| Catherine made this paper heart and I sewed it onto my shirt |
* UPDATED * After publishing this post, a friend posted a link to a response written for the women who don’t understand why other women marched. It put into words what I couldn’t and I wanted to share the link to Dina Leygerman’s Medium Corporation site. It may help illuminate one of the many reasons why I marched on Saturday. The full response is at the very end of this post. It is an excellent read.
This is not and will never be a blog where I push my personal, social, religious and political agenda. But, every once in awhile something momentous happens in my life that brings me to a fork in the road. It requires me to be human, more personal and vulnerable with you. It exposes my feelings and beliefs which may or may not be something you agree with. And that’s okay as long as we both agree on one fundamental principle. We both have equal rights. And further, we must defend each other’s freedom to have them and behave in a respectful manner, even when we disagree.
No matter what side of the fence you are on, kindness is the answer.
Difference of opinion is really hard sometimes. Believe me, I want to shake my head in disbelief at some of the things I see and hear. And I’m laughing because I know that there are people who think the same about me. It is especially difficult to keep an open mind in this highly charged political climate where are our country is so radically divided. It feels incredibly polarized and it is frustrating to those who believe that there is a middle ground we can agree upon if we listen to one another.
I remind myself that our society would never evolve if we all agreed on the same thing. No advancements would be made without new ideas, perspectives and different opinions. It’s in the friction between two opposing ideas where the magic happens. It is not something to be afraid of.
Something extraordinary happened over the weekend that causes a departure from my typical blog posts. I exercised my First Amendment rights on Saturday, and I am going to blog about them today.
Best Photos from the Women’s March
I sat at our kitchen table with my 4 year-old daughter, Catherine. She ate dinner while I finished hand sewing cat ears on a knit hat that I had dyed pink. When it was finished, I tried on the hat for her and did my best kitty imitation. It was Friday night, and I had no idea of the sheer magnitude of what I was about to become part of the next day. The Women’s March on Washington.
Conceived in the late hours of election night, the Women’s March on Washington all began with a frustrated Facebook post by Hawaii grandmother Teresa Shook. “What if women marched on Washington around Inauguration Day en masse?” she wrote on her wall. What started as a single facebook post suggesting a Solidarity March in Washington, D.C. to affirm that “women’s rights are human rights”, went viral. Obviously, not everyone can travel to Washington, D.C. and the idea of sister marches in different places took hold. It grew into a world-wide event, with an estimated 4.8 million women, men and children marching in 673 cities on January 21, 2017. I am still trying to wrap my head around the numbers.
When my friends and I arrived at the Stamford, CT sister march on Saturday, we quickly realized that it was much larger than the organizers planned for. I was expecting to attend a rally and march with about 800 people – and it was easily much larger. Later, we learned that the police estimated the crowd to be approximately 5,000. As the day unfolded, the original projections for almost every city were significantly underestimated and the realization of what was happening became very meaningful.
I spent the rest of the day staring in awe at my facebook feed. Images from all over the world continued to come in and they didn’t stop. I saw things like “Buenos Aires, Argentina is with you” and “Standing in Solidarity from Kampala, Uganda” and “60,000 strong in St. Paul, MN.” Millions of people from every continent in the world showed up in a peaceful demonstration to send a powerful message to the world that they will defend the rights that are important to them.
Here are just a few of the thousands of photos that captured the spirit of this movement.
| a Denver, Colorado Police Officer getting some hugs because of his pink hat |
| Salt Lake City, Utah |
| South Florida |
| Sacramento, California |
| Steward, Alaska |
| Paris, France |
| Botswana, Africa |
| a one-woman march by an American woman that lives in a small isolated village in France |
| not sure where this trifecta of babes are from |
| my friends and I linked arms for the march, I have their back and they have mine |
| my cheek tat that reads “why I march” and the paper heart made by the person who I marched for |
Saturday, January 21, 2017 is a day that I will never forget. I was counted.
You Are Not Equal. I’m Sorry.
A post is making rounds on social media, in response to the Women’s March on Saturday, January 21, 2017. It starts with “I am not a “disgrace to women” because I don’t support the women’s march. I do not feel I am a “second class citizen” because I am a woman….”
This is my response to that post.
Say Thank You
Say thank you. Say thank you to the women who gave you a voice. Say thank you to the women who were arrested and imprisoned and beaten and gassed for you to have a voice. Say thank you to the women who refused to back down, to the women who fought tirelessly to give you a voice. Say thank you to the women who put their lives on hold, who –lucky for you — did not have “better things to do” than to march and protest and rally for your voice. So you don’t feel like a “second class citizen.” So you get to feel “equal.”
Thank Susan B. Anthony and Alice Paul for your right to vote.
Thank Elizabeth Stanton for your right to work.
Thank Maud Wood Park for your prenatal care and your identity outside of your husband.
Thank Rose Schneiderman for your humane working conditions.
Thank Eleanor Roosevelt and Molly Dewson for your ability to work in politics and affect policy.
Thank Margaret Sanger for your legal birth control.
Thank Carol Downer for your reproductive healthcare rights.
Thank Sarah Muller for your equal education.
Thank Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Shannon Turner, Gloria Steinem, Zelda Kingoff Nordlinger, Rosa Parks, Angela Davis, Malika Saada Saar, Wagatwe Wanjuki, Ida B. Wells, Malala Yousafzai. Thank your mother, your grandmother, your great-grandmother who did not have half of the rights you have now.
You can make your own choices, speak and be heard, vote, work, control your body, defend yourself, defend your family, because of the women who marched. You did nothing to earn those rights. You were born into those rights. You did nothing, but you reap the benefits of women, strong women, women who fought misogyny and pushed through patriarchy and fought for you. And you sit on your pedestal, a pedestal you are fortunate enough to have, and type. A keyboard warrior. A fighter for complacency. An acceptor of what you were given. A denier of facts. Wrapped up in your delusion of equality.
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 don’t have full rights over your own body. Men are still debating over your uterus. Over your prenatal care. Over your choices.
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 being abused by your husband, by your boyfriend. You’re still being murdered by your partners. Being beaten by your soulmate.
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.
Singapore’s women feel safe walking alone at night. American women do not.
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.
But I get it. You don’t want to admit it. You don’t want to be a victim. You think feminism is a dirty word. You think it’s not classy to fight for equality. You hate the word pussy. Unless of course you use it to call a man who isn’t up to your standard of manhood. You know the type of man that “allows” “his” woman to do whatever she damn well pleases. I get it. You believe feminists are emotional, irrational, unreasonable. Why aren’t women just satisfied with their lives, right? You get what you get and you don’t get upset, right?
I get it. You want to feel empowered. You don’t want to believe you’re oppressed. Because that would mean you are indeed a “second-class citizen.” You don’t want to feel like one. I get it. But don’t worry. I will walk for you. I will walk for your daughter. And your daughter’s daughter. And maybe you will still believe the world did not change. You will believe you’ve always had the rights you have today. And that’s okay. Because women who actually care and support other women don’t care what you think about them. They care about their future and the future of the women who come after them.
Open your eyes. Open them wide. Because I’m here to tell you, along with millions of other women that you are not equal. Our equality is an illusion. A feel-good sleight of hand. A trick of the mind. I’m sorry to tell you, but you are not equal. And neither are your daughters.
But don’t worry. We will walk for you. We will fight for you. We will stand up for you. And one day you will actually be equal, instead of just feeling like you are.
~ Dina Leygerman, 2017