on january 21, women marched in the united states and 57 other countries, on all seven continents (even antarctica!), for so many excruciating reasons. women marched to affirm their own lives. it’s unfortunate that so many people saw the women’s march as antithetical to life, because i believe that in order for babies’ lives to be affirmed, the lives of the women carrying them have to come first.
women did march for reproductive rights. they marched for the women who fought hard to flee countries where their families were unsafe, who now fear deportation because of their muslim faith. they marched for the women who fear deportation to mexico, being torn from their children who were born in this country. they marched for the victims who will have to go back to buying their own rape kits if violence against women legislation is undone. they marched because rape culture is a real thing, (not sure? two words: brock turner. two more words: baylor university. there are a million more words i could say about this if you’re still not convinced.) they marched for kids in public schools, and the belief that they deserve to receive an equitable education, regardless of their income or ability. they marched for the babies in nicu wards who will go back to reaching their lifetime health insurance caps before they ever leave the hospital when the aca is repealed. they marched because our great grandchildren deserve clean air, clean water, and to have public lands left to explore. they marched for the endangered species we stand to lose because they are an inconvenience to big corporations. they marched because no matter how far we’ve come, some men still think they can go around talking about lady gaga’s abs like lady gaga owes them something.
women can diverge from soft and nurturing once in a while to be strong and fierce, and it’s a good thing. we’ve come a long way, baby, and we don’t want to give up any ground.
it hasn’t been that long since women could not own property, and not long before that women were property. the property of their fathers, and then their husbands, a condition that reverberates forward through time in ways we haven’t eradicated. that time spanning between amendments 15 and 19 stands as an awkward pause belying that we value women as much as men as a nation. also awkwardly revealing is the failure of our government to ever ratify the equal rights amendment, to this day.
i phrased all of the reasons for marching in terms of “they” because i wasn’t marching that day. i was selling organic vegetables. although i was wearing a pink hat and directing anyone interested to the venue for the local march, i did not get to attend it myself. i wasn’t protesting the day before that, on inauguration day, either. on that day, i was chaperoning fourth graders who were picking up garbage from agate beach. i would have gladly participated in peaceful protests on those days, but other life affirming callings rose to the top. some nasty woman’s gotta sell the organic vegetables and pick up the beach trash.
nasty woman, circa 2000.
while we’re on the subject of life affirming messages, i want to share this beautiful song, written and performed by girls in a music theory class, who were presented with a portion of hillary clinton’s concession speech “to all the little girls.”
one of the most poignant and unifying symbols i came across throughout the turbulent time surrounding the inauguration was a gathering of women on a border bridge between the u.s. and mexico who stood with their hair braided together and hands clasped. i really feel they captured the idea of letting ourselves truly feel empathy for the “other” in such a tangible way.
these issues are gnarly to try to discuss, but it needs to be done. it needs to be done in a way that we acknowledge the humanity in one another. it’s tricky and i’m struggling to find the right words, but once again staying silent isn’t the right option for me. as we transition from black history month to women’s history month, i am still hoping that in some way, my words will encourage dialogue to help those of us who disagree to find more and more common ground.