Why I Marched (And I’ll do it again, and again, and again . . .)

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The day after the Women’s March on Washington (or should I say the WORLD!) there were responses to our march such as:

“Don’t tell me I’m not a real woman if I don’t support the March!”

“What rights have you lost?”

“Women aren’t 2nd class citizens!”

“It was pointless!”

And though many of my sibling protesters have refuted these statements already, I want to add my voice to the mix. Who knows, maybe what I say will resonate with someone along the way. You won’t help a single soul by remaining silent.

“Don’t tell me I’m not a real woman if I didn’t support the march!”

Okay, I know I can’t be everywhere at all times, so I certainly can’t see every Facebook post, every tweet, every blog post or article, but I saw a lot. And I still haven’t gotten through all 6 hours of footage from the March, but I’ve seen (or witnessed!) most of it. Not once have I seen, heard, or read anyone say that if you didn’t march or support the March, that you weren’t a real woman.

Sometimes, and I know this can be hard to wrap our minds around, we hear what we expect (or want) people to say. (I’ve done this, by the way.) And I’ve seen it over and over again in conversations about diversity and representation between authors. If I were to say, “As a woman, I support all women,” someone might hear condemnation in that. But it’s not there. I never said you should support all women. That’s a choice.

We sometimes place connotation on something another says that wasn’t there. We might have a point in mind we want to make, and we have to work hard to hear and understand what is being said, not what we think is being said.

I’m not accusing anyone of anything here: just making a point. Before you accuse us of trying to make you feel like less of a woman, maybe look at what you read or saw and make sure it’s actually what you thought it was. Or maybe you’re creating your own narrative because it fits what you want to say. Possibly, there’s something inside of you that needs addressing, not the women who are excited to have gone to the March.

I can’t speak for all 500,000 people in DC (or millions worldwide!), but I saw no shaming of women who didn’t participate. I took part in no shaming of women, and neither did the group of people I marched with, or the thousands around me. I witnessed none of that behavior on Facebook or Twitter and saw none if it on the news. And there were even pro-life people protesting with us and they were not harassed. Even if there were those that participated in shaming, remember that one or two people don’t speak for an entire movement. They certainly don’t speak for me.

I stand for and with my sisters even if they don’t think I need to stand for them. It’s solidarity even in the face of disagreement. Because when push comes to shove, I’ll be there for all my sisters, not just the ones who agree with me.

I march for all women.

 

“What rights have you lost?”

I love having the Constitution and the Bill of Rights thrown in my face like they’re not living, breathing documents whose interpretations haven’t changed over time, and are still changing. Let’s not forget that our first Declaration as rebelling colonies said “all men are created equal” and was written by a man who owned slaves. We’ve long been a nation of contradiction between our ideals and the reality of how we apply them. And no matter what the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or your average politician say, we live in a patriarchal society.

Of course, society is far better now than it was even 50-60 years ago. Mary Tyler Moore was criticized for wearing pants on TV for Pete’s sake! She could only have one scene an episode in pants to appease the moral sensibilities of those poor offended viewers. But is that all we want, just better? Not equal? Should we just “be grateful we have progress at all”? Is that all we expect or accept for ourselves? For our daughters?

It’s 2017 and we still haven’t come out of the full shadow of patriarchy. Women make 80 cents to every dollar a man makes. To be clear, because I’ve heard this argument before, these studies are conducted using the same job, with the same experience and education. And the gap is even worse for women of color and working mothers, with the gap growing larger with age. Based on data accrued 1960-2015, we won’t close that gap until 2059. (That’s 42 years for 20 cents!) And if you take into account that the growth of women’s income has slowed in increase since 2001, it’s likely to be 2152 before the gap disappears. (135 years!!!!)

And that’s just the pay gap. How about a woman needing to defend what she wore, how much she drank, and her behavior in a rape trial? Or a rapist getting only a few months in jail after a brutal, violent rape that will leave that woman scarred for life, because he’s a “good boy” who just “made a bad choice”? And why we teach our girls how to protect themselves, act demure, don’t drink too much, wear clothing to cover, etc., instead of focusing on telling our boys DON’T RAPE!? And how about the fact that the laws restricting our reproductive rights and our bodies are almost entirely written by men who have no laws restricting their reproductive rights and their bodies?

Shall I go on? Attitudes toward working mothers, hell, attitudes toward stay-at-home moms, appropriate feminine behavior, boy’s club attitudes in the workplace, asking husbands to “control” their wives behavior, professionals only speaking to the husband not the wife sitting right there, the poor white male attitude that they have it so rough right now because women have it easy . . .

Yeah, some of those are personal.

Okay, stopping there before I get too fired up. We live in a society where norms are expected of both men and women, and I challenge those norms unequivocally! I cry, and it doesn’t mean I’m weak. I get angry, and it doesn’t ruin my femininity. I can be nice, and I can be nasty. But the patriarchy doesn’t get to define my femininity or my feminism.

And in case you were wondering, smashing the patriarchy benefits men, too. I know opponents like to make it sound like women want to take over and make men submissive, but this is just not true. Feminists are looking for equality, equal footing. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all people are created equal.

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Men need to be free to be who they are and not a societal norm predetermined for them just as much as women do. I want this for my daughter. I want this for my sons.

I march for men, for my husband, my sons, as well as women.

 

“Women aren’t 2nd class citizens!”

I didn’t grow up feeling like a 2nd class citizen. I still don’t. (For the record I don’t recall anyone associated with the March saying we were, either.) But I’m a middle class white woman with a college education, married to a middle class white man with a college education. My day to day experiences reflect my place in society. I have benefits not every person has.

In fact, just being able to attend the March on Washington is a reflection of my privilege. I have a supportive and like-minded husband who was happy to take over my half of caring for our children while I was gone. I could afford the airfare, food and travel expenses from Michigan to DC, even if it means I have to make sacrifices elsewhere, it was a choice I could make. I had friends to stay with in DC, to guide and advise me, and I’ve visited before so I knew my way around and felt comfortable in the city. And I’m able-bodied, so no physical limitations prevented me from standing in the streets of DC for 7 hours. I am privileged in so many ways, and I am not a 2nd class citizen, despite the shades of patriarchy that color our society.

But to be Black, Latina, Native, Asian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, poor, uneducated, LGBTQIA+, disabled, neurodiverse, or any of an infinite number of intersectional identities in the United States is to experience a reality far different from my own. I can never truly know what it is like to move through life with any of these identities, but my inherent privilege compels me to learn as much about them as I can. It is my responsibility to try to understand, feel compassion and empathy for, and most importantly acknowledge and respect the humanity in all people. There is no respecting a people if you don’t have the desire to learn about them, their culture, their struggles. Otherwise, you are just giving lip service to the idea of equality, not feeling it in your heart.

It is my responsibility, nay, my privilege, to help uplift those that I can. What is the point of having privilege if you don’t use it for some better purpose?

So I marched for the women of color who work twice as hard to get half as much.

I marched for the trans women killed in our streets for no other reason than existing.

I marched for all my LGBTQIA+ siblings who often face a choice of hiding who they are or being ridiculed.

I marched for my disabled friends who could never have travelled so far from home & stayed so long.

I marched for the innocent people called terrorists just for being Muslim.

I marched for the women raising children by themselves on food stamps and a prayer.

I marched for the students who learn with outdated books & no technology but strive for college.

I march for all humanity.

 

“It was pointless!”

Protest is as American as baseball. Maybe even more so. Americans were protesting long before the Babe hit that infamous home run. We were born from protest! The Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, Abolitionist protests pre-Civil war, prohibition protests (for and against!), MLK’s March on Washington, Million Man March, Iraq War Protests, and on and on. We are a nation of people who believe it is not only our right but our duty to speak up when we see injustice being done. We know it is our civic duty and our privilege to speak our minds and express our opinions, especially since there are so many in this world who don’t have that option.

So don’t tell me it was pointless. Don’t ever. Because you spit in the faces of those who came before. You erase the people whose shoulders we stood on to get where we are. You belittle the sacrifices and the blood, sweat, and tears wrung from Americans of all kinds who made your life better.

But no sweat. It’s okay. You go ahead and think protesting is pointless. Meanwhile, I’ll be busy.

I march for all women.

I march for men, for my husband, my sons, as well as women.

I march for all humanity.

And it’s never pointless!

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5 thoughts on “Why I Marched (And I’ll do it again, and again, and again . . .)

  1. I can’t remember which of my Facebook friends shared this meme (maybe it was you? IDK) but anyway there was a meme going around that reminded conservative women against the March that the reason they can do things like vote for Trump, get money from their own bank account, etc is due to the suffragists who march. IDK, I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. The cognitive dissonance is strong sometimes.

    Wonderful post! 🙂 Lol, I wish we’d run into each other at the March but given the size of the crowd that would’ve been quite a coincidence if we did!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think I shared that meme, but it sounds like a good one! I knew a lot of writers/bloggers etc. that were at the March, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to meet one of them! That would have been great to run into each other, but the crowds were immense! Which was a really, really good thing. So glad you were able to attend!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Women’s March on Washington | Jennifer Austin – Author

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