I went to Washington to march on Saturday.
I drove in a packed car for 7 hours, hip to hip with other marchers. We were two 60 year old grandmothers, a 20 something man and woman, and a transgender teen.
We met up with others in Maryland; two more 60 year olds, our old friend and her husband, their two 30-ish daughters, and a few more people.
I was lucky enough to be with friends and with my two strong adult sons. I love and trust everyone who walked with me that day. We went into the Capitol city to express ourselves and to be heard. We listened, we cheered. Some of us wore pink pussycat hats. In the end we shuffled more than marched because of the density of the crowd.
At last we got back to the home of our hosts, and it was then that we discovered we’d had different reactions and different thoughts about what we had just experienced. The day left some of us uplifted, but it left others feeling hopeless.
And that was what made me stop and try to focus my thoughts.
Why did I go to such trouble? Why did I push my tired and already achy body to such lengths? Why did I put myself in the middle of a crowd of hundreds of thousands, knowing that it would (and did) scare the absolute hell out of me?
Today I finally figure out why I did it. Why I went down there.
I was scanning the headlines and I saw that the new President just signed an order that is pretty routine every time we have a Republican President. That order says that no agencies overseas will get any money from us if they either provide or counsel women about abortions.
I stopped and re-read it. What the absolute hell.
So if a clinic in central Africa wants to keep women and children healthy and safe, they will not get any help from the richest country on earth if they even talk about safe abortion?
Suddenly I was absolutely enraged. I mean, hair on my arms standing up straight, heart pounding, ready to punch my veiny old fist through a wall enraged.
Because here we go. Again. The lives of women and children are completely meaningless in the eyes of these rich, privileged white men.
You already have 11 kids and no way to feed them? Tough shit, ladies. We won’t even talk to you about a safe way out for you, or for your living, breathing kids.
Now I know why I marched.
I marched even though I was afraid because I grew up believing that it was OK for men to say sexual things to me just because I was young and female. I hated, but didn’t complain about, cat calls, whistles, suggestions that strangers do things to me that I didn’t even understand.
I’ve been grabbed when I didn’t want to be. I’ve been kissed when I tried to wriggle away without “insulting” him. I’ve been the punch line of sexual jokes.
I marched because my daughter has been in a verbally abusive relationship. I marched because she was once slipped a date rape drug in a bar. Luckily, she was with protective and loving friends who saw her through it and she wasn’t hurt. But I marched because some men think its OK to do that to a woman.
I marched because I have a beautiful, smart, funny, loving granddaughter.
I marched because my daughter and I (and soon our little Ellie) understand that even in 2017 we shouldn’t walk on American streets alone after dark. Men can go wherever they want to go; we can’t.
We are women. Hear us roar.
We have just elected a man who brags about grabbing women by the pussy. He has had three wives, each one young and sexy. He’s made fun of women’s faces, of our bodies. He thinks he has the right to comment on our sexual attractiveness and to judge us by that one measure.
I marched because there’s an entire administration behind this guy. They accept him, his views, and his disgusting behaviors. They support him. They want to work for him.
I marched because damn it to hell and back again: OUR BODIES ARE NOT YOUR TOYS.
I refuse, refuse, refuse to go back in time to a place where Ellie might have to deal with a bunch of men telling her that they can grab her, force her to have sex, but deny her birth control or abortion.
THAT was the reality that I grew up with. That was my youth.
And I am NOT going to sit back and take a return to those days.
I didn’t march to change the world. I didn’t march, this time, to end the oligarchy or to upset capitalism, although I’ve marched for those reasons in the past.
No. This time it was personal for me and for millions of other women. We will not accept or respect or obey or honor a President who thinks he can put his slimy hands on any female body, just because he wants to.
Image by Karen Shiebler