I know, I know. With a title like that, this post could be going any direction, right? Well, stick with me ’til the end and you can decide for yourself.
Today, myself and half a million other women (and men!) marched in Washington, DC (and millions of others around the globe) for women’s rights.
The experience was unlike anything I’ve ever been through before, and I am forever changed by it. We were shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of thousands of people marching through the streets of Washington, DC a day after one of the most contentious elections in the history of our country.
I expected fierce. I expected loud. I expected drama.
And it was all of those things, but it was so much more. The march was soft and kind. It was generous and giving. It was open and warm. The air was alive–literally electrified–with spirit and excitement and unison. I’ve always spoken of wanting a unified country, but for the very first time I felt it.
Strangers held hands and sang together. People danced and twirled. Chants and mantras filled the air as women helped each other stand taller, stronger, wiser, firmer.
Women offered me free snacks, waters, hats, and other merchandise. We were just sisters, and generosity of spirit ran rampant in the crowd. There were for-profit stands on the sides of the march selling products, but they were all men. Draw whatever conclusions you’d like from that.
There was no question of what we were fighting for in that crowd. Our signs called for equal pay, affordable birth control, safe environments, an end to rape culture, and so much more. We weren’t anti-Trump. We were pro-women. We were afraid. We were brave. We are staring into the future, terrified, but facing it head on and not backing down.
However, here’s where the rub comes.
Upon arriving home, I saw two things online and on the television: support or confusion. There were countless posts praising the marchers, and from the marchers, all around the globe. Do you understand the magnitude of that? All 7 continents, and dozens of countries marched for America, for women, and for American women. When’s the last time you saw a march in downtown Washington, DC for another country? This is record breaking. It is historic. It is unprecedented. We, as Americans, and as humans, owe people around the entire globe a thank you for supporting us in a time where it feels like our own government isn’t. Thank you.
They got it. They were there, or they wanted to be. They saw the purpose. They knew what it meant and they knew why it mattered.
Then there were all the men and women who didn’t get it. Who said on social media that women were already free, so why are we complaining. Who talked on the news and boiled today down to a one topic issue (ie: abortion) and decided the whole thing was shit. Who said women in America have it better than women in some other countries, so we should be grateful. Who said…stop marching. There’s no point. It means nothing. You mean nothing.
And that, ladies, is why this post is called When Marching Isn’t Enough.
They weren’t there. They didn’t see the crowd of extremists with a megaphone shouting “fags will burn in hell” and the crowd of women singing love songs, arms linked, in front of them. They didn’t feel the strength and unity of women smiling and holding their head high despite the men in “Make America Great Again” hats on the side laughed and called out ratings for the women’s attractiveness level as they walked past, and the women who invited those men to march with us anyway because this march is so much greater than a new president. They didn’t see the women who had made hundreds of hats by hand and were distributing them freely to the crowd. They didn’t see the mothers who’d made snack bags for marchers just to make sure we were all okay.
They didn’t see the look on a woman’s face when she realizes her male coworker with less experience and time at the same job makes more than her. They can’t understand the frustration of paying exorbitant fees for birth control and pap smears when a man’s erectile dysfunction pills and prostate exams only cost a small copay. They didn’t feel the flush of humiliation when a strange man gropes us with zero regard for our wishes, reminding us that this body isn’t ours, but rather a dispensable puppet for any man’s fantasy. They didn’t feel the rise in blood pressure, the panic in our lungs, when walking alone and hearing footsteps behind you and quickly wondering what you’re wearing right now–would it look like you wanted it? They didn’t feel that sinking in their gut when the judge tells you the man who raped will only receive 3 months on probation because his future is more important than your justice.
They weren’t there.
So, ladies, bring the march home.
Teach the people around you what “equal rights” really means. Hold your head up high and don’t be afraid to ask for what you know you deserve. Educate the next generations on how we can do this better. We can demand better. Feel the strength of the millions of women who were there today now standing behind you telling you that you can do this. We got you.
You deserve equal rights. You deserve affordable healthcare. You deserve to make your own choices about your body. You deserve to feel safe from sexual assault. You deserve laws that will punish abusers. You deserve the same pay as your male counterparts. You deserve to be defined by who you are, not what sex organs you were born with. You deserve freedom.
It wasn’t enough to just march today and then move on. This isn’t over. This problem doesn’t just go away. In fact, it may get worse. Take the march home, ladies. Take it with you wherever you go.