Why I Marched

 

One year ago, I was stuck at home with a sick child and unable to go to the Women’s March in Chicago. I felt — defeated. Deflated. On Saturday, almost a year later, I finally got to march with around 300,000 women, men, and children against hate and injustice.

I know some people want to make these marches about one divisive issue, and one divisive issue only. But that is not what the march was, or is, about to me. Nor was it just about that to many other people, based on the signs I saw and my own perceptions — especially after being there with the throngs of friendly, “normal,” and vocal people of the good city of Chicago.

Last year after the Women’s March, posts on Facebook started popping up about how the women of the women’s marches (across the country and across the globe) were unrepresentative of all women.

I wrote the following in response:

Since the Woman’s March, I have seen a lot of posts, or commentary, on social media voicing opposition to the Women’s March. You know what? I think that’s awesome. Not because I agree with all of it. But because I do agree with your right to have your own opinion and to voice it. One of the reasons I marched [or intended to march] was to protect your freedom of speech – a right I fear is under attack by our new President.[1]

I also marched against every injustice that must be eliminated in our society. I marched for Black Lives Matter. I marched against Muslim registries. I marched to keep the ACA in place. I marched for children with disabilities.[2] I marched for my friends with life-threatening illnesses. I marched for sane environmental policies. I marched for Water is Life. I marched for my daughters’ futures. I marched in opposition to the new President’s cabinet choices. And yes, I marched against him, too.

But mainly, I marched in support of the Chicago March’s core message, stated on its Facebook page: “We are people of diversities more numerous than can be mentioned here, and we stand together to protect each of them. We stand against hate in all forms and against targeting any groups or individuals. For ourselves and others, we express our right to respect and acceptance without bias or persecution.”[3]

I would like to think that we could all agree on that central message and march against hate and injustice everywhere.[4]

I have read a lot of posts saying: “The march does not speak for all women,” or “The march doesn’t represent me.” Of course the Women’s March did not speak for all women. But it did organize around the central premise of protecting all women – be it from unconstitutional laws, or ill-conceived policy. (What defines “ill-conceived policy” is, of course, open to debate. What defines the Constitution is not[5].)

Nevertheless, I marched, in part, for your right to disagree with me. And while not every woman there may represent you, there might have been some there who did. The march was incredibly diverse in people, opinions, issues and beliefs. Not all women at the march speak for all women, just as not all women who did not march speak for all women. I would never presume to speak for all women on any issue. But there is common ground to be found between marchers and non-marchers alike. Lumping all marchers together and calling them offensive and insulting names (not saying that you did, but many did), is just as unfair as calling all Trump-voters racists and lumping them in with the KKK.

I have friends with debilitating and/or life-threatening illnesses. I marched for them, too. Without the Affordable Care Act, they may never be able to get health insurance again. I do not know how they will afford their treatment without health insurance.

I marched on behalf of sexual assault victims. We put a sex offender in the highest office in the land, when they are normally not allowed in government housing. Trump’s rise to power highlights our country’s rape culture[6] and the dominance of white male privilege.[7]

Finally, I marched for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, which still does not have bipartisan support. I marched for the end of systemic inequality in women’s lives. To quote another response to the march’s opposition at length:

“You are not equal. Even if you feel like you are. You still make less than a man for doing the same work. You make less as a CEO, as an athlete, as an actress, as a doctor. You make less in government, in the tech industry, in healthcare….

…You still have to pay taxes for your basic sanitary needs.

You still have to carry mace when walking alone at night. You still have to prove to the court why you were drunk on the night you were raped. You still have to justify your behavior when a man forces himself on you.

You still don’t have paid (or even unpaid) maternity leave. You still have to go back to work while your body is broken. While you silently suffer from postpartum depression.

You still have to fight to breastfeed in public. You still have to prove to other women it’s your right to do so. You still offend others with your breasts.

You are still objectified. You are still catcalled. You are still sexualized. You are still told you’re too skinny or you’re too fat. You’re still told you’re too old or too young. You’re applauded when you “age gracefully.” You’re still told men age “better.” You’re still told to dress like a lady. You are still judged on your outfit instead of what’s in your head. What brand bag you have still matters more than your college degree….

….You are still worse off if you are a woman of color, a gay woman, a transgender woman. You are still harassed, belittled, dehumanized.

Your daughters are still told they are beautiful before they are told they are smart. Your daughters are still told to behave even though “boys will be boys.” Your daughters are still told boys pull hair or pinch them because they like them.

You are not equal. Your daughters are not equal. You are still systemically oppressed.

Estonia allows parents to take up to three years of leave, fully paid for the first 435 days. United States has no policy requiring maternity leave….

…New Zealand’s women have the smallest gender gap in wages, at 5.6%. United States’ pay gap is 20%.

Iceland has the highest number of women CEOs, at 44%. United States is at 4.0%.

The United States ranks at 45 for women’s equality. Behind Rwanda, Cuba, Philippines, Jamaica.” [8]

Before the March, some of my more conservative friends and I talked about our concerns about how the March’s messaging would be received. But just because the messaging did not come perfectly wrapped up in a neat, conservative package does not mean that it was all without merit. There is hateful rhetoric spewing forth on both sides, so it a bit like the pot calling the kettle black to say that the March was offensive to your sensibilities.[9]

If nothing else, I hope we can agree that freedom of peaceful assembly (and it was peaceful[10]) is a hallmark of our democracy, which even the President could not deny.[11]  However, if you still do not feel or believe that the March represented you in any way, shape, or form, then I guess we must agree to disagree. “Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.”

Econ-mom: Law-mom, I applaud you for marching.  We went to a monster truck rally, so I’m not sure what kind of citizen that makes me.  But my boys did get to see a female driver win the freestyle competition, so that was some pretty awesome girl power for their (and my) first monster truck experience!

[1] E.g.,  https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/jan/24/journalists-charged-felonies-trump-inauguration-unrest; http://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/federal-agencies-trump-information-lockdown-234122; http://occupydemocrats.com/2017/01/25/200-arrested-inauguration-protesters-just-handed-maximum-punishment/; http://abovethelaw.com/2017/01/law-professors-that-spoke-out-against-jeff-sessionss-nomination-subjected-to-records-request/; http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/four-more-journalists-get-felony-charges-after-covering-inauguration-unrest/ar-AAmbHUN?ocid=msnbcrd

[2] http://www.vox.com/first-person/2016/11/9/13576712/trump-disability-policy-affordable-care-act

[3] https://www.facebook.com/pg/WomensMarchOnChicago/about/?ref=page_internal

[4] See e.g., https://www.splcenter.org/20161129/ten-days-after-harassment-and-intimidation-aftermath-election; http://www.thv11.com/mb/news/local/ark-treasury-employee-mocks-womens-march-says-gay-jokes-okay-under-trump/391316547

[5] Okay, it is a little bit. But that is a topic for another paper.

[6] There are scores of accounts of how publishing anything incendiary over the internet results in death and rape threats – primarily directed towards women. Gamergate is just one scary example of online harassment. E.g. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/dec/01/gamergate-alt-right-hate-trump

[7] https://goetschblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/05/what-a-vote-for-trump-says-to-black-americans/;

https://goetschblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/16/its-not-too-late-to-do-whats-right/

[8] https://medium.com/@dinachka82/about-your-poem-1f26a7585a6f#.vyq5wxox0

[9] E.g. http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/matt-walsh-lets-not-insult-women-by-calling-that-shameful-nonsense-a-womens-march/; http://progressnownm.org/2017/01/24/citing-donald-trump-new-mexico-city-councilor-says-women-have-a-right-to-be-slapped-if-they-protest-trump/

[10] http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/peace-positivity-massive-women-s-march-make-voices-heard-d-n710356

[11] https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/823174199036542980