Everyone’s Got an Opinion on the March.

Well… the Women’s March on Saturday certainly stirred up a lot of opinions.  Social media has been full of tweets and posts and blog articles, and I’m about to join in.

I participated in the Los Angeles march, and it was the most optimistic day I’ve had since Trump announced he was entering the race to be the Republican nominee.  Why the optimism?  Do I believe that Trump looked at the pictures, smacked himself on the forehead and said, “Wow, all these people think I’m wrong … maybe I should listen to what they’re saying, after all the president is a public servant,”?

No, silly.

The optimism stemmed from witnessing the crowd around me, and what a crowd – 750,000 people and no violent outbursts.  To be fair, LA is so overwhelmingly liberal minded that it was hard to find anyone at the march who didn’t share the sentiments of the other 749,999 folks in their vicinity. And so sure were we all of being amongst like-minded folk that there were loads of kids in the crowd (arms covered in sharpie scrawled phone numbers.. just in case).  Then I saw the news and realized what happened in LA, happened worldwide – millions upon millions of people marching with passion and compassion.

In fact in the thousands of signs I saw, there were only two that were anti-feminist: one that read All American Women Are Whores; the other sign was at the other end of the anti-feminist spectrum with a message that implied the superiority of women over men.  (Really sorry – can’t remember the exact wording, it wasn’t as vehement a declaration as the first sign, but I do remember seeing it as a declaration of misandry, not feminism.)  In both cases, people just left them to it, there was no hurling insults or physical assault.  Now of course I only saw them briefly, maybe there were some heated exchanges at other times during the day for them, especially if it were those two that happened to meet each other.  But it seemed to me that whilst there was plenty of passion in the march, there was no anger.  The most angry person I saw all day was the guy carrying the All American Women Are Whores sign, but that could have also been fear mixed with defiance.  I know if the tables were reversed and I was at a Trump rally, carrying a sign saying “All Trump supporters voted in a self-confessed sex molester”, I’d be speed walking through that crowd with a stay-the-fuck-away-from-me look on my face too.

There were people from all different demographics, different ethnicities, age-groups, sexual orientation and, of course, gender.  And there were so many men in the crowd.  I found it uplifting that for every man who’s ever said or done something negative to me strictly because I was female, there were another hundred out there on the march saying that isn’t fair, that isn’t right.

There were also many, many different signs (My favourite? The one that said, “LET’S TALK ABOUT THE ELEPHANT IN THE WOMB”), letting you know what was important to the person carrying the sign: climate change, Black Lives Matter; say no to the wall; I’m With Her; Planned Parenthood; no Muslim register; my body my choice; impeach Trump; LGBTQ rights; grabbing women by their genitalia is not acceptable beahaviour… yep, people are marching because there’s a lot to be said.

Which brings me to something I’ve been seeing a lot on social media from people who did not support the march.  “Why?” they ask.  “Why are they marching?  What’s the point of this march?  It’s supposed to be a women’s march but it seems to just be an anti -Trump march, or a pro-democrat march.  This march is a lie. What rights don’t women have?  Women are heard, they have voices.  They have equal pay.  Everyone just needs to work hard and get health insurance.  If you don’t want to get pregnant then either don’t have sex or use contraception.  Why are they being whining liberals.  They just need to accept the election results and get over it.  Hillary lost.”

There have been many responses to commentary of this ilk.  There have been responses to those responses.   The theme of “I’m just like you but I’m not like you because I’m better than you,” is strong on both side of the fence.  As is the theme of “How dare you use your opinion to bash my opinion!”  There are people saying, “I march for all women”, and there are women replying, “Oh no you don’t.  Not for me you don’t.”  There are people who say “You’re American you don’t have real problems like other women in the world.”  To which there are people saying, “First of all, this is a global march, I’m marching for equality all over the world.  Secondly…. are you sure about that?  The USA is ranked no. 45 in gender equality by the global gender gap report. 

(By the way, it’s all neatly hiding that today Trump said he would give tax incentives to companies that brought their industries back to American soil, and heavily tax those that did not… thereby giving his own company, oh wait – his children’s company, completely free of nepotism and self-interest- a butt load of moolah.)

One thing that really stood out to me amongst the commenters were the women who said they did not support the march but who had in their own lives been raped and abused; suffered from not being able to afford adequate health care; made a low wage, or no wage at all.  All this they had suffered, yet they did not support a march where women were saying, “Hey, we think women should get paid the same as men.  We think that we should decide what we can and can’t do with our bodies.  We think that a man who sexually assaults women – and sees nothing wrong with his actions –  should not be leading the country.”  After going through all that, and coming out strong, or still being in the thick of it… why wouldn’t you say, “Equal pay?  Making it clear that sex assault is not okay?  Having a say in what I can do with my body?  That sounds okay… I could get on board with that.” Maybe they don’t like the other reasons people are marching.

With all this in mind, I started writing a list of reasons why I marched.  I had it up to sixteen lengthy paragraphs, concerning a multitude of civil rights; and the terror of having a pathological liar, a bully, a conman, a sex molester, at the helm of a global superpower.  But basically I marched for the same reason that some women chose not to march, because I have beliefs that are important to me.  I condensed the list, you can see it below.

  1. I believe we’re in trouble. All of us.  I don’t have the solution, but I believe it involves courage, unity, and compassion.  Tremendous compassion.

 

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