CONTRIBUTOR

Why I March

Looking ahead to the Women’s March On Washington

12/18/2016 03:28 pm ET | Updated Dec 21, 2016
In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us. ― Women’s March ‘Mission & Vision

It’s the morning after the election and I can’t open my eyes and face the truth:  Donald Trump won the electoral college and will be our new president.  So I continue to sleep.  For the next week, I walk around bleary eyed, still not quite believing that, not only did we not elect our first female president, but also we elected a man with a complete lack of respect for women, an admitted serial sexual assaulter.  I feel powerless, and hopeless, and helpless.  I can’t bear to watch Clinton’s concession speech.  It’s too painful. (Just between you and me, I only just watched Clinton’s concession speech today.  And yes, I still became emotional.)

Then, about 10 days after the election, something occurs to me: I simply cannot allow myself to accept President-Elect Trump as the new normal.  I realize I cannot avoid news for the next four years.  I cannot check out and bury myself in a bubble-like cocoon.  Instead, I know that I must do what we women have had to do periodically since the beginning of the United States of America:  acknowledge a setback of monumental proportions, pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and forge ahead for the fight of a lifetime.  In other words, I forced my eyes to open wide, kind of like Malcolm McDowell in “A Clockwork Orange,” and willed them to gaze purposefully into the future.

Not only did we not elect our first female president, but also we elected a man with a complete lack of respect for women.

But now what?  Die-hard Clinton supporters like myself were not only experiencing raw emotions ― fear, anxiety, anger, profound sadness ― in the days following the political upset to end all upsets, but also the loss of an underpinning.  For we had all known deep down that victory would mean an easier path forward for so many progressive goals.  So, we put our collective energy into electing Hillary.  Now that we had lost that critical battle, what could be done to make the best of a disastrous situation?  Well, it turns out that there have been and will be so many things to be done ― even before Trump is sworn in and certainly afterwards.

I personally donated money to an array of newly vulnerable progressive organizations, like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, Emily’s List and the National Organization for Women (NOW), The Trevor Project and Human Rights Campaign, the NAACP and the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America/Everytown, and more.

I subscribed to publications that advance honest-to-goodness journalism and investigative reporting, like the “New York Times” and the “Washington Post.” (Plus a subscription to “Vanity Fair,” just to get Trump’s goat.)

I signed many petitions:  to stop Steve Bannon, to audit the vote, to protest Trump’s ridiculous appointments, to investigate Russia’s hacking of our election. I picked up the phone to call members of Congress too.

I am boycotting NBC for its decision to air another season of “The Celebrity Apprentice,” and businesses that sell Trump products.

I wrote to electors, imploring them to vote their conscience, and not for Donald Trump, on December 19th.

I didn’t participate in any of the peaceful protests against hatred, but cheered on my friends and those who did.

I continued writing my progressive feminist blog and shared noteworthy action items on my Facebook page.

I joined local organizations that promise to band together to fight against Trump’s threatened policies.

Women’s March on Washington: The Nuts & Bolts

Somehow, the one thing that has made me feel the best in the face of a seemingly insurmountable setback, was registering for the Women’s March on Washington and helping organize volunteers for what is shaping up to be a massive undertaking.  After some hiccoughs early on, we now know some basic truths about this prospectively historic march:

  • The march has been endorsed by a wide range of organizations, including 1199 SEIU, American Indian Movement, Amnesty International, Black Girls Rock, Black Women’s Roundtable, Brown Boi Project, Center for Popular Democracy, CHIRLA, Define American, ERA Coalition,Everything Girls Love, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Feminist Majority Foundation, Life Camp Inc., MADFree, MomsRising, Mothers of The Movement, Power Change, Muslim Women’s Alliance, NAACP New York State Conference, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Domestic Workers Alliance, National Newspaper Publishers Associations,National Organization for Women (NOW), One Billion Rising, Trayvon Martin Foundation, The Gathering for Justice, The National Coalition of Black Civic Participation, United We Dream.  (Martin Luther King, Jr.’s youngest child, Bernice King, who was only five years old when her father was assassinated, has been supportive as well, according to organizers.)
  • The mission of the March is to advance the cause of justice and equality for all American women, regardless of race, religion, sexual identity, gender expression, socioeconomic status, immigration status, age, or disability.
  • Principles of Kingian non-violence pervade the spirit of the march, which is a peaceful testament to our collective concern for our future, and each other, under the Trump Administration.
  • Organizers are working diligently to ensure the safety and well-being of marchers and will “release specific details on how to stay safe” in the coming weeks.  “The decision to bring your children is a personal one,” according to the FAQ section of the official march website, womensmarch.com.

#WhyIMarch

#WhyIMarch is an ongoing hashtag on Twitter and I have enjoyed reading the reasons my fellow marchers give for choosing to participate.  At the center of the reason why I am not only marching, but pouring my heart and soul into this march, is that it advances women’s interests as its primary goal and purpose.  It is this march that is dedicated to the cause of justice and equality for all women.  It is this march that I have high hopes will go down in history with some of the greatest political rallies in American history.  It is this march that makes me feel like so many voices will come together and shout loud and clear that, while we now know that many Americans were fine with electing a known misogynist to the highest office in the land, the rest of us most certainly are not fine with it.  At all.

So why do I more specifically plan to march on January 21st?  Here are some of the most powerful reasons #WhyIMarch:

  • To honor those female warriors before me―the suffragettes, women’s libbers like my now-deceased aunts, trailblazers like Hillary Clinton―and give voice to their concerns in a new era.
  • To join with likeminded, kindred spirits, and feel the power and sense of community when we merge together for a single purpose.
  • To use my voice to make an impact beyond sitting at my computer keyboard.
  • To forcefully and publicly declare that it is wrong and un-American to be sexist or misogynistic, regardless of one’s station in life, wealth, or fame.
  • To speak on behalf of those who are silenced and marginalized, or are too ill or elderly or poor to travel and attend the march themselves.
  • To acknowledge publicly that we live in a highly paternalistic, inherently sexist, and often misogynistic society, even in 2017.
  • To fight for the rights of my daughter (and her daughters) to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and to not be a second class citizen in the country I hold dear.
  • To make clear that women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights, once and for all.
  • To fight for the Equal Rights Amendment, which failed to be ratified in the 1970s due to anti-woman sentiment, and continues to fail to be ratified by the necessary number of states.
  • To show my understanding that there is (to quote Hillary Clinton’s concession speech) “still work to do” and to passionately assert that we will not rest until we ensure that women have the right to control our own bodies, that with hard work and diligence we can break the glass ceilings of our choosing, that we will not tolerate sexual harassment, bullying, and assault by strangers and acquaintances alike, either in person or online, and that working women deserve the same opportunities and pay as our male counterparts.
  • Because I agree wholeheartedly with Hillary when she said on November 9, 2016, “Never stop believing that fighting for what is right is worth” the effort.  I never will.  And neither should you.  Let’s march, ladies!

For more information on the Women’s March on Washington, including how to register (not required but helpful for planning purposes) or to make a donation, click here.  The Women’s March is what we make it.  Let’s make it an epic turning point for women’s rights in this country.

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This piece is adapted from a post that originally appeared December 16, 2016 on my blog, Musings from The FeMOMist.

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