Monday, January 23, 2017

Marching for ALL

So much has been written about the Women's March this past Saturday. It almost seems redundant to write about it some more. But I want to remember this day, being part of the right side of history. I'm writing about my experience so I can burn this experience into my brain, and remember how amazing it felt, being part of all that unity and positive energy, coming together, with all different kinds of people, for a common cause.

My friend Amy organized a group going to NYC. I knew I couldn't go to DC because I had a commitment I couldn't change on Sunday morning. I couldn't take the chance of not being back on time from DC, and having no way to control it going by bus. A lot of my local friends were going on the buses.

I'd been on the fence about going to the march in NYC. Just because it didn't really fit into my busy schedule and I didn't have childcare. B works every Saturday, he has no choice. That's just how it works. I thought about bringing E. B wasn't too keen on that. I think if I pressed the issue, he would've been fine with it, but I wasn't sure myself. I wanted to be able to be on the go and what if he needed to go to the bathroom? There were just too many variables.

My friend Megan happened to ask me to walk last Wednesday night. I mentioned going to the march to Megan and how I had no one to watch E. She volunteered to watch him before I could even get it out of my mouth. My first question was, "Why?!". She has two boys and I can't imagine wanting to add another one in. She said that she can't march, so she'll watch E, so I can march for both of us. It just goes to show how it takes a village. Once Megan offered, I knew I had to go. Yes, I was marching for both of us. It was so much bigger than me. Or me and Megan. It's marching for ALL.

Me, before the march.
Realizing why you're involved and participating in peaceful protest is energizing, inspiring, and extremely powerful. I marched for everyone who will be affected by the new administration's policies and for generations after me.There's this ignorant blog post going around social media. I don't want to talk too much about it because I don't want to give the post any credence. It's basically an over privileged woman who plagiarized a bunch of other people's posts & comments and cobbled it together to make her own blog entry. It was about how she doesn't support the march because the march was only about people who think the same and people who hate Trump "even though he hasn't done anything yet". I almost couldn't go on reading it because my brains exploded. It was so poorly thought out and written that I'm most offended as a writer.

She went on to say that she can't take anyone seriously wearing a "va-jay-jay" hat. Well, I can't take someone seriously who can't use the word vagina. Not to mention, it wasn't a vagina hat. It was a pussy hat. It was a pussy hat, with ears, because our President said he can grab women by the pussy. So he can say it and it's okay, but women can't wear a hat and call it pussy because that's crass? Or disgusting? Help me logic, HELP ME.

There was also whole tear about how she can do anything as a woman and women aren't oppressed in any way. For some reason, she then listed a bunch of other countries where atrocities happened to women and called us out for not caring about them. Which of course, she has no idea what any of us care about, and has nothing to do with anything anyway. There were people marching for all kinds of issues- immigration, refugees, marriage equality, autonomy over our bodies, climate, science, education- some or all of which affects everyone. She said none of us were marching "for her". Some people applauded her and said we weren't marching for them either.

Really? Aside from the complete untruth that there were people unwelcome at the march, whether you want to believe it or not, we WERE marching for all of you. It was a WOMEN'S MARCH. It was a march to benefit women. Maybe you personally don't have to worry about any of the issues we were there for- autonomy over our bodies, equal pay, immigration, sexual assault, LGBTQ rights, workplace discrimination and/or harassment, etc. You, YOU, don't need to worry about any of these things.

You can say your daughters, granddaughters and great granddaughters don't need anyone marching for them, because you assume they'll live the same life as you? Unless you are clairvoyant, you don't know what's coming down the pike for your offspring, and their offspring. I'd assume you'd want them to be able to live in a world where they can do and be anything they choose, get equal pay for it, and be able to make choices over their own bodies. Not want them to have abortions. Want them to be able to do whatever they have to do for their health, safely and legally. Regardless of your own personal beliefs for you, at this time. To me, this movement isn't about me and my beliefs. Or what affects just me. It's about the future and the bigger picture. I want to leave this world knowing I left it better for the women after me.

I don't know what my great-grandmother believed in. She probably never even thought about a woman president. Women only got the right to vote in August of 1920, nevermind a woman for president. Someone had to march and protest for me to have the right to vote. For you to have the right to vote. Whether my great grandmother believed in it or not- someone else marched. Someone else protested. Someone else got it done. So don't tell me we weren't marching for you or other girls or women in your family last Saturday. If we have rights it's because people were willing to fight for them. It came a little too late because we got this...person in the white house now, but better late than never.

I've seen people talk about how disgraceful we all were. I posted a photo of some fellow marchers holding a sign that said the F word and "No". That was it. On Saturday at some point, a girl I knew from college wrote on my page, under the photo, "Disgraceful". I thought about answering- I mean, I had an answer- "I know, it's disgraceful that we have to do this at all. It's disgraceful that a man who describes sexual assault in a jokey manner and a right for him to do is our president. It's disgraceful that you have a daughter and think marching peacefully for her rights in the future is disgraceful, but having a man who speaks to people the way he does, makes fun of people with disabilities, and picks apart women's appearances as sexual assault-worthy or not worthy is not disgraceful. Yes, it's disgraceful that he's spending his time fighting with celebrities and trying to discredit any press that writes anything negative (but true) about him. It's pretty disgraceful that he's picking cabinet members that don't believe in science, want to decimate public schooling and who don't even understand the jobs they're being appointed to do".

I didn't answer, at all. I didn't feel like fighting on a day that I had a high on from all the positive energy I was taking in. I just deleted the comment.

I met amazing men and women on Saturday. My fighting spirit was renewed. It got people off their couches watching the Kardashians to do something. Most of the people I see calling us all disgraceful were and continue to be doing it from behind a computer screen. Meanwhile, I'd like to know what they've actually done to better society. What do they stand for? I keep hearing financial conservatism. Are we going to see thousands of people dressed as hundred dollar bills marching? I doubt it. Because most can't articulate what they stand for beyond- "What about Hillary? She's a liar and a criminal! Lock her up!". Someone I know, who lives in a bubble of money and privilege said- "The working white man has been forgotten". I don't even know how to answer that one. Clearly, there are a decent amount of people who believe that. So I guess that's what they stand for? The forgotten working white man. I wish I had an emoticon of my best stare for that one.

I'll take real activism over social media slacktivism any day. It felt so good to be surrounded by people who want to take action over real issues that should concern everyone.

People like this blogger girl want to keep saying how we're all judging Trump "before he does anything". Wake up. He's done enough. We've all been watching since November 10th. Stop saying to give him a chance. We HAVE. And every day, every appointment, every tweet, is worse than the last. How about, that now, the words "alternative facts" are going to go down in history? It's been chance after chance after chance and he's been in office for a few days.

I totally gave him a chance. I said, "Self, maybe he's not Orange Hitler steeped in buffoonery and assholery. He has this chance- maybe he'll take it. He can pick a dream team of the best of the best- the smartest, most accomplished of both sides- say F party lines and create an amazing cabinet of extraordinary people."

Then we got the parade of fools that most average citizens wouldn't even take calls from. A collective douche canoe of ignorant, unqualified, over-privileged, extremely wealthy, self-serving, marble-mouthed, dregs of society who have to defend and back peddle on their racist, antisemitic, xenophobic, homophobic, sexist, anti-science, hateful, past public remarks. I'm not sure I can choose which cabinet pick is most distressing and should be most distressing to everyone, but for today, I'm going with Betsy DeVos, the woman chosen to be Secretary of Education. I'm really wondering how the Trump supporters with kids in public school, and those in public school with disabilities are feeling right about now. I know I'm scared shitless about what this woman would do to public education.

We are not whining and complaining because our candidate lost. We are rightfully scared that we and/or other people will have rights stripped away. We are rightfully scared because of all the things Trump has said he's going to do and the scary assembly of people he's put together to help him do it. Anyone who says we need to just "get over it", really doesn't get it. No one is going to just get over having their rights trampled on. No one should. That's how WWII happened. By people just laying down and rolling over, and saying, "I didn't think they were coming after me". 

Does marching *DO* anything? Yes. It shows that we're here, we're loud, we care, and we're not going away. If anyone wants to pick up a history book, there have been protests all through the time we've been here. If no one protested and marched, women wouldn't vote, black people would still be in the back of the bus and drinking from separate fountains, and gay people would all be in conversion therapy somewhere and definitely NOT be allowed to marry. People are always fighting for something or some group. We all have reaped the benefits of other people's activism, whether we were part of it, believed in it, or not. Even the right to protest is a benefit we have here in this country that doesn't exist in others. 

Do some people give peaceful protest a bad name by using violent protest? Of course. There are always going to be bad eggs with their own negative agenda. However, lumping us all together, calling all the protesters disgusting, just shows ignorance of epic proportion. I know plenty of Trump supporters who are indignant as hell as being lumped in with the KKK. Do I believe that every Trump supporter I know is home goose-stepping in white hoods? Come on. Of course not. So don't throw everyone in a pussy hat in the same category as those looting and causing damage. 

Not to mention, we aren't just marching. We're going to congressman and senators offices. We're emailing, calling, and writing letters. We're actually DOING stuff. 

This fight isn't even about party. It shouldn't be. That's the telling part of this whole thing for me. For the the millionth time, I feel, I will say that I do actually have friends who are registered republicans.  I doubt that they ever voted democrat in a presidential election. I don't know that they've voted democrat in any election. We've disagreed on candidates before, have had intelligent and friendly debate. They still aren't Trump supporters, didn't vote for him, and went out of their way to tell me so. They wanted me to know that this isn't the kind of "republican" they believe in. I also have friends who voted for Trump or might have but we never discussed it on purpose. These are people who are still willing to learn and hear the opposing views. Or said- I don't necessarily believe in everything you believe in, but I'm proud of you for marching. They've wanted to understand why I'm so passionate the other way in our political conversations. At least those are people I can work with.  

Anyone still supporting him- no, sorry. Can't work with you. The only reason you can give at this point is that you're racist. Or just monumentally stubborn. The wall? The WALL? How is he getting Mexico to pay for this wall?? Yeah, he's not. Refugees? Well, if you think fertilized eggs are people but refugee kids aren't, you can't use religion as you're shield. You're racist. That's the only logical answer. You think "alternative facts" and focusing on crowd size are where his focus should be as the leader of the free world. You don't. I know you don't. You're just stubborn. You can't admit you made a really poor choice. 

Total loyalty to your party doesn't make you a patriot. Wanting the best for your country makes you a patriot. Best, by the way, means best for everyone. I'm not sure how any of these cabinet picks points to anything in the realm of "Making America Great Again". Unless you just mean that you want to substitute "great" for "white" and "Christian".

I spoke to the father of one of E's friends yesterday. He said to me that this is good- the uprising, the protesting, etc, even if it doesn't seem that way. It's what incites change. Without opposition, there is no growth. The pendulum swings back and forth and this election lit the fire under people that is needed for real change. We got complacent and that's on us. Now, we're ready to fight. As much as I'm upset at what we're up against, I agreed. That's what I teach my child- to fight for yourself and for those who can't fight for themselves. I really don't know how much I will personally be impacted by all the stupidity Trump and his cabinet want to put into law. I do know that it will affect others drastically. As a mother, I need to BE the change that makes the world better. I need to walk the walk. THAT is why I marched on Saturday. I want my son to know that we don't just look out for ourselves and what's best for our pocket. We look out for others and their needs because we're part of a working society.

So yes, I marched for you. And your daughters, granddaughters, and great-granddaughters. The same way someone marched for me to have choices in this life and the ability to protest and stand up for what I believe in. I also did it wearing a PUSSY hat (and slightly uncomfortable shoes). And I'm proud to be part of this revolution. I'm proud to have walked with and next to so many smart, accomplished, amazing women. I'm not forgetting the men, babies and children who also marched with us. I'm proud of us all. 

I got the link to the video of my friend Patricia Teffenhart, the Executive Director of the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, speaking at the Womens March in Asbury Park, NJ on Saturday. She's amazing. Lucky to know her! 

Look how many people! It was YUGE!

Fellow marchers we met in Duane Reade

Amy, Tricia & Me

Sylvia Rusin, who I might have a girl-crush on. She's like a tiny, beautiful, kick-ass warrior woman.

This is something someone re-posted today that I think is worth a read:

"To all my conservative "sisters" mocking and complaining about this historic protest yesterday, a gentle reminder:

Each time you go to the voting booth to choose your candidate--republican or democrat-- you are doing so because of women who marched. Each time you practice your right to have an opinion about politics and the workings of your democracy, you are doing so because of women who marched.

Each time you get up in the morning and go to a job outside the home to provide for you or your family, you are doing so because of women who marched.

Each time you get a refill on your birth control so that you can plan and decide the best time for your family to have children (or how many), you are doing so because of women who marched.

Each time you open a checking account or credit card, buy a property, or make an independent financial decision, you are doing so because of women who marched.

The things you have today are a product of protest, social unrest, activism, and resistance. Even the most anti-feminist 21st century woman still lives in the shadows of female activists who were willing to fight for generations they would never know. Of course, none of this means that you must subscribe to any particular political party, but I do wish it would cause you to look at protestors with whom you disagree with a degree of respect. The women who marched 100 years ago were also considered deceived and radical. While our struggles are thankfully not identical (and perhaps small in a global context), the spirit of the fight is similar.

I am proud when women march in the streets to reclaim their bodies and I am proud when my students stand on tables to call out racial injustice and I am proud when people "make a fuss" and disrupt the status-quo, and I am even proud when we can argue about it, because that's what it means to live out this messy democracy. Complicated and at moments imperfect protest by ordinary citizens has laid the very foundation of human rights, and yesterday was a reminder that it likely always will." 

- Katie Lynn Jahn

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