Tag Archives: equality

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

 

 

Silent Marchers: “Amy”

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.

***

Hello.

My name is “Amy.” But not really.

I wanted to march in the Women’s March. I was all set to travel to Washington D.C. to march with like-minded men and women for a cause I believed in.

But I didn’t quite make it.

Here’s why.

I suffer from anxiety/panic attacks. As much as I wanted to be there, the thoughts of being in the massive crowd with no escape was petrifying. I knew there would be no easy way to find friends there due to the crowds, friends who would make me feel safe, so my anxiety won.

1732007173256It keeps me from living my life and can be so debilitating that some days I don’t leave my room at all. I had even mentioned several times to my housemate that I didn’t want to go alone, and feel a bit betrayed as she swore she wasn’t going to any marches and went to one any way.

Petty, maybe, but I don’t trust her now.

For those of us with anxiety and depression there is so much stigma and guilt we bear that when our fellow female friends dismiss it, it’s even more devastating.

Here’s why I wish I could have been there.

I am a firm believer in equality for all. We have had the Equal Rights Act on the table for what, 90 some years, and it still isn’t ratified?? I am worried to death about insurance issues if the Affordable Care Act is repealed fully. My parents and most of my family will be affected. I worry about fellow veterans who are tossed aside after money-making wars. Our environment is in extreme danger and we do not have a back-up planet to go to!

Here’s what I’d like to say to anyone out there who may have found yourself in my position.

If you suffer like I do from anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues that kept you from marching, DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP OVER IT! Sign petitions, call your representatives, offer to volunteer at local political offices where the crowds are manageable. We can still fight the good fight, it just might not be on the mainlines. I am struggling with guilt over not going but I’m trying to do my part in the ways that won’t make me panic. It’s been a rough few months since Nov. 8. But I’m still here. I’m still fighting.

In my own way.

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

***

“When an individual is protesting society’s refusal to acknowledge his dignity as a human being, his very act of protest confers dignity on him.”
– Bayard Rustin

 

Up Here on My High Horse

“Look at you up there on your high horse.”

I’ve been hearing this a lot lately.

Have you?

Seems like any time I engage in a debate on Facebook about the recent women’s march, or just about scientific facts in general, I get told to “get down off of my high horse.” I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard this, and more often than not it has come from other local women in my small town.

I couldn’t seem to get that phrase off of my mind, so I decided to research it a bit. (For those who aren’t aware, “research” is a thing you do when you don’t understand something. It’s preferably done before you start speaking about a particular subject. I’ll wait if you need to go write that down.)

Okay.

I found a site called phrases.org.uk. Kind of a fun little site that helps you find out where certain terms originated from. This is what it had to say about being “on a high horse:”

“When we now say that people are on their high horse we are implying a criticism of their haughtiness. The first riders of high horses didn’t see it that way; they were very ready to assume a proud and commanding position, indeed that was the very reason they had mounted the said horse in the first place. The first references to high horses were literal ones; ‘high’ horses were large or, as they were often known in mediaeval England, ‘great’ horses.”

Okay, so let’s break that down. What is now used as a term of insult, actually didn’t used to be that way. It was almost a term of honor. It was used to refer to the people who were in a “proud and commanding position.”

A proud and commanding position.

Well.

So, how do I respond to that?  Am I actually up on a high horse like I’ve been accused of being?

I only know one way to answer that.

Hell yes I am!

And here’s why.

During the Women’s March last weekend in Washington, D.C., my friend Cassondra and I were literally smashed between thousands of people. We could not see anything other than the backs of the person in front of us. Sometimes we managed to squeeze ourselves into a position behind a person shorter than us and, in those rare moments of being able to breathe, were actually able to see the speaker on the television screen who happened to be talking at the time.  We couldn’t really hear them, mind you, but we could at least see them for a split second before our view and breath was obstructed yet again.

At one point amidst the ‘standing room only’ crowd, my claustrophobic and exhausted friend started showing signs bordering on a panic attack. I asked around to see if anyone knew of a place we could go to get out of the crowd and, while that was practically impossible, one person did point out that there was a long tunnel-like alley leading down to a locked underground passageway beneath a nearby building. At this point (this would change later, mind you), not many people were down there because of the sight restrictions. The crowd parted in what little way it could to let us make a small path to this spot to give my friend some breathing room.

When we got there, while she could breathe easier and we felt less struggle, we couldn’t quite forget what we were missing up there. Above us, history was being made. We were there to document it, photograph it, write about it – and yet here we were hiding in an alley.

Why were we doing that?

I’ll tell you why

Because it was hard up there.

It was, man. It was hard.

It was terrifying even.

It is a scary thing to put yourself in a situation that you’re not sure you can get out of. We were both asking ourselves why we were there. Why we had subjected ourselves to this flood of people. How were our two little faces in the crowd even going to matter?  Why hadn’t we just stayed home?

And then suddenly, I had an idea.

Our little alley was positioned behind a row of portajohns, and behind that row of portajohns was a metal railing. After studying it for a few minutes, I wondered if it might just be possible to climb up there and snap a photo from up above. It wasn’t going to be easy, I knew that, and we might even hurt ourselves (or her fancy camera) in the process.  But how were we going to let people know what we saw if we weren’t even seeing it ourselves?

We had a job to do.

And by god, we were going to do it.

So, between the two of us and some awkward maneuvering, we managed to ‘scale the wall’ (take that however you’d like) and rise above it.

And when we got there, this is what we saw:

hats

Photo by Cassondra G. Photography

From up there at my vantage point – on my “high horse” if you will – I could see what I couldn’t see while I was down in that pit. I could see hundreds of thousands of people in every direction you look. A sea of pink hats representing a common goal. Men, women, black, white, Hispanic, Christian, Muslim…you name it. They were there.

And what a sight it was to behold.

Here’s the thing about climbing out of a pit and seeing what you couldn’t see before. It’s addictive. You get up there and you realize that is where you want to be. You realize that hiding down in the pit is not going to get you anywhere. You’re missing it. You might feel like you have room to move down there, but the truth is – you don’t. You’re stuck.

You have to climb out. You have to get up on that high horse and take a look around. Be proud. Be commanding.

Make a difference.

And then come back to tell people about it.

“Birds born in a cage think flying is an illness.”
– Alejandro Jodorowsky

Don’t be like that, okay? Don’t think that flying is an illness. Don’t think that rising above the situation that surrounds you is going to be a bad thing. Are people going to talk about you up there? Sure they are! Why? Oh, I don’t know. Maybe they think it’s not fair that you got to be up there and they didn’t. Maybe they think that you’re trying to be better than them because you took the time and initiative to climb out of the status quo.

And you know what?

They’re right.

You are better than them.

You took the time to look around for yourself. You took the time to break out of that cage and see what flying really feels like. And when you got there, you realized you weren’t alone. There was a whole sea of people out there waiting to fly with you.

In conclusion, to the next person that tells me I’m up on my high horse, I’d like to thank you. Thank you for the reminder that yes, I am up here. And I’m not coming back down because I can’t.

Can you possibly understand that?

I just can’t.

The view is way too nice from up here. I can’t imagine climbing back down.

But you know what?

There’s plenty of room up here. I’ll slide over and let you on too if you want.  I promise.

All you have to do is ask.

***

“Where there is an open mind, there will always be a frontier.”
– Dorothea Brande

womens-march

 

Attention-Seekers: The Women’s March on Washington

“The best protection any woman can have … is courage.”
– Elizabeth Cady Stanton

***

“We’re with a group of strong, beautiful women. We’re fine.”

metropicThese were the words that my travel companion and dear friend Cassondra uttered to her concerned mother by telephone as we made our way into Washington DC by metro train for the Women’s March on Washington early on the morning of January 21, 2017.

I’ve had to replay Cassondra’s words many times in my head in the days since. I’ve needed the reminder that those simple words provide. I’ve needed the strength, the affirmation, the love.

Because, let me tell you, the days following Saturday have not been easy.

The only way I know how to describe it is that I’ve walked out of a sea of love into a swarm of hatred.

I live in a small, conservative area. I don’t mean to use the word “conservative” with a negative connotation, but I’m just going to have to say it like it is. The minds around me tend to be small. They can’t (won’t) stretch far enough to take in all that is out there in this big world. I’ve become used to it. I’ve become accustomed to the responses I receive any time I go against the flow (which is pretty often). This is nothing new. I knew there’d be negativity. I was prepared for it. It’s pretty much the status quo for me.

But what I wasn’t prepared for?

What took me surprise?

The response from some of my friends.

My FEMALE friends at that.

“I’ll march at the ‘we’re all a bunch of hypocritical asshats that love to point out the splinter in another’s eye while ignoring the log in ours’ protests.”

“I didn’t ask anyone to march for me.”

“No one ‘fought’ shit. You guys walked around getting pats on your back from people who already agreed with you.”

“They’re just a bunch of attention-seeking whores.”

Lovely, huh?

And, oh no….these were not comments that I just plucked off of the internet, mind you. These were said by women I know personally. Women I considered friends. In fact, one of them was one I had even considered one of my best friends right up until the moment my eyes met those words.

I feel shell shocked.

I’ve been running their words over in my mind.

Attention-seeking whores.”

Women (and men) just looking for “pats on the back.”

I suppose there is some truth to some of it. Really. For example – attention-seeking? Okay, actually yeah. That’s exactly what we were doing. Exactly. Drawing attention to the things that get swept under the rug. The drastic wage difference between men and women. The daily cat-calling, condescension, and groping that women are submitted to.  The men who make their eight-year-old daughters cry because they want their hair cut but daddy refuses to “let them” because the Bible says they’ll go to hell. (Oh yes. True story.) The Brock Turners of the world who serve three mere months in jail for damage that a woman will live with forever, because it may have hurt his little swimming career.

The men who brag about grabbing women’s pussies against their will because they have the power to do so, and yet advance to become the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

Are we wanting attention? Well, yeah. I suppose you can say we are.

So, attention-seeking – I’ll give you.  Whores?  Hell, I don’t know. Maybe some of them out there have been paid for sex. Me, though? Notsomuch. So I’m gonna have to pull a snopes on you for that one. FALSE.

Now. Are we looking for “pats on the back”?

Hmmm. Actually, I think that might be the other way around. We were there to give those pats on the back.

nastywomanmanTo the woman I overheard trying desperately to hear on her cellphone as the crowd thickened and the decibel level rose because she was calling to make sure her son made it to soccer practice? Yes. That woman deserves a pat on the back. So, here. This pat is for you.

To the man who married a “nasty woman” and showed up to show his support and love for her and all women like her? This pat is for you, sir.

To the woman carrying the sign that said, “I’m the lesbian daughter of a Muslim immigrant?” This pat is for you, you strong, beautiful, brave woman. And here’s another one for your mom.

babyTo the many women in the crowd who carried their babies on their person for hours at a time so that they could be a part of an historical event to have their voices heard? This pat? Yeah. This one is definitely for you. What a story you’ll have to tell them. Kudos to you, momma.

To the little latino girl on her daddy’s shoulders beaming as she watched 6-year-old Sophie Cruz, daughter of Mexican immigrants, give arguably the most rousing speech of the day? That smile that covered her face as little Sophie told her, “I am here to tell the children, do not be afraid”?  Oh yeah, that one gets a pat on the back. And it would have gotten the biggest hug you’ve ever gotten from a ginger stranger if I could have reached you, you sweet little thing you.

hatefearTo the teenager holding the rainbow sign showing the USA and the words, “No hate, no fear, everyone is welcome here”? A pat on the back for you, little warrior woman. I know full well how tough it is for a teenager who is “different.” How brave you were to walk through the streets of that big city and show the other kids of the world that you were on their side.

To the woman wearing the race bib on your shirt that said “Sarah bear”? Being a runner myself, I had to ask you about it. I thought it was yours. When you told me that you were wearing that bib in honor of your young daughter who had just passed away? I couldn’t stop the tears from pouring. You definitely get a pat on the back. A big one. You possess a strength that I couldn’t possibly know. You are my hero.

To the woman who wrote this sign we found propped against a fence at the white house:

sign

This blog would go on forever if I kept up with all of these ‘pats on the back,’ so I’ll finish it up with one final one.

To the woman who stood by my side through it all. The woman I watched feed a homeless man; defend a woman who was being verbally attacked by a stranger on the street; force a parting of the crowd to help a woman break through to find her son. The woman who continually asked people’s stories. Who felt people’s pain. Who engaged everyone in conversation. Who shed tears on countless occasions simply because she was standing where she was and doing what she felt in her heart to be right. The woman who never wanted to be in front of the camera because she was too busy behind the camera –  documenting the happiness, the strength, and, sometimes, the pain. The woman who lost her job while we were on this trip because of a landslide in our small town, yet who set that worry and grief aside long enough to focus on the matter at hand, and do her part in preserving a piece of history. I laughed with her, I cried with her, I raged with her.

We became sisters.

cassondraSo, to Cassondra? An extra special pat on the back for you, lady.

*THIS* is what this trip was about. This is what this weekend was about. This is what that day was about. This was what that march was about.

Sisterhood.

Togetherness.

Connection.

Strength.

Love.

Determination.

We are going to be there for one another. We just are. Not just Cassondra and me. Every woman that stood there side by side in a collective love.  That day was just the start. The start of something big and beautiful.

And I will not…I repeat, NOT…let pettiness stand in my way.

There will be more stories to tell, I promise. Cassondra is a photographer and there will be photos coming that will blow you away. Her photos will tell stories that my words never could. Wait for them.

We are not through yet.

I just had to get this out while it was weighing on me.

I had to fight back against the oppression, even if it was coming from friends.

We won’t be stopped. You don’t have to understand this now. But one day you will.

One day you will.

not-over

Sign left outside a café the morning after the march in DC

Divisiveness

gayrightsblog

Wow.

Just wow.

Every so often, another huge battle comes along in our society.  Here we are again.

If you’ve been living under a rock, let me explain the above picture.  The first is the symbol of ‘equality’ in reference to marriage.  (I refuse to call it “gay marriage,” because that goes completely against what the “equal” sign advocates.  Marriage is marriage.)  The second is the symbol of believing that marriage should remain between one man and one woman.  Using a “not equal” sign seems pretty self-explanatory – if you want anything other than a man/woman marriage, then you are not equal.

If you’re on facebook, you’ve seen these symbols floating around everywhere.  I’m no exception.  I’m not going to keep this unbiased.  I am proudly supporting my equal sign and do not care who knows it.  But something was recently brought to my attention about all this, and I want to address it.

I was told (as I’m sure many of you other “loudmouths” were – which term I use in the nicest way possible because I’m grouping myself with you) that Facebook is not the “place” for such displays and that some things just need to be kept silent.  That in standing for my beliefs, I am actually creating the divisiveness, not helping to amend it.

Hmm.  Fair point.  It definitely caused me to think.  And even caused me to blog about it.  (Oh, who am I kidding?  I blog about everything.  I want to blog when I see an ant eating a bread crumb.  But aren’t they just so darn cute?  They’re little bitty legs trying to tote this massive piece of bread back to their little bitty wives and little bitty families….  Ahhhem.  I digress.)

So, yeah.  Am I creating divisiveness by stating my point?  I think the answer to that lies in how we choose to state our point.  I’m not trying to argue.  Contrary to what many people might believe, I’m really not.  I know people have serious strongholds when it comes to their mindset on this issue.  I’m not delusional enough to believe that my own little voice (ok, my one HUGE voice) is enough to change anyone’s mind.  And I’m not trying to.  But what I am trying to do is this – (1) I want other people who feel the way I do to realize that there are others out there who feel the same and that they don’t need to be hesitant to voice an opinion that may or may not be the “popular” one.  And, (2) I want those people who are actually being affected by this decision that is to be handed down by the Supreme Court to know that they have allies.  That I don’t have to be gay to support their cause.  That they have support – and not only in people who share their same lifestyle.

And that’s it.

I’m fully aware that there are people who will disagree with me.  That’s cool.  Whatevs.  I’m willing to be an adult about it.  Are you?  Yesterday I was involved in a somewhat heated debate back and forth with someone who feels very different about this issue than I do – and yet we were simultaneously sending messages back and forth in another forum trying to plan a date to get together to catch up over dinner and a movie.  We’re still friends.  Our differing views aren’t going to change that.  And if it did – then I would be going against everything that I’m trying to stand for here.  That everyone – regardless of their belief system, or lack thereof – is equal.

In other words, can’t we just all get along?  Agree to disagree?  Live and let live?

Isn’t that what this is all about after all?

So, am I causing devisiveness?  I don’t mean to.  If I am, I’m sorry.  But as I have taught my children, and as I hope they’ll teach their children in years to come, you absolutely have to stand for what you believe in.  And in doing so, you are showing the world that you are unique, that you have the capacity to feel, and that you have the strength and the courage to be you.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Never shut up.

Never ever ever shut up.

***

“If I were to remain silent, I’d be guilty of complicity.”
– Albert Einstein