The Women’s March: 21 January 2017
Let this be
a rising sea,
an ocean of humanity —
a surge no obstacle can break.
Let this be
a tide of justice, fairness, sanity
by women born, by women led —
an inundation meant to spread
for our, and the nation’s, sake.
This is for the friends who called Sunday and said, “Tell me everything.”
And you, Catherine.
I’ll leave “everything” to others – much is already written about Saturday’s Women’s March in DC. This is my tale.
None of us knew how big this might be when we boarded our two buses at 2 am in Woodstock; hopeful, happy, determined. We gave our bus driver, David, his very own pussy hat.
My traveling buddy was Catherine Sebastian. She’s a photographer and veteran climate activist. She bought two tickets from the get-go, knowing someone would want the other one; that’s who she is. I’m her someone.
Our first inkling of crowd size hit as we pulled into our first destination, the parking lot for the metro station.
A murmured wave of “Holy shit” spread through the bus when we saw the lines to board the metro. The first thing that struck me, as we hopped out and found our spot in line: no one was complaining. We smiled and made room for each other. Imagine that happening from now on, every time people stand in line. Yo ho.
When we stepped off the train at our stop, Archives, we became THE CROWD.
We were a hum of drumming, clapping, singing folk and, oh my gosh, signs. We were all colors, shapes and sizes. Moms, dads, grandfathers, grandmothers, kids of all ages, nuns, priests, wheelchairs, dogs, (yep), police, Veterans, women in beautiful hijabs topped with pink hats, superheroes draped in American flags and rainbow capes, queens in crowns and Princess Leias in white robes.
Up we went.
I took Catherine’s arm and sang, “Somethin’s happenin here…”
She answered, “What it is, ain’t exactly clear…”
And we both kept snapping photos.
I felt safe. DC’s finest were wearing pussy hats, for crissakes.
The white-grey sky cast its light over leafless trees: a perfect backdrop for the pink tsunami of us, taking shape in the streets.
We headed to where the stage was set up.
Ha! I just made that sound so easy. Let’s say we walked toward a Jumbotron on the horizon, above an ocean of words and hats.
Catching photos of signs along the way, we grabbed each other, in awe of the fantastic sights, laughing, crying tears of joy and wonder. This was for real.
And just like that, we stopped. No more moving ahead. As we stood, wondering what we should do, the crowd decided for us. There was to be no moving forward or moving back. The longer we stood, the tighter the squeeze. All prior plans, out of the question.
Catherine said, “Let’s go to the back of this,” and before I knew it, she was dragging me through spaces I’d never guessed I’d fit through. Civility reigned, and people let each other through, offering advice about where they’d just been, what the scene was like over there, back there, up there.
It took us an hour to do this. No worries, I just kept my eye on her pink hat, heh heh.
We found some breathing room at last, and heard the police decided to sort of re-shape the crowd, turning people back from heading to the stage. That was fine with us; the show was all around us. There was no time or desire to stand in one place.
Every child I saw was serene. Up on a parent’s shoulders, calmly checking out the scene, like it was nothing unusual or alarming. Or walking, some with signs. Or in a stroller, wide-eyed face topped with a tiny pink hat.
I took my cue from the littlest marchers. It was all good.
We’d see men; we’d thank them.
“Of course. We’re here for you!” they’d reply.
We smiled, crushing on that.
My husband was home watching it unfold on TV, and when he texted me the first photo of the crowd, it was the first time we saw what this looked like from the air.
Every time I’d show that photo to someone, same reaction: (Double take) “Oh my god! Is that us? Oh my god! Honey, look at this…”
Catherine’s husband called us with the early crowd estimate. Made us weep once again.
The impromptu march began – right from where we were standing.
We decided to head straight into it, head on. You know how normally people would frown upon such a thing? Not here. My video is below. Notice the “oh sorry” and the smiles and high fives. I stopped a lot to high five and bow to signs. You can see Catherine on the move ahead of me. There was no diabolical plan ahead of time to pass the Trump Hotel, it just happened. It’s interesting to watch the crowd’s calm, yet decisive reaction when it does.
Ok, you’ve seen the signs. They were fabulous. So creative, funny and true. Spelled correctly.
“We’re here to apologize on behalf of Ohio.”
“Introvert snowflake. Here anyway.”
Text from my daughter:
We walked toward the White House. The plan was to leave the signs there. With an eye on the clock, we turned and made our way to the metro stop, with no idea what we’d find. We found more long lines and more camaraderie. We stood for our 45-minute ride back to the parking lot. More than once, sitting people offered their seats to people standing. What?
We poured out of the trains to load the buses, singing, “Lean on Me” and helping each other get where we had to go.
We had to climb a fence to finally get to our bus. I smiled inside on the way over, glad to be in that very spot at this very age. Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, the man wrote.
We made it home, tired but peaceful.
Imagine my surprise on Sunday, to learn Trump fans were mocking us, crowing that we didn’t even know what we were marching for.
Trust us, fellas, we knew why we were marching.
I was trolled by a man on my Facebook page, (Now? After all this time? Has he met me?) suggesting it’s time to move on, and oh, it’s not healthy to be so angry.
Stop projecting, ok, darlin? And pick up the phone if you have something to say to me. Let’s talk. I’d love to tell you how this feels. And I listen.
There are two kinds of men in my life.
The kind who tell me it’ll be ok that a sexual predator has been elected president,
and the kind who call me to ask how I am, the morning after it happens.
My husband brought this when he met our bus. He’s that kind.
I marched because love must win.
But we have so much work to do.
No laurels to be rested upon.
It’s Day 4, and the shit show is as bad as we thought it’d be.
Works every time.
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But not listening.
It turns out the basket of deplorables is much deeper than we imagined.
It turns out Facebook was the basket of deplorables all along.
I laughed derisively at those who said Twitter was “about what you had for breakfast.”
“They don’t get it,” I thought.
I didn’t get it.
I happen to make part of my living in social media.
So I feed the beast and the beast feeds me.
I have some stuff to work out.
Andy Borowitz, on stage Friday night in Poughkeepsie, explained the election situation fairly simply.
He made a Breaking Bad analogy. I don’t think you need to have watched the show to understand.
In the show Breaking Bad, the main character, Walter White, finds out he has cancer. He must pay for treatment. He has no money. He discovers if he produces and sells crystal meth, he and his family can stay afloat.
Andy said, look at the media as Walter White. Their cancer: they were broke.
Their crystal meth: Donald Trump.
The networks gave him over 3 billion dollars in free air time.
And they got richer.
Andy reminded us of what Les Moonves said, “Donald Trump may not be good for America, but he’s good for CBS.”
I cancelled my cable on Friday morning.
And I cancelled the New York Times.
These are two things that will help me.
I hope you can find things that might help you.
Last night, I watched a clip of Dave Chappelle’s monologue on Saturday Night Live, and wondered if Lorne Michaels understands now, what he helped do. By having Trump on his show, so many times, for ratings dollars, he fed him to the viewing public as a plate of normal. He’s anything but.
Facebook feels like a screaming abyss of panic to me right now. Twitter is worse, because on Twitter, there’s no governor on the hatred.
Since 2008, when I joined Facebook, I’ve indulged in the selfie mentality of thinking what I was doing with my life should mean something to other people, instead of making damn sure it means something to me.
That’s 8 years! That’s a whole third grader.
Narcissism is how we got here, fellow deplorables.
And addiction to social media, all media, feeds the narcissism.
Addiction I can do something about.
I’ll share what Andy said on Friday, at the end of his show.
It’s the same idea I hung on to, as I sat in the dark silence of Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.
Change starts within. It’s all we can control.
To quote Andy again, “As Gandhi said – or maybe it was Melania Trump – I can’t remember – be the change you want to see.”
Thank you Andy, you’re one of our national treasures.
I need to put the phone down, and speak to people face to face.
For now, hello is enough.
And I’ll write.
God, I love you people — my tribe.
The messages, the calls, the hugs.
Yesterday, as my Zyban-like therapy for quitting social media (Zyban is the smoking cessation cure you get to take for 2 weeks while you’re quitting) – I spent time not unfriending, but blocking 37 people on Facebook.
Then, guess what?
I suddenly have entirely different things to say, on Facebook.
And outside of Facebook.
For now: here’s this.
More people voted for her.
Half of America didn’t vote.
Some people who voted for him are not hate-filled; they just needed a new system and this was the only avenue they saw.
(I’m still working on that one, but humor me.)
Things are broken. We broke them. WE, all of us.
We must fix them.
The Obamas are why we can’t have nice things.
This thing has been coming for a long, long time.
Since before many of the people who voted for him were born.
We must stop and think what and who it is we’re fighting, and then go fight it, with kindness.
Hint: it ain’t him.
ps: Did I mention how proud I am of my kids?
A person I admire and respect sent this essay to me, and gave me permission to share it.
She, like many of us, is distressed and alarmed by the recorded sexually predatory talk from Donald Trump.
Here’s her story.
It’s been challenging being a part of the human race the last few months. The ugliness, the despair, the nasty rhetoric…it’s hard to justify any of it and even more difficult to face it day after day. I guess, if you’re like me, you just care and want to recognize some humanity in humans again instead of all the hate.
Many of these assaults are “just” words. Social media as the format. A platform to hide behind and say horrible, awful things to friends and strangers. So does any of it actually matter? Words, I mean, what do words hurt?
If only the last civilized thing about us could be the way we treat each other, the way we speak to each other…it would be easier if we could love each other again.
I’d love to say none of it has bothered me, but the bombardment of sexism, misogyny and anti-female rhetoric has become more than I can handle. I know it’s in fashion for some people to mock the oft used phrase “trigger warning” but for some of us, it’s a line of protection we need.
I was 18 years old, from a typical small Iowa town when I left for school at one of Iowa’s universities. I’d had a serious boyfriend but we decided to date other people. I met a guy. He was a big deal. On the football team, which was in the middle of a run of many back to back appearances in national playoffs. It started out fun.
Then we were sitting in his dorm room talking with his roommate who all of a sudden left. And things were getting kind of amorous while we sat talking on the couch when all of a sudden he is pushing me facedown on the floor. My clothes were off, his clothes were off.
He made it clear what he wanted to do and I said, “No, I can’t”.
I said, “Stop. Please stop. No, I don’t want to do that. Stop.”
I tried to move. I couldn’t move at all. I was 5 feet tall, 100 pounds. He was 6’4” and outweighed me by at least 130 pounds. I was immobilized.
He didn’t stop.
He didn’t listen.
He ignored me.
I finally just whimpered into the pillow and waited for it to be over.
A guy I had just started dating sodomized me. I bled for three days. I spent the next days in a state of confusion. I thought he liked me? Why would he do that? It was an odd shock and unsettling feeling to know what he wanted was the only thing he cared about.
I saw him again a few days later. I was not a confrontational person but I felt a nagging feeling to say something. I simply told him that I didn’t understand how that had happened and that it was not a cool thing to do.
He became angry. He practically spit at me, “What are you complaining about? It’s not my problem you’re inexperienced!”
I was so surprised but I bought it. His line. I BELIEVED HIM WHEN HE SAID IT WAS MY FAULT.
I never reported him. I was too scared. I mean, we’d been dating, who would have believed me? No one, that’s who. No one. To this day, all these years later, I still feel guilty I wasn’t brave enough to file charges because I don’t know if he did it to another girl and for that I’m truly sorry and ashamed.
Months later I was hanging out with friends and we were having one of those deep talks you only have with people you trust and I talked about it, and kind of laughed it off I guess. My friend Tyler looked at me with such shock and pain, “You were raped! That is not your fault! You said no, you said stop! You were raped!” Then he grabbed me and hugged me hard and told me he’d help me if I needed anything at all. Like friends are supposed to do.
It took someone else verbalizing it to admit to myself that I had, in fact, been raped. By someone I thought I knew. And they had blamed it on me. It took an even longer time after that to even say aloud “I was raped. I am a rape survivor. I was a victim of sexual assault.” I didn’t say it aloud until well into my 30s.
I still have never said much but to a few trusted friends. It’s something I try to leave in the past. The last thing I want to keep feeling like is a victim because I’ve spent my adult life trying to be a strong, confident woman. But it’s hard when I turn on the news and see a Brock Turner story…I’m angry and sad all over again. I open up the newspaper and read real quotes from real politicians and I’m traumatized all over again.
I’m tired of being reminded I was once a victim when I see people who over and over and over treat women as less than, treat women as whores, treat women as slaves, treat women as trash. I’m afraid for my daughters. It keeps me up at night.
Maybe it’s just words. Sticks and stones, right? Just words. I’m sorry….my bones feel very, very broken right now. And I’m not OK with that. I’m going to keep fighting for women to have a voice and be treated fairly. I hope more people will too. -Anonymous
Dear Trump bros (that includes you too, ladies),
Let’s just take this ONE thing. For now.
The FACT that the GOP candidate for president is on tape bragging that he can sexually assault women, because he’s a star.
Grabbing a woman by the genitals is sexual assault. FACT.
Stop saying it isn’t.
When you vote for Donald Trump, please own the truth.
You’re voting for a man who sexually assaults women. Oh, wait, he was just bragging about it? Um, no. As the tape unfolds, he leaves the bus with his pimp Billy Bush. Billypimp forces the woman they’ve been mocking and denigrating on the bus to hug both of them. They both grope her. Assault.
So, when you vote for Trump, you’re acknowledging you don’t care about this. “Those are just words, folks.”
Please explain that to your kids after you vote. They should know what hand they’ve been dealt, up front.
“Sweetheart, mommy and daddy had to vote for an accused rapist and serial misogynist because his opponent deleted some emails, plus she was MEAN to our guy. Mmmkay? Now go outside and play. But don’t wear that short skirt. And put on a sweater, for godsakes.”
I want to believe people I “know” couldn’t possibly vote for this man after they’ve heard him talk casually about sexual assault, call a woman “it” and so much worse.
But I’m not that dumb. I know they will. They may say they’re voting for his fiscal agenda. WHAT FISCAL AGENDA? He has none. He is a failed businessman who repeatedly stiffs the people he’s hired. Which is the role model some seek, I realize.
Back to the grabbing women by the genitals thing he said.
Actress, director and writer Amber Tamblyn recently shared a story detailing the night an ex did this very thing to her.
Women thanked her; men mocked her. Business as usual.
Kelly Oxford received over 8 MILLION responses online, when she asked women to tell their assault stories. Read them.
I know I’m not alone when I tell you this: my own degrading experiences, and those of my girlfriends, have flooded my memory since this man started demeaning people on a daily basis, months ago.
Like when a boy in our 6th grade class decided to call my best friend “Pig” and boys of all ages joined him, and called her that for years.
When a visiting male “superior” came into my office at one of my jobs as a writer, and told me to call a cab and book a hotel reservation for him.
When I served as a sober cab for drunk men and one of them groped me from the backseat, the rest laughed. No one told him to chill. He asked me why I wasn’t nicer.
That last one reeks of the “Get over it, libtards!” response to the Trump Tape, from his male fans.
Ok, I’ll stop. These are the teeny tiny examples. I could go on. And on. And get far more graphic. But I’ll stop.
My point is Trump’s actions are faaaaaaaaaaar from unique in our culture. (Notice I didn’t say rape culture – at this point, it’s simply our culture.)
My dread and outrage are directed towards him, because he’s asked for it.
But please. Please, please, please don’t let this sick man become president of the United States. It’s okay to rethink it.
And lift a glass to Susan B. Anthony after you do.