we all had to say, and that what we had to say really mattered, nothing about this week has been particularly easy. But Tamblyn's letter — and, of course, Clinton campaign and election concession — makes it clear that the value of what we'd all believed in hasn't changed, or been diminished, just because it didn't prevail in the form of a Clinton presidency. It will continue, and we all have to continue it. And in the meantime, at least, we'll know that even if Clinton didn't become their president, for many, many women, she was their champion.