Monthly Archives: February 2017

Silent Marchers: April

Silent Marchers is a series of stories from real women (and men) who wanted to march in the Women’s March on Washington and various sister marches across the nation, but could not be there for a variety of reasons. These are their stories of why they weren’t there, why they wish they could have been, and why they support this cause and all that it stands for. Their hope is that you might find yourself in one of their stories, and know you’re not alone. Together, we will resist.

***

My name is April.

Yep. That’s my real name. No alias for this one. It’s all me.

I didn’t march in the Women’s March, mainly due to finances. Also, no one I knew that I’m close to was going, so there was no way to split the expenses. I really wanted to be there though.

So.  Since I didn’t get to physically be there, I want to talk about the event and its aftermath by telling my story here.

aprilThere has been so much backlash about the Women’s March since January 21.  I do agree that the majority of women in the US have got it easy compared to those in other countries. That being said, however, that doesn’t mean we don’t still have women here who are discriminated against in various ways.

That also doesn’t mean that we should stop fighting for equality.

Me personally? I’ll just name a few ways I’ve experienced sexism:

While house hunting with my then fiancé, we went to so many places (all headed up by men), where not one of them shook my hand or even addressed me until they realized that the loan would be in my name. Most of the men never even directed their sales pitch or questions toward me at all. You know who we ended up buying our home from? A wonderful woman who shook my hand and my fiancé’s. A woman who looked me in the eye and addressed us both. A woman who treated me with the same regard and respect as she did my fiancé.

I’ve worked a few jobs where I did the same work as a man, but was paid less.

I’ve been verbally assaulted by men while waiting tables in various jobs.

I’ve been considered inferior due to my sex in various ways.

These are just of few of the reasons that I support the Women’s March and all women period; regardless of how they feel about it all. I support it because I’m proud of what my female ancestors accomplished in the past and I want to make them proud by continuing to fight for equality.

Maybe I hold men to a higher standard because I have a great dad, wonderful husband, and awesome guy friends who have always treated me as an equal. Or maybe I’m just lucky, unlike so many women who are surrounded by misogynistic, closed-minded assholes. Either way, equality for women is something that I am passionate about and that is why I support the Women’s March fully and completely.

My name is April. And this was my Not-so-Silent Marchers story.

***

“I’m willing to be seen.
I’m willing to speak up.
I’m willing to keep going.
I’m willing to listen to what others have to say.
I’m willing to go to bed each night at peace with myself.
I’m willing to be my biggest bestest most powerful self.”
―Emma Watson

 

 

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Silent Marchers: Emily

Silent Marchers is a series of stories from real women (and men) who wanted to march in the Women’s March on Washington and various sister marches across the nation, but could not be there for a variety of reasons. These are their stories of why they weren’t there, why they wish they could have been, and why they support this cause and all that it stands for. Their hope is that you might find yourself in one of their stories, and know you’re not alone. Together, we will resist.

***

My name is “Emily.” But not really.

I did not march in the Women’s March. But I wanted to.

I have a special needs child whom, among other things, is autistic. My husband had to work that day and I had no one to watch my son. I would have loved to take him with me but due to his needs it wasn’t feasible. He does not do well around large crowds and I also have to limit his exposure to others during flu season due to a compromised immune system.

momboyTo me the March signifies unity, action, awareness and solidarity in not just one cause but many. At some point in our lives we are either going to be the victim of discrimination or know someone who is. Either because of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, financial standing or any other perceived slight.

In this day in time it is unnecessary and archaic.

To claim this March wasn’t for you is naïve. At its very heart, it’s for everyone. No one wants their child to grow up to be in an abusive relationship. No one wants to be told they can’t freely practice the religion of their choice. No one wants to feel of less value because they are not on the same socioeconomic rung of the ladder. No one wants to be told what they can and can not do with their body. We don’t have to personally believe in decisions others make but it’s not our place to tell them they are wrong. Guns kill more innocent lives than abortions do, yet people will fight to the death to keep them and allow anyone to have them.

We need to focus on quality of life.

I see no one running to adopt children in the foster care system, or helping the little babies born with congenital defects which will leave them with unforeseen health problems. However we can scream to cut the funding and Medicaid/insurance which will provide care that’s so desperately needed. Then there are those who falsely claim that they don’t want tax dollars funding abortions. It would serve people well to research laws before spewing nonsense. Taxpayer dollars have not and will not pay for abortions except in the case of rape, incest and health of mother or child. The Hyde Amendment. Most have never heard of it and don’t care to.

So yes, the March means so many things to so many people and, directly or indirectly, affects us all.

To me, it’s hope and love and empathy and equality and giving a voice to those who are unable to speak up.

I grew up in a home that was very chauvinistic. My mom was never allowed to get her drivers license. My dad was an alcoholic. My mom was the only one who worked a full time steady job with dad taking her and picking her up everyday. My dad worked odd jobs here and there. I was the oldest. I had one younger brother. From early on, I learned that my brother’s interests and activities took priority. Everything revolved around him. My mom and I was left to do all the home stuff – cook, clean, not question.

I always knew there was more somehow. A world that was different.

I wanted to be a lawyer but was told I couldn’t do that because it was a job for men. But I knew I could.

As I got older, I started to rebel. I didn’t want dad or any other male telling me what I could or could not do. I was tired of being forced to go to church by my grandfather. I was tired of being told I couldn’t cut my hair. I was tired of being told I couldn’t do things because I was a girl. That created more problems and I was beaten into submission both literally and figuratively.

I became pregnant at the age of 19.

The father ran and I was left to take care of a baby born with special needs alone. I swore off men. I worked at low paying jobs to get by because I was a single mom with only a high school education. I tried to attend community college but it never failed – my son would have a medical crisis and would be in the hospital for several weeks at a time.

The next relationship I was in was when I was 23. It became like the movie Groundhog Day. I became pregnant and he left (after trying unsuccessfully to persuade me to have an abortion). The rest is rinse and repeat.

I resigned myself to being a single mom forever and destined to work in menial jobs.

Then I met my current husband

We married when I was 30. Thankfully he is a man of great integrity, love and compassion. He helped me find my voice again. The fire that had always been smoldering was allowed to burn. That meant that being a woman, even one who had been beat down, could still make a difference. While I never achieved my dream of being a lawyer or any other cookie cutter profession I have become an advocate. An advocate for the disabled, for women, for those less fortunate. That’s just as much, if not more, rewarding than anything I could have ever dreamed of.

If as a woman you did not March out of fear, I’m telling this story for you. Whatever reason was holding you back, we will fight to remove those barriers. You are strong, you are worthy, you are loved, you are valued. Please know that. If you didn’t March because of other reasons – distance, financial, whatever – I beg of you to still use your voice. To help others understand that intolerance, discrimination, bigotry, racism has no place in lives and society.

Movements work.

All you have to do is look at history to see how far we have come. We must not go back to such dark times. Please don’t stand silently.

Be loud, proud and full of dignity.

And another little side note to my story?

My brother has grown into a staunch Trump-supporting all-right fanatic. He pounds his chest all day long about gun rights, building the wall, hating the “lazy liberals” who do nothing but mooch off the system. He preaches it loud and proud to anyone who will listen. Yet through it all he, can’t hold down a job.  His whole family, with numerous kids, have Medicaid and receive food stamps. I’m sitting here thinking, “so when your demigod takes away Medicaid and cuts welfare you do know that means you’re going to lose yours too, right?”

But then I’m just a whiney snowflake who needs to get over it.

He needs to learn not to bite the hand that feeds him.

My name is “Emily.” But not really. And this was my Silent Marchers story.

***

“If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.”
– Margaret Thatcher

Silent Marchers: “Dave”

Silent Marchers is a series of stories from real women (and men) who wanted to march in the Women’s March on Washington and various sister marches across the nation, but could not be there for a variety of reasons. These are their stories of why they weren’t there, why they wish they could have been, and why they support this cause and all that it stands for. Their hope is that you might find yourself in one of their stories, and know you’re not alone. Together, we will resist.

***

My  name is “Dave.” (But not really.)

I did not march. My reason is fairly simple.

I was afraid.

I was afraid of the sheer size of the crowd. (I do love visiting NYC, but even those crowds can start to get to me quickly.) But even more than the fear of the crowd? I was afraid of some major act of violence being perpetrated by those who disagreed with the march. I couldn’t help but picture some crazed gunman or a bomber…I suppose in retrospect that sounds lame. But at the time, it was a very vivid, very real concern.

daveI feel as though I let people down. Many of my close friends went to the march. I don’t really know if they were concerned about violence, but even if they were, they went. One of my dearest friends has major anxiety and an auto-immune disease, but she went. I just kept my original plan to go and visit family for the weekend, but kept track through Facebook. I was blown away by the sheer volume of people in attendance, and incredibly thankful that there was no violence.

To me, the march was about exercising the right to peaceful protest against the changes forthcoming in the new administration. Healthcare is being taken away from people who need it. Soon to follow will probably be other programs that assist the less fortunate. I’m not proud of it, but if it weren’t for some of those programs, I would not be here today. I spent the years of 18 to 24 without health insurance because I did not have access to it. I am well-accustomed to “the look” that you get when you push your cart up to the checkout and have to tell the cashier you’re paying with food stamps. (Most of the time, the look is from the person behind you, sizing up the items you lay on the conveyor belt, as if to say how DARE you buy name brand anything, let alone any sort of treat or snack. But every once in a great while, the look comes from the cashier, which somehow is worse.)

Protections in place that ban my employer from firing me simply because I’m gay are also at stake. Never mind the fact that I am damn good at my job, and being gay has no impact on my ability to do my job, there is now a distinct possibility that I, and many of my non-heterosexual friends, could be unemployed simply for existing.

For existing.

I just find myself stunned that people were more offended by Ashley Judd using profanity and talking about menstruation than they were by the fact that our president said it was okay to grab women by their most private parts, and never owned up to it or apologized for it.

I’m sorry…I’ve turned this into something about me, and it’s not about me. Many of the people in my life, to whom I look up and admire, and love with all my heart, are women. And women deserve to be respected and protected, and not seen as property or “less than.”

Here’s the thing: people are going to judge you for not marching, at least until they hear your reasons (and in some cases, they might judge you regardless.) There is nothing you can do about that. But know that the march is only the first step. There are plenty of ways we can still make a difference and make our voices heard. There are Facebook groups that promote local events – from peaceful protests on the smaller scale, to postcard-writing parties, to how to contact your representatives.

Don’t feel bad for not marching.

Just find out what things you CAN do, and do them.

My name is “Dave.” (But not really.)  And this was my Silent Marchers story.

***

“Most activism is brought about by us ordinary people.”
– Patricia Hill Collins