ESSAY / WHY WE MARCH
On Saturday, January 21, 2017, I woke at 6:45 am. I packed up the Cliff Bars, nuts, and water. As my son and husband dressed, I stared in the mirror and thought of why I was compelled to go downtown and stand alongside my sisters on this particular day. As a young person, I thought feminism was something that belonged to very well educated women, women who were gay, or women who were very angry. Since the election in November, I have begun to educate myself more deeply about the struggles of women throughout time. In recent months, I have realized that the media has portrayed feminism in this demeaning way as a means of belittling it, a means to make the movement and the word unpopular and ugly. As I grow, I learn each day. I am no longer afraid to call myself a feminist, though I am not well educated or gay. I am, however, becoming very angry. I care about all women, and I believe that they have a right to occupy this earth in the same way that men do, considering we that put all of those men on this earth.
The night before the march, we made signs to carry to the court house. I let my son make his own sign. In our house we do not allow the words dumb, stupid, hate, jerk, or any name calling whatsoever... the idea is that there is enough negativity in the world, and we do not need to contribute. That being said, Saturday was about speaking our minds, and my 7 year old has a slogan that he came up with, and he wanted to put it on his sign. I allowed it, even though it carried a negative message, because I believed that in this instance, on this day, he should be able to stand up for what he believes. He is turning out to be quite a tuned-in young man, and I suppose that is what we need from our youth.
At 8:00am we left for the train station in our neighborhood. I had no idea what to expect once we locked our front door. When we arrived at the platform, my smile could not be contained. It was packed, and the first two trains that came by were so full we could not get on. We forced ourselves onto the third train. There were some women comfortably standing in the middle of the car complaining that there was no room. I could not help but think to myself, "Folks! if we are planning to start a revolution, we have to be willing to get a little uncomfortable."
The air downtown was electric. There were people everywhere. Men, women, babies, toddlers, teenagers. There were people of every color and every age. I was moved beyond words. I felt like hugging everyone. People carried with them every kind of message, but they were all united around the idea that we cannot go backwards, we can only move forwards. My family marched and chanted for five hours. My son walked 5 miles in total. He was a champ, but at the end of the day he was pretty exhausted and irritated, and I feared he would leave with a negative impression. At 9pm as I walked down the hall, I heard him quietly chanting "Love trumps hate" under his covers. As a tear rolled down my cheek, I knew many lives were changed that day.
The next morning, a great deal was written about the march, but again, I could see the negative rhetoric being used to describe and belittle what women were marching about. I read what Senator Chris McDaniel from Mississippi had to say:
"So a group of unhappy liberal women marched in Washington DC. We shouldn't be surprised, all liberal women are unhappy. Perhaps there is a correlation. Nevertheless, I am fascinated to see them exercise their first amendment rights (however objectionable the message). But I do have a question: if they can afford all those piercings, tattoos, body painting, signs, and plane tickets, why do they want us to pay for their birth control?"
Chris, I have news for you. I consider myself to be quite liberal. To me, that means I care about being open minded. I care for the welfare of my fellow humans, and the environment in which we live. I have no tattoos. I have 2 pierced ears, but I got those in 2nd grade, and I am pretty sure they cost $20 at the jewelry counter in rural Illinois. The signs we carried cost $15 to make, and I did not need a plane ticket to march out my front door. I do not need you to pay for my birth control, but I do need the government to help pay for the health care of the women who cannot afford it. Chris, what I really need is for you to wake the fuck up, because there is a lot going on that you are not paying attention to. Liberal women and conservative women who are unhappy are feeling this way because of the great imbalance that we experience in our world. We march for our sisters around the globe, not just the ones next door. We march for change. We march because we are grown women who can make decisions about our bodies, and do not require your intervention. We march for equal pay, and equal treatment. We march because your viagra is subsidized, but our tampons are not. We march because we are tired of being treated like your objects.
I am a human being. I care about all of those around me. I don't read the bible, but I am pretty sure it talks about loving your neighbor. I believe that people who fear change fear the loss of their power. There is great happiness and power that comes from uniting. Giving love is so much more joyous than withholding it. I came away from this weekend with one grand idea. The idea is simple. Minorities united make up the majority. The majority makes change. Women, Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities, and many other groups are all marginalized. We must all stand united, together as one.
Power to the people.