On the Women’s March and Women Like Me

sortofmymarch

What about me?

I’ve found myself asking that question again and again this last week as I’ve watched my friends pop up in photos on Facebook wearing pink hats and holding signs.  As I’ve sorted through hashtags.  #womensmarch and #notmymarch and #notmypresident and #alternativefacts.  As I’ve read news articles about why the march isn’t for every woman, how it’s only for those who politically agree, about how Christian women shouldn’t go near a march and how ALL women have to march.  I’ve hemmed and hawed, read and re-read.  And still I’m asking:

What about me?

What about women like me whose politics and ethics and beliefs leave them caught somewhere in the middle of marching and not marching?

I have to say that in many ways, I relate to my friends out there holding picket signs, adorned with pink knitted hats, protesting policies and ideas that in some ways make me very fearful.  I’m proud of these women for taking a stand, for peacefully standing up for what matters to them, for standing strong and together and united.

Like them, I didn’t vote for Trump.  I heard the comments he made about women and minorities.  I read campaign promises that seemed sure to bring destruction.  I watched with fear as he won state after state in the primaries and watched with a nauseous stomach as electoral college votes began to turn into his favor.  I do not think Trump is the right president for our country, I think his policies hurt women, hurt minorities, hurt men, hurt my children, hurt us all.

Like them, I want a different world for my daughter.  I want her to to be safe, secure, happy, able to pursue her dreams.  I don’t want her to ever hear words like the ones our president spoke to so many women.  I don’t want her to be confined under a glass ceiling, to be taught that she is less than because she is a woman.  I want her to know that she has a voice and that her voice matters.  I want her to know that she doesn’t have to tolerate misogynistic comments.  From anyone.

Like them, I am appalled by some of the candidates for the cabinet that Trump has selected. I am appalled by the quid pro quo, by unqualified choices, by people who I don’t believe will advocate for the children and people who need it most.

Like them, I watch the contrast between how our outgoing president treats his wife– with respect and honor– and how our incoming president treats his wife and I feel sad.  Shocked, even.

And like them, I am scared that our new president and congress will enact laws that will set our country back.  I fear walls across our borders. I’m worried about our healthcare system– which right now seems irreparably broken.  I see rising insurance costs for the middle class, and see babes unable to afford necessary care, parents who can’t afford essential therapy, and doctors who are crippled by laws and costs and bureaucracy.

I, too, am scared.

Yes, in many ways, I can relate to the millions who took a stand this weekend.

But I also relate to my friends who stayed home on Saturday, to the ones posting #notmymarch on their Facebook walls, to the ones who felt excluded and angry and condemned.  Like them, I made the choice to spend my Saturday at my daughter’s volleyball game, at my son’s soccer game, watching Hidden Figures with my daughter and my niece.  Because like them, I wasn’t able to get fully behind the march.

Like them, I saw that the second tenet of belief on the women’s march website is that they are pro-choice.  As a woman who is pro-life, I had a hard time even considering putting on a pink hat and marching with so many of my friends because this stands in stark contrast to what I believe.

Like them, I wondered what if.  What if all American women– pro-choice women and pro-life women– were to stand hand-in-hand to advocate for the poor, the oppressed, to those battling against slavery and poverty and mysogyny.  That we made sure these women had access to education, to healthcare, to financial support, to the caring, loving, listening, advocating mentorship they need to overcome. Being pro-choice does not a feminist make.  Being pro-women does.

Like them, I’ve read again and again that conservatives, that Republicans, that Christians don’t care about women and minorities.  And perhaps some don’t.  But I will stand up and say that a few vocal examples in Washington are not us.  They do not represent who I am as a woman, mother, sister or daughter.  In my church, in my family, in my neighborhood, we fight for the oppressed, for the lonely, for those who desperately need help.  We have worked as bridge-builders between the races, having tough conversations, standing up for men and women of all races.  We have gathered together as a community to support pregnant, single mothers– not just with a one-off gift of diapers, but with financial support, job support, parenting support.  We welcome immigrants into our fold.  We do NOT want to build a wall. Here, in my community, the patriarchy is fought against by men who are willing to take a stand for their wives and daughters.  The church I know digs in and volunteers, gives time and resources, grills hamburgers at shelters, supports foster children and their families, provides education to single mothers, welcomes the LBGTQ community into its doors and collects thousands of pairs of boots to give to homeless men and women.  The church I know is not anti-women or anti-diversity. The church I know believes in grace and truth and love. Yes, there are some people Washington who don’t care about the rights of women and minorities, but that is not an entire political party and it is certainly not the church as a whole.

But like the many women who stayed home on Saturday, I feel misunderstood, mislabeled, attacked even.

And so I ask, what about me?

I have friends– so many dear, precious, smart friends– on both sides of the fence.  Some of my best friends wore pink hats and flew to Washington this weekend.  Some of my best friends stayed home and watched the news and wondered if anyone was marching for them.  I have seen the comments on Facebook.  I have heard their voices– desperate, angry, fearful, defiant, resolute, hopeful, and strong.

And so, today, I’m just putting it out there:  There are some American women– many of us, I think– who stand somewhere in the middle.  Who love our country, who love women and diversity, who want America to truly be great, but who also feel a little bit like this march is not our march.

And that’s okay.  That’s what makes America what it is.  Diversity of thought.  Careful contemplation.  The ability to advocate for what we believe.  The right to take a stand.

But I’ll also say this:  To those who marched and to those who didn’t:  We are stronger together.

United yet different.

Beautiful, diverse, hopeful.

So let’s not let ourselves get caught up in the who-said-what and who-did-what and I-can’t-be-friends-with-so-and-so-because-she-did that.

Because diversity is what helps us thrive.

And being willing to stand up is what makes us all strong.

#SortofMyMarch

<<Edit:  I edited this post based on one of my reader’s comments that there is a difference between “pro-abortion” and “pro-choice”– she is right, there is a difference and the Women’s March website is markedly pro-choice but not pro-abortion.  I have also seen many comments that many marchers were, in fact, pro-abortion, which I agree with, but that does not necessarily reflect the organizer’s viewpoints.  I consider myself pro-life, not pro-choice OR pro-abortion, but I wanted to use the correct words from the Women’s March website.>>

5 Comments

  1. Thank you for your thoughts. I think your commentary is valid. And, marching and protesting is not for everyone. Some people would rather focus their political activity on a specific subject. Some would rather write letters and call. I personally think it is wrong to not become involved on some level if you recognize the need. But, not everyone has to march. You aren’t a failure to your gender for not marching. Regarding the pro-life angle, I don’t know that there is a way to march in this particular protest and also recommend defunding planned parenthood or directly contradict the pro-choice side. I think perhaps you could be part of the march for other reasons and leave your pro-life agenda for another day. Its difficult. No one is truly pro-abortion (that I personally know of). But, the theme of the day was protecting women’s choices and part of that is protecting safe and fair access to women’s health. It is difficult to include anti-abortion rhetoric in there especially when most practical people understand that abortion (while legal or not) will never go away. I wish there could be more open discourse about how to accept that abortion, especially early term abortions, will always be around. It is illegal in many countries and abortion rates remain high in those countries because they often do not have good access to birth control and education or the power in their own households to make decisions about family planning. Our abortion rate in the U.S has been falling. Let us consider ways to help continue that trend. I wish that we could join hands and agree in this direction- to move policy to make most abortions unnecessary. I think that bridge would unite many of us.

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  2. Thank you, Erin, for stating this so well. I agree with you completely, and I hope you won’t mind if I quote you.

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  3. Beautifully written- heartfelt, sincere, and encouraging.

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  4. I debated go8ng. It was totally a decision. we made 45 minutes before leaving, coordinating with my husband, organizing 3 kids, figuring out logistics and dropoff, weighing my concerns over exposing my daughter to the crude language in signs I did NOT agree with. I kept feeling this unrest – this feeling that this was a huge deal, and I wanted to be there. I NEEDED to be there, even if I didn’t agree with all of it. I didn’t have plans to cancel, my schedule was open. And so my husband dropped me off with my 7 y/o and 7 month old daughters. And we marched with people of all colors, all genders. We marched with women who marched in the civil rights movement. We felt the positivity that is unique to unity, and we felt an outpouring of love as peoe helped me with my brood. We had signs that said “end racism now” and chanted “hear my voice” and “USA” – the latter of which was led by a 9 year old girl. And I answered questions about hate signs, and confusing language, but those were few. My daughter experienced a movement of people passionate about a cause, politely petitioning government. I experienced something precious and golden. I would do it again, even though I, too, stand somewhere in the middle. I learned that the middle where I am is full of lots of love.

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  5. Nicely written, but they were not pink hats…they were pusey hats.

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