On Saturday, my family participated in the largest protest in United States history. Joining with over half a million people, (some estimates put us at a million) we flooded the metro system of Washington DC and the world, with at least three million, possibly five million people protesting globally to protect the rights and concerns of women and all who are vulnerable under our current administration.
I took my daughter, who at a year and a half has participated in five different protests, because it is her future that we are creating right now. We streamed into the metro system, and were on the train so long that I needed to feed my daughter. At one moment I had her bottom balanced on the grip of the stroller, as the train stopped and started, while she was latched onto my breast and her legs were looped over my arm as I held onto the handle bar for stability. Generously, one of the women who was sitting close to me offered us her seat so that I didn’t have to balance while breastfeeding.
After spending four hours in the metro system we finally made it onto the street and by chance ran into the friends we had hoped to meet up with. A mom had made us all pussyhats, even one for our daughter, and we wore them proudly. We tried to hear the speakers, but the crush of people was too dense, so the people around us chanted on our own, crying out: “This is what Democracy looks like!” My favorite exchange was all the women shouting “My body, my choice!” followed with the men shouting “Her body, her choice!”
Word eventually got to our part of the crowd that the march could not move because the march route was full of people. We spontaneously filled up the National Mall and marched in front of the White House in an effort to call attention to the fact that women’s rights are human rights.
Gathering together across all seven continents, in over six hundred cities around the world including Iraq, Qatar, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia, we joined together to call for Health, Economic Security, Representation, and Safety (HERS).
It was not perfect. There were many more white women who presented in gender conforming ways than anyone else that I saw, though I do admit that I was pushing year and a half year old in a stroller through at least half a million people. I did see at least four generations. I saw black and white and hispanic standing together. I saw women wearing the hijab. I saw many signs saying “The Future is Female.”
I didn’t hear any of the speakers, but I did see a young person holding a sign that they had made, “be nice” and “be respectful.”
I marched for my daughter who will be learning right and wrong in a world where
lies are called “alternative facts.”
I marched for Raquel who was my roommate in college after her first roommate called her “the girl with the green card.”
I marched for my friends Kate and Kathryn that their marriage may still be legal.
I marched for Maureen who I befriended while I was serving as a volunteer through the United States Peace Corps in Kenya, who is a nurse now raising her daughter alone.
I marched for Maureen’s daughter, that she will not be a victim of Female Genital Mutilation, because even though the Masaai women started “only drawing blood, not cutting entirely” the practice is still horrendous.
I marched for Amanda, who has been working at Wal-Mart for fifteen years and still makes less than fifteen dollars an hour.
I marched for the men who are told that they cannot show emotion or will be called less than whole.
I marched for women who only make seventy percent of what men make.
I marched for black bodies who are killed and feared for existing.
I marched for Syrian refugees who have no home to return to.
I marched for people who will die because they will lose health insurance.
I marched because bridges are better than walls.
I marched for you, even if you don’t think you need it.
I marched because my privilege allowed me to do so, and I want to bend the world towards justice, one step at a time.
Photo Credit: Chuck Geary