Today I realized that some people view the people who joined the Women’s March as whiners and misandrists. They think we are sore losers, or people who didn’t vote and now regret it. They think we hate men. They don’t understand what has got us all so upset. This may be an answer for them.
When I went to join the rally, I was expecting to see a few hundred people. As I got on the bus to the staging area, the first people I saw were six women wearing pink pussy hats and I thought, “Oh good! I will have company.” By the time we got off the bus, though, I saw that the streets were full of women walking towards city hall. I joined one of the pedestrian streams to the assembly place where we struggled to find room to stand among many thousands of people. The plaza in front of city hall is about the size of a city block and I had to walk in the road in order to get back far enough to find space on the pavement.
We had an hour to wait until the march was to begin, and to pass the time we chatted with one another, and some people would occasionally start a chant or try to get a crowd wave going. It was a happy crowd on a cold drizzly day. Lots of people were wearing pink hats, some were carrying decorated umbrellas, and I saw lots of home-made signs expressing outrage in various forms. Some were funny, some were clever, and a few were deliberately controversial.
We were comprised of women and girls of all ages from infants to pensioners. We represented a huge number of causes and concerns, and a similarly large range of races and religions. The group also included supportive men who were proud to join the protest and to recognize the rights of their loved ones.
That was what it was about. Human rights. Rights for women, the disabled, the elderly, the sick, LGBTQ people, educators, the disenfranchised, the undocumented, preservers of the planet, and so on. Many, many different people who all had become afraid that the rights they and others had fought for over many years are now threatened. All that work, the meetings, the research, the public speaking, the door-to-door canvassing, the waiting and hoping, the repeated proposals, the hard-fought battles, all now at risk of being wiped away.
I lost count of the number of women who were about my age saying, “I thought we had already won this fight,” or “I can’t believe I’m protesting women’s rights again,” or “Didn’t we have this worked out in the sixties?” And, I think I know what was the catalyst that brought us all together.
We had been watching or reading the news over the last year or so and hearing Trump and his team threatening to take us all back to the 1950’s in various ways, so there was a gradual creeping unease and awareness of the looming threat to our freedoms and rights. But, the trigger to our action was hearing the then-president-elect saying, “I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. . . Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”
That was it. That was the moment we all realized he had no respect for women—for half the human race. We were objects not people, and because of that he would not hesitate to take away our rights to control our own bodies.
Realizing that, many other groups with social and political concerns also realized how vulnerable they were. Instinctively, we all came together to show solidarity. One of the speakers at our rally said “There is no hierarchy of causes. We are all important and we can all support one another.” I don’t know who she was, but she was right. People who were unlikely to meet each other socially came together on Saturday 21st January to make a political statement as one.
The protesters that day were not men-haters, and we were not whining. We were angry, and frustrated, and scared, and chanting, and marching, but there was not a single whine to be heard. And, the men who joined us received only our respect. We love being women who love others, both men and women.
What we all hate is a pussy grabber. We hate arrogant uncaring patronizing abuse. That behaviour is so repulsive that it shook us into action, and the action brought us together with a lot of other angry and fearful people who know that their rights are now threatened, too.
Like so many of those who participated in the Women’s March on Saturday, I walked home exhilarated. I was tired and desperate to sit and relax, but also encouraged and excited. I realized that I am not alone in my concerns. Quite the contrary. I am joined by thousands of groups of people and individuals with different priorities but the same fundamental desires. We all believe in defending human rights, for all people, everywhere.