You say you didn’t need the march. Many of you criticized it, waved it away as a cry for attention, and frowned on those of us who participated for turning ourselves into “victims.” You said it was unnecessary because you already have equality. You called us “special snowflakes” and rolled your eyes at the notion that we want to be treated so “delicately.”
I know you don’t think you needed the march. I know you think that, in this day and age, you have all of the rights and privileges entitled to men. Years ago, I used to think the same thing. That’s what the patriarchy told me, so that’s what I believed.
It took me a long time to realize that what the patriarchy was really saying was, “Sit down and shut up.”
I know you believe that since you can vote, and get a job, and buy a house, and have a credit card, and drive a car, you have equality. On the surface and without further examination, it certainly seems that way.
But what happens if you look deeper? If you begin to peel away the neat layers of the status quo and take a peek at what’s inside?
It looks like a group of men signing legislation about what women can and cannot do with their reproductive organs.
It looks like the belief that girls should be pure and polite, but “boys will be boys.”
It looks like a judge asking a rape victim why her skirt was so short and wondering aloud whether she was asking for it. It looks like convicted rapists not even serving a single day of jail time, or being given laughably short sentences.
It looks like school dress codes that sexualize the knees and shoulders of young girls, shaming them into covering up and teaching them at a young age that everybody is looking at their bodies.
It looks like 77 cents to the dollar (if you’re white - it’s even less than that if your skin happens to be darker).
It looks like media glorification of a certain body type that is the “correct” way for a woman to look, despite the fact that only 5% of women are even physically capable of achieving it.
It looks like catcalls, street harassment, and sexual entitlement - as though women are nothing more than viewing pleasure.
It looks like a tax on essential feminine hygiene products such as tampons and sanitary pads, while men are able to purchase Rogaine and Viagra tax-free.
It looks like the general public voting a man into the country’s highest office despite the fact that he has openly admitted to grabbing women by the genitalia without their consent.
But let’s say that none of this is even true. Let’s say that you are equal. Let’s say that I just fabricated every one of those statements (despite the fact that there’s ample documentation to back it all up). Let’s say YOU really didn’t need this march, because none of those issues affect your life in any way.
If that’s the case, you have privilege, you’re blind to it - and you’re being appallingly, devastatingly selfish.
What about the gay, bisexual, transgender, and gender fluid people who are harassed, beaten, and murdered simply for being who they are?
What about the black people who must fear for their lives at a routine traffic stop, because the very color of their skin causes police officers to perceive them as a violent threat?
What about the Native Americans who are still being robbed of their land, culture, language, health and dignity?
What about the undocumented immigrants who are simply trying to create a better life for themselves and their families? What about the children who lie awake at night, worrying about their parents being deported?
What about the mosques that are firebombed? The black churches into which automatic weapons are fired by white supremacists? The doctors who are killed at Planned Parenthood clinics?
What about the sexual assault and domestic violence victims who weren’t taken seriously, or who were afraid to report the incident altogether because they knew the likelihood of being blamed for the violent crimes perpetrated against them?
What about the people who work three jobs and still struggle to feed their families? The millions of children who go to bed hungry, while CEOs and top executives receive tax breaks that further line their already overstuffed pockets?
What about the women that fought, suffered, and died for the rights YOU now have - rights they never even got to experience?
When I traveled to Washington DC to march, I did so because my eyes are open to the many inequalities I face as a woman. However, I didn’t march only for me.
I marched for all women. I marched for people of color. I marched for the LGBT population. I marched for the undocumented. I marched for religious and ethnic minorities. I marched for the disabled. I marched for the impoverished. I marched for the children of this country, who will grow up to be our future.
I marched because there are people in this country who need help ― people who lack privilege ― and I want to help make the world a better place for them. Not just for me.
Believe it or not, I even marched for you.
So when you tell me you didn’t need the Women’s March, I am left to believe one of two things.
1. You are unaware of the suffering of marginalized groups, or
2. You choose to turn a blind eye to it, either because you deny that the suffering exists, or because you somehow believe that it is just and correct.
This leaves you with two choices. Either open your eyes, look around, start listening to people with less privilege than you, and commit to learning more - or admit that you’re selfish and you just don’t really give a fuck about anyone other than yourself and your immediate circle.
It’s your move. What’s it going to be?