On January 21, 2017, millions of people in the U.S. gathered to exercise their constitutional right to peaceably assemble. In fact, this type of act took place all over the world. Initially, the Women’s March on Washington was organized to take place in Washington D.C. the day after Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States; but, other major cities, including Austin, Texas, soon followed suit and organized marches of their own in the name of the same cause. When I heard that this event would take place, I immediately thought, “I HAVE TO GO! This is my chance to be the imagined 1960s version of myself!” But then I thought, “Well, maybe I shouldn’t. What if it turns violent? What am I really marching for?” I remembered how long it took me to get over my (at times crippling) fear of the uncertain and things beyond my control and knew that I could not let that same fear creep back into my life and prevent me from attending this, what would be, historic event in our country. So, it was decided. I would go. But then there was that second question. Why am I really marching? Many people are asking this question today. Why are all of these people marching? What are they trying to accomplish? Many people are angry by these demonstrations. Some people are saying that the people who marched need to just get over the fact that “their candidate” didn’t win and immediately assume that this type of peaceful assembly must mean the same thing for every single one of the millions of people that participated. I cannot speak for every single woman, man, or child who marched yesterday. I can only speak for myself – a 28 year old, white American female, who has not voted in some past elections, recognized for myself the importance of that privilege, and most certainly voted in this year’s presidential election. So, here’s why I marched:
I marched because I believe that women are continually marginalized in our society. I marched because I believe there should be more women to hold political office. I marched because many male (and some female) law-makers want to take away a woman’s right to make a choice about her own body, deny affordable access to necessary and preventative healthcare for issues that only women have. I marched because I want to change the sexism that is engrained in our society and does not seem to be a problem to many of our political leaders. I marched because of the defeated look on the faces of many of my middle school students after the election. I marched because I believe victims of rape and sexual assault do not always get the justice they deserve. I am lucky to have never been the victim of one of these crimes; but, I could have been, and I still very well may be. It is scary to think about. What is even more scary to think about is the fact that the person who may commit that type of crime against me may not be punished for it, depending on the way he looks, acts, or who he knows. I marched because I have friends who may no longer have access to affordable healthcare for themselves and their families. I marched because I am a white female in America where my friends of other races and ethnicities still face adversity because of the color of their skin or the country from which their family came. I marched because injustice for a few is injustice for ALL.
But mostly I marched because I want our president to succeed as our leader. I want him to be a leader that listens to ALL of his people, and fulfill his promise to return the power of the United States of America back to the people. I marched because I want to be HEARD. I want my mere existence as a woman to be recognized and valued. I want the president to follow through on his promise to me and all Americans when he said, “To all Americans in every city near and far, small and large…hear these words: you will never be ignored again.” Because I have never felt more ignored and undervalued in my life than I have in the year 2016. I marched because I want the president to help America be “great” by embracing the diversity that so uniquely defines the vibrant fabric of which our country is made. I want him to succeed by recognizing women — ALL WOMEN — as valuable members of society who should not be spoken of as objects that men can handle and use at their disposal. I want him to succeed by promoting love and kindness toward all people regardless of their race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or political party. I marched because I want to see our country continue to progress toward a nation of acceptance and tolerance and respect.
I know there are people who don’t understand why I marched yesterday and there are people who will never even try to understand. I know there are people who might see this shared on Facebook and not even take the time to read it, but will say things to try to hurt me or make me feel ashamed or maybe even call me names. But I can’t do anything about it because of our First Amendment right to the freedom of speech. I can only hope that people will respond and react with respect and the old “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” ideal. I also hope that the women out there who don’t agree with the Women’s March that took place yesterday, will recognize my right to assemble and say what I believe just as I will allow them to do the same. When it comes down to it, I marched because I can and because people have made huge sacrifices in order for that to be possible.
I want to be seen. I want to be heard. I want others to listen. I want to listen to others. I want love to conquer hate. I want to embrace our differences and find some sort of middle ground. I want us to accept that we will all not be pleased by our laws, but we can be civil and reasonable and tolerant in the way we go about trying to get what we want and stand up for what we believe is right.
“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.”