On January 19, 2019, The Departed (ie: a close-knit group of friends I made through The Skimm) descended on Washington, DC for the controversial Women’s March.
That commentary is good enough, right? No? Okay. Not kidding you – I considered posting that picture, that caption, and stopping right there. Why? Because my decision to go has been met with varying degrees of applause and criticism. The applause has been great and, quite honestly, expected – negative reactions were rare and often included statements about how they guess I hate Jewish people now (as a head’s up to people who think I didn’t hear about it, I do, in fact, understand the criticisms pertaining to the purported anti-Semitism but more on that later).
The negative reactions weren’t entirely awful, though; most just involved complete avoidance. Honestly, I’m not sure which is worse: condescending remarks or complete silence. Both insinuate the other person thinks I’m stupid for showing up or – better yet – uneducated and following the crowd like a sheep. The latter is an awful feeling and I’m sure that’s exactly the intent. It’s also another way of telling me to shut up so they can be at peace in the cushy world they’ve fabricated.
As a result, I’ve spent a lot of time with my mouth closed so I wouldn’t be criticized by people who go out of their way to not understand my point of view, just so they can be comfortable in my presence and their delusions. But as one of my friends said in her own post, “I’m tired of keeping quiet so that others may continue being comfortable.”
So here it is in laymen’s terms for the willfully ignorant: The march’s purpose is outlined on the main website. Blogs and articles have been written ad nauseum about why it exists. Many marchers even include reasons on their signs or social media posts, including my own — two years ago today, I posted the following to my Facebook page:
I believe in:
- Access to affordable healthcare for all
- Marriage equality
- Reproductive rights
- Equal pay for equal work
- The ability to worship (or not worship) whoever you want
- Quality public education #dumpdevos
- Supporting the arts nationwide
- Climate change
- Power in numbers
Pretty sure my reasons were clear as crystal but I still received a number of comments and messages saying, “I just don’t understand why you’re marching.”
*grips bridge of nose between fingers and mumbles under breath*
You is smart. You is kind. You is capable of comprehending words on a website if you gave two shits.
Listen: there are pretty terrible things happening in our country right now. Things that I don’t witness because I’m privileged enough to be a white middle-class woman whose political leanings are often taken more seriously thanks to the whitewashing of second-wave feminism. My world isn’t perfect but I have a platform and I can use it to help rise the tide. If you’ve been around the block enough times, you’ll know the end result is the lift of all boats.
Whether or not what I have to say may make a difference isn’t the biggest thing for me. As a lone woman, it will always be hard to get my message out there, which is why it’s important to show up in hoards and scream your lungs out. More importantly, however, my goal with this whole movement is to open my ears and LISTEN. I know that’s hard for people who have closed their eyes and shut their ears to the world falling down around them but sorry not sorry – you don’t get to erase the experiences of anyone else just because you have a comfort zone. Please understand that there are people in this world who don’t know what that zone is and HEAR them.
I think it’s also important to note that the march is collective AND individual. There are guiding principles, absolutely, but everyone has their own reasons. For some, it’s acknowledging that people of color have been previously ignored in women’s movements, or that true sisterhood trumps cisterhood. Opponents need to understand that this movement is still getting its legs and the foundation is only just building. It won’t be perfect today – or probably ever.
Basically, my reasons for marching won’t be the same as yours won’t be the same for the woman standing next to you, and in the immortal words of the poet Jay-Z, “What you eat don’t make me shit.” It’s not our roles as human beings to tell other people how their experiences should make them feel.
PS: For people wondering about why there were multiple marches or why anti-Semitism played a role in this year’s march, I highly recommend listening to this episode of The Daily. My friends and I were debating attending as a result of the controversy but decided to go after reading and listening more – this podcast helped me understand what was going on behind-the-scenes.
Ultimately, the point is to SHOW UP. Pick a march and get out there. There’s nothing the GOP would love more than to see this fresh wave disband and we can’t let that happen due to the lead org’s infighting.
Please don’t give up; know that there’s a sea of women and men here to support you. And also, don’t give up on me. As a white woman, I’ve got a lot to learn and a ways to go. I’ll never fully understand everything in this world but I want to do better.