Women’s March on Washington | Image c/o Gloria Steinem
There are moments in life we need to respond immediately and there are moments that are best to let simmer.
The Women’s March on Washington needed to simmer for me.
I needed to know what my own beliefs were before I hopped on to someone else’s. I needed to know the foundation I was standing on, the one that will keep me standing tall when weaker foundations crumble. I needed to reflect on why I’m so angry and where that anger is coming from. I had to dig back in my archives and recall the experiences that have made me feel belittled, confused, and mocked because of someone else’s insecurities they thought was ok to hand off to me. These experiences are on my skin and in my bones and digging them up was a process that called for solitude and personal acceptance.
(Us humans are so very good at avoidance.)
I’m not saying I’m healed or have a grand plan but I’m ready to share how the Women’s March made me feel and the highlights inspiring me to stand up for myself every day:
Senator Kamala Harris at the Women’s March on Washington
“We the people have the power. There is nothing more powerful than a group of determined sisters marching alongside with their partners and their determined sons and brothers and fathers, standing up for what we know is right. And here’s the thing, we know that it is right for this nation to prioritize women’s issues…
‘Kamala, talk to us about women’s issues.’
And I’d say, ‘I’m so glad you want to talk about the economy. I’d say, great, let’s talk about the economy because that’s a woman’s issue. I’d say you want to talk about women’s issues? Let’s talk about national security. You want to talk about women’s issues? Let’s talk about healthcare. Let’s talk about education. Let’s talk about criminal justice reform. Let’s talk about climate change.’
Because we all know the truth. If you’re a woman trying to raise a family, you know that a good paying job is a woman’s issue. If you’re a woman who’s an immigrant who does not want your family torn apart you know immigration reform is a woman’s issue. If you’re a woman working off student loans, you know the crushing burden of student debt is a woman’s issue. If you are a black mother, trying to raise a son, you know black lives is a woman’s issue.
And if you’re a woman period, you know we deserve a country with equal pay and access to healthcare including a safe and legal abortion protected as a fundamental and constitutional right.
So all of this is to say my sisters and brothers that we are tired as women of being relegated to simply being thought of as a particular constituency or demographic…
We are a force that cannot be dismissed or written off onto the sidelines…”
Alicia Keys “Girl on Fire” at the Women’s March on Washington
When Alicia Keys starts with Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise”, you know you’re going to get chills from the power of prose.
“…Thank you for your courage.
Thank you for your womanliness.
Thank you for your strength.
Let us continue to honor all that is beautiful about being feminine.
We are mothers, we are caregivers, we are artists, we are activists, we are entrepreneurs, doctors, leaders of industry and technology. Are potential is unlimited, we rise…
Until everyone respects Mother Energy and everyone with a belly button must agree…
We. Are. Here.”
Of course, it’s not the same as watching the entirety of her piece. See it here.
Warrior Prayer by Lakota Women at Women’s March on Washington
A few women from the Lakota tribe started everyone marching with a Woman’s Warrior Prayer. With the drums and the eagle feather and the voices of a battle cry booming over the speakers as women marched, I had chills from the energy and something rose in me that felt so powerful. I was honored to be able to witness this prayer.
If you watched the Women’s March on Washington or participated in one of the marches around the world that day, you know there are a lot of topics being addressed. I have come to terms I can’t wholesomely support each one because I’m not directly affected or may not feel it as deeply others yet I do wholesomely support everyone’s right to have a voice for the fights and freedoms that feel closest to them.
The fights and freedoms I’m closest to right now are equality in the workplace, bodily integrity, and inclusiveness for all. I understand as a white middle-class woman that it may seem I’m too far away from cultural and diversity issues to understand this fight but I’m here to learn. I’ve acknowledged my bubble and I’m trying to pop it (we all have bubbles to challenge). I hope I’m met with as much peace as I’m trying to exude.
These few and multiple others are a tall order and I’m confident we’ll rise to the occasion to acknowledge there are key human issues imbalanced currently. We’re trying to course correct and we can do it together. I think a good way to support the positive change the Women’s March lit a fire to is taking it in digestible bite sizes. One day at a time. If you want to be a catalyst for change, you must start on a small scale and watch the ripple effect take place.
Be a revolutionary in your circle first and watch that circle expand.
When you’re at a group dinner and a friend makes a statement that feels belittling or oppressive, don’t laugh along with everyone else. Ask them why they feel that way.
When your doctor prescribes pills for something you know is a deeper feminine cycle issue, say no. Go to a different doctor and tell the doctor you walked away from that the solution given wasn’t a solution and you won’t support it.
When you’re uncomfortable in a situation because you recognize you have biases you never realized were biases, face them so you can change them. Don’t hide. Don’t shut down. Don’t say what you feel on Facebook if you can’t say what you feel to the Face right next to you. To the Face sitting across the table from you. To the Face in the mirror.
I can’t say I’ve signed up for a group or a protest or been a voice like so many women I know and admire who courageously have been but I am doing my part in my own way.
In digestible bite sizes I can handle.
And you know what, I’ve got to get a little tough love with women specifically. I’ve had many experiences where I don’t feel a woman has treated me the way she’s looking to be treated. In my personal experience there are some women saying they support me as a woman in business or as a friend but they’re the same person cutting me down as soon as I start to have success with my goals or want to celebrate an accomplishment.
We need to stop doing this to each other, myself included.
If we are to stand rooted together there needs to be less shallowness among us (seriously, you’re pissed she has the same purse as you?). There needs to be less gossip behind the scenes when it appears support is being shown to another woman in her venture. What’s that saying about a wolf wearing sheep’s skin?
If you’re a woman supporting women in any way, you need to be more thoughtful in your relationships with women. Start on a small scale and watch the ripple effect take place.
One-on-one relationships have been my main focus lately because they’re intimate, real, and the small daily actions that make up your whole life. If you’re interested in joining me on the journey of personal awareness and community consciousness, please do. Let’s meet each other where we’re at.
Let’s do this together. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.