On January 21st, women – alongside men and children – marched in various cities, states, and countries around the world to make their voices heard. The women’s march had an incredible turnout and if you look at photos and stories about it, you’ll see so many people coming together to make their voices heard. You’ll see men, women, children, people of different ethnicities, people of different circumstance, people of different backgrounds, people of different social class, and people of different heart and spirit come together because they see – even if it doesn’t affect them personally – that there is a dire need for change.
There was a post on social media in regards to the women’s march by someone who felt like they didn’t need the spectacle of a march. They felt that they didn’t need to be made equal because they could do it themselves. This post was then shared by women who agreed with the sentiment. In acknowledging this, I acknowledge that these posts were made on their own personal pages and I could have scrolled past them, but the statement affected me, as a woman. It also affected me as a mother, a sister, and a friend.
It affected me, as a woman, because in an attempt to be ‘a strong woman’ the original poster made women who have suffered feel like their suffering didn’t matter because ‘it wasn’t bad enough’. It affected me as a woman because I’ve been silenced before by harsh words, and this woman who claimed to stand up for women who felt the same way but were afraid to say it used her ‘pride’ to silence me (and a number of other women) again.
“I am not a “disgrace to women” because I don’t support the women’s march. I do not feel I am a second-classs citizen” because I am a woman. I do not feel my voice is “not heard” because I am a woman. I do not feel I am not provided opportunities in this life or in America because I am a woman. I do not feel that I “don’t have control of my body or choices” because I am a woman. I do not feel like I am ” not respected or undermined” because I am a woman.
I AM a woman.
I can make my own choices.
I can speak and be heard.
I can VOTE.
I can work if I want.
I control my body.
I can defend myself.
I can defend my family.
There is nothing stopping me to do anything in this world but MYSELF.
I do not blame my circumstances or problems on anything other than my own choices or even that sometimes in life, we don’t always get what we want. I take responsibility for myself.
I am a daughter, a sister, a friend. I am not held back in life but only by the walls I choose to not go over which is a personal choice.
If you want to speak, do so. But do not expect for me, a woman, to take you seriously wearing a pink va-jay-jay hat on your head and screaming profanities and bashing men.
If you have beliefs, and speak to me in a kind matter, I will listen. But do not expect for me to change my beliefs to suit yours. Respect goes both ways.
If you want to impress me, especially in regards to women, then speak on the real injustices and tragedies that affect women in foreign countries that do not that the opportunity or means to have their voices heard.
Saudi Arabia, women can’t drive, no rights and must always be covered.
China and India, infantcide of baby girls.
Afghanistan, unequal education rights.
Democratic Republic of Congo, where rapes are brutal and women are left to die, or HIV infected and left to care for children alone.
Mali, where women can not escape the torture of genital mutilation.
Pakistan, in tribal areas where women are gang raped to pay for men’s crime.
Guatemala, the impoverished female underclass of Guatemala faces domestic violence, rape and the second-highest rate of HIV/AIDS after sub-Saharan Africa. An epidemic of gruesome unsolved murders has left hundreds of women dead, some of their bodies left with hate messages.
And that’s just a few examples.
So when women get together in AMERICA and whine they don’t have equal rights and march in their clean clothes, after eating a hearty breakfast, and it’s like a vacation away that they have paid for to get there…
This WOMAN does not support it.”
While every person deserves the right to stand by their own opinion, the big flaw in this is that the original poster asks for kindness and says respect goes both ways but then calls the people participating in the women’s march whiners. There’s nothing respectful about that. If respect truly goes both ways we must open our eyes to those around us, we must understand that just because we have houses on the same street, doesn’t mean the view from our windows is the same.
So for this woman who felt ‘second rate’ for roughly the span of a day, a women’s march was too much. For this woman who was offended because she felt like ‘less of a woman’ when other women were marching for their inequality, and the inequality of women everywhere, a women’s march was too much. One day… one march…was too much.
As she posted on her social media, making women feel smaller because she felt small, she added to the pain that women already feel when they’re honest about what ails them. As she prided herself on her ability to control her own body and make her own decisions and – without putting into lamest terms – made other women feel as if they should just be able to ‘take control’ of their own, she did to other women what she was so upset about having done to her.
Just because someone went to a march after having a warm breakfast in clean clothes doesn’t mean they haven’t been a victim. It doesn’t mean they’ve never known injustice. It doesn’t mean that they can’t empathize with those who have. Just because women who march go home to a nice house in a nice neighborhood doesn’t mean they aren’t afraid, it doesn’t mean they’ve never had anything taken away from them.
I am genuinely happy for the women in my life who have never felt injustice. I’m glad for the women who have never been touched by rough hands or had their ‘no’ disregarded. I’m happy for women who sit in their nice middle-class homes with their money and their educations who think life is fair for all women who live the same way, just because it feels fair to them. There’s nothing wrong with thinking life is good as a woman.
There is also no shame in thinking that women are still in need of equality, there’s nothing wrong with marching, protesting, or in making your voice heard. There is nothing wrong in using your circumstance to want better for women in our country, across the world.
There is no shame in being a strong woman, but there is shame in disregarding other women because their view is different than yours. There is something wrong with looking at your neighbor with green grass and nice shutters and thinking they’re wrong for going to march – for themselves and for others. There is something wrong in thinking that just because women come from a certain place, look a certain way, or have a certain amount of something (whatever it may be for you) that they don’t deserve to want more, to want better, to know that it’s not just a desire but a basic human right.
I, as a woman who has been afraid, know that there are people in this world who have it much worse than I do. I, as a woman who has had my ‘no’ rejected, know that there are women who are used in ways I’ve never been used. I, as a woman who looks down when approaching a group of men, know there are countries where I wouldn’t be allowed to leave the house without a man at all.
I know there are women who have known and know now, pain that I will never feel – and for them, I support the women’s march. For them, I hope that every woman who marched made enough of a difference that someone decides to listen. For those who can’t speak, who have had their voices, minds, and bodies taken from them in every sense of the word, and for women who have never known freedom – I am glad that women marched, I am glad that they tried to make a difference.
I, as a woman who wants change, know that those who marched on January 21st marched for themselves, for the women in their life, and for those that the original poster of that social media story mentioned in different countries. They marched for the women who can’t march. I, as a woman who needs things to change before I feel safe, can acknowledge that many people had to fight for MY rights; there were people who had to be strong so that I can be strong now. Justice doesn’t happen over night and it doesn’t happen if no one is fighting for you. How can you say people shouldn’t march because elsewhere, it is worse, and then know that those people who have it worse can’t march at all?
My president said ‘grab em by the pussy’.
My president insinuated that women are objects.
My president has inspired a generation of young privileged men to feel even more privileged.
My president has made my life more scary.
My president is taking away things that make life easier for women.
I am allowed to feel scared, threatened, and to want change.
I look down when I walk, I don’t take my eyes off of my phone when I’m uncomfortable. I’ve learned what situations to avoid and what places to stay away from after dark. I’ve found out how to ‘get through’ situations that scare me even though they shouldn’t. As women, we all have, and it’s not fair.
I love and respect so many women in my life, so many men in my life, so many people in my life; but if you felt – for one second – like that march OFFENDED you, or that you were ‘second-rate’ because you couldn’t relate to the issues; PLEASE check your privilege. Just because you don’t fear or hurt doesn’t mean your neighbor doesn’t, it doesn’t mean your sister doesn’t, it doesn’t mean your best friend doesn’t. Some women carry pain and worry and fear and never let on.
I live in a nice home, I drive a car that gets me from point a to point b. I have a family that supports me when I need help. I could have a warm breakfast every day if I wanted to, I have the luxury to curl up in warmth at night.
I also live in fear that a man will once again touch me after I’ve said no. I have a feeling under my skin every time a man looks at me with a privileged hunger in his eyes. I live knowing that the man who raped me still has friends and family that live close to me; I live knowing how easy it would be for our paths to cross again. I know that I have said yes when I wanted to say no because I didn’t want to be hurt again, to be held down again, to be forced again.
And that’s not even the half of it.
So thank you, to the strong women who marched for me, and women like me, and those better off than me, and those worse off than me.
You never know who needs to feel safe, to feel equal, to feel like they matter but won’t or can’t say it. You never know.