I’m still in a little shock at how the word “pussy” has invaded my life. A word that never once escaped my lips before, it’s now just a part of the vernacular, usually used next to the word “grabber” or “hat” in my circles, but still implying that most private and sensitive part of a woman’s body. I haven’t quite adjusted to that. I’m not sure I want to: even though I’m glad to take back some of the power of the word, I’d rather whisper it with urgent instructions close to the ear of a lover than see it in the newspaper every day.
And so I march.
In a couple of days, Tessa and I will board an airplane for the first time in a few years and head across the country to DC to march with hundreds of thousands of other women, including a handful of our friends, wearing our pink hats. This trip is A Very Big Deal.
As a single mom who left the workplace for eight plus years, and now works in nonprofit, and owns a big drafty 1923 house, air travel hasn’t exactly been a priority. (Orthodonture, health insurance, and the mortgage have been top priorities, for starters.) It is a big financial sacrifice that makes me feel slightly panicky: airfare, hotels, and such are not cheap.
But we’re going.
We’re going because when I was a little girl, I read The Diary of Anne Frank, and I wept at what they did to her. I was simultaneously heartbroken and livid: how COULD they? I vowed that, in my lifetime, if I ever had a chance to save the Anne Franks of the world, I would. I vowed that I would always stand up for what was right, even at a sacrifice to myself. That promise is deep within me.
It’s time to fulfill my promise, to make the statement out loud with my life. It’s time to take action, to make a statement, to use my voice with all the power I can muster.
At first, I thought this march was just about refusing to have my pussy grabbed, and being madder than hell that as a woman I likely get $0.78 on the dollar. But since I bought my tickets, there is so much more to be mad about: I’m really angry that my daughter might not have access to birth control when she needs it, that my GBLTQ friends who fought so hard for the right to be treated as full citizens with the right to marry might slide backwards into less-than. And I’m really pretty freaked out that in 2018 I might not have access to healthcare, because I buy on the open market and the words “breast cancer” are in my medical files. I’m livid that our nation thinks that any of that is even remotely okay.
But it’s so much more than that. It’s Syrian children with nowhere to go; I see Anne Frank in every one of their faces. It’s the local mosque – even in my uber liberal blue city – being vandalized, multiple times since the election. It’s the belief among some politicians that being gay is something that can be taught away, it’s the belief that immigrant families are less-than, that their children have no rights. It’s the belief that “locker room talk” doesn’t mean anything. It’s the belief that basic decency and conventions – like not calling people names, and shouting, and lying – don’t matter anymore, that as long as you are a powerful white man, you can do whatever you want, use tricks, say whatever you wish, throw out insults and hold public temper tantrums, without repercussions.
It’s the belief that asking someone to avoid hate speech is “censorship.” It’s belief in the free press, and fear that it’s being shut down in some less than subtle ways.
If our elected leader (how did that happen?!) cannot control himself to speak with dignity and inclusion, we will rise up and show him how it is done, make our voices heard.
And so I’m going to march.
I’m going to take my thirteen year old daughter by the hand, and pretend that I am brave. I’m going to nervously scan the crowds for signs of unrest, for Trump supporters to throw out words like “libtards” that might be followed by fists or rocks or worse. I’m going to look into the eyes of police officers and hope that they are scanning the crowd to see if their wife, sister, neighbor, friend is in attendance, and not looking for an excuse to do something else.
I’m going to march with my sisters and brothers, to say that we believe in love. That all PEOPLE are created equal, that we should receive equal pay for equal work, that black lives matter, that love is love. That black boys deserve the same rights as my blond haired blue eyed daughter.
I am going to walk in the footsteps of Martin Luther King, Junior and think about his dreams, and my dreams, and how those dreams are really the same thing. I’m going to fight for myself and my daughter and to break through our fears, and I’m going to fight for the women who are still behind me, for the Hispanic women who make only $0.54 while I make $0.79, and for every woman who has been sexually assaulted and needs to know that I will stand up for her, help her find her voice.
I’m not woke. I’m so embarrassed by that, but I know I have a lot left to learn. I’m rubbing the sleep from my eyes, red faced at how out of it I have been, and I’m listening, asking questions, speaking up. I will probably say the wrong thing frequently but it is better than saying nothing at all so I’ll keep blundering until I get it right.
I’m going to teach my daughter that this is how it’s done: we march. We sing. We hold signs. We speak with love, our voices are strong and powerful and united, and we force the quaver in our voices down and just squeeze each other’s hands when we get nervous, but we keep going. We reach out, we extend friendship, and we hope, and we laugh, and we sometimes cry, but we don’t stop, and there is power even in our tears.
It’s time. Are you marching, too? Why do you march? I’d love to hear from you, to learn from you. See you in DC!