Tag Archives: women’s rights

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: “Bethany”

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.

***

Hi. I’m “Bethany.” (But not really.)

I really wanted to march in the Women’s March. I knew I couldn’t make it to Washington DC for the big march but I would have liked to march in a smaller, more local march. My reason for not marching was that I was out of town.

Sort of.

Okay, truthfully, I was glad to have an excuse not to march. Even though I feel strongly about everything the march stands for, I didn’t want to call attention to myself by participating.

Why?

Because I’m seventeen years old and I’m a lesbian.

Now, I’m not ashamed of this, don’t get me wrong. This wasn’t a choice, it’s who I am. I understand that and my parents understand that. Unfortunately, though, there are a lot of other members of my family who most definitely do not understand.

So I don’t tell them.

silentmarcher3The older I get, the harder it gets. I have a girlfriend – let’s call her “Jessica” – and we are very much in love. My parents and my siblings know, but the rest of my family doesn’t. My grandparents and aunts and uncles are very involved in my life and I want so much to tell them who I really am – to them how much Jessica means to me – but I just can’t. They are very religious and are the biggest Trump fans you’ll ever meet. It’s so hard to sit and listen to their conversations about how gay people are abominations and how they’re “going to hell,” all the while knowing that they are talking about me.

I don’t say anything though. Inside, I’m screaming. Inside I’m telling them how wrong they are and how hurtful they are being to someone that they are supposed to love. But outside? I just stay quiet.

I don’t like confrontation. I’m a peacemaker.

Prom is coming up and Jessica and I will be going together. It’s not fair to her or to me to not go. We want to be there and to experience this rite of passage that every teenager gets to have in their life. There will be pictures of us together so I know that the time of them not knowing is running out.

Honestly, I’m scared.

Not because of what they’ll think of me. I’ve learned to be tough and know that what I think of me matters more than what others think. No, it’s not that. I think I’m just afraid of disappointing them. I’m such a good kid in every way – I never get in trouble, I get good grades, I’m kind. But I feel like none of that will matter when they find this out. Knowing that I’m gay will wipe out everything else.

And that’s not fair.

So this is why I didn’t march. I just wasn’t ready yet. But equality for all is something that I’m very passionate about and as soon as I’m ready to raise my voice, I’ll make sure that it’s loud enough for everyone to hear.

Especially the others who are like me.

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

***

“I think people feel threatened by homosexuality. The problem isn’t about gay people, the problem is about the attitude towards gay people. People think that all gays are Hannibal Lecters. But gay people are sons and daughters, politicians and doctors, American heroes and daughters of American heroes.”
– Hollis Stacy

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

#WhyIMarch

“I learned I had to stand for something, so I could stand to be me.”
– Martin Sheen

The Women’s March on Washington is next Saturday, January 21, 2017, the day after President-elect Donald Trump is sworn into office.

And I, Melissa Edmondson, will be there.

My critical father asked me a simple question about this choice.

“Why?” 

Why?  Gosh, how can I answer that? How can I make my dad understand? How can I make anyone understand? How can I make me understand?

Allow me to borrow a few more words from Martin Sheen:

“I do it because I can’t seem to live with myself if I do not. I don’t know any other way to be. It isn’t something you can explain; it is just something that you do; it is something that you are. “

How can I say it any better than he already did?

I don’t know how to not be there.

I don’t know how to turn a blind eye to what is happening around us.

I don’t know how to make myself utter the word “President” before the word “Trump.” I don’t know how to watch as basic rights are being stripped away from the people I love. I don’t know how to watch a wall be built between two groups of people because they are different. I don’t know how to watch our country’s leader play footsie under the table with a horrendous dictator who kills innocent men, women and children with no remorse. I don’t know how to continue being the recipient of the “talking down to” that comes from the men around me. I don’t know how to watch men who don’t even know me make decisions for me about my body.

I don’t know how to watch my friend Jeff die because he is about to lose the insurance that pays for the treatments that are keeping him alive.

I don’t know how to do it.

“I don’t know any other way to be.”

I just don’t.

So, daddy, this is why. Is it the waste of time and money that you say it is? If we’re speaking in immediate terms, sure. Maybe it is. I’m not saving the world. I’m one small little pussy hat-wearing face among many. One little voice that will probably be drowned out by all the others.

But one day.

One day.

I will be remembered.

I will be remembered for speaking up. I will be remembered like the role models and heroes that came before me. My children will remember that I was not silent.

I will remember that I was not silent.

We have to fix this. We HAVE TO FIX THIS.

There is no other choice.

wall

***

“I honestly do not know if civil disobedience has any effect on the government. I can promise you it has a great effect on the person who chooses to do it.”
– Martin Sheen