I don’t know what my grandmother would have thought about my current relationship. I don’t know her feelings around pro-choice vs pro-life. We never had those conversations. She was a very religious woman who was fiercely committed to her family. Her marriage was one of traditional gender roles. He worked and made the money. She put her dream of becoming a nurse aside and became a wife and a mother. She helped him in his business. She raised children. She kept house. All while looking cute and behaving like a lady.
What I do know though, is that while hers was not a loud or attention seeking strength, she was strong. She had convictions. She believed in human decency.
Her tombstone reads “She led by example” which was my idea although I got it from something her friend said during her eulogy. You see, my grandmother didn’t just ask people to be nice. SHE was nice to people. She didn’t just ask people to donate their time or money. SHE volunteered at a clinic for disabled people and spear-headed fund-raisers and donated her money. She didn’t just ask people to show compassion. SHE chauffeured people from what other people would consider unsavory communities to and from church and was always willing to visit someone in the hospital. Her and I sat side by side with a bed-ridden friend and just hung out. She was never too proud to step up and do what was right. She led by example – So even though it’s possible that some of our beliefs may be vastly different, that is one thing we share. We are not the ones to stay home waiting for someone else to get their hands dirty. We get out there and do. She raised me to believe in my own inherent strength and power and brains and beauty – without needing validation from a man.
I was among the hundreds of thousands who travelled to Washington DC this past Saturday. My driving force for going was to show solidarity. I wanted to be counted in the numbers so it could send a strong message. I wanted to send a message to the world that women are strong and capable and worthy of equal rights. I wanted to show my sons that women should be respected; not groped or grabbed by their privates. I wanted to add my voice to the chorus of those saying that LGBT+ people deserve equal rights and that the disabled deserve a free and appropriate education and to be free from discrimination. I wanted to make it known that I believe that Roe v Wade should be upheld. It is my opinion that being pro-choice in and of itself also gives you the right to be pro-life. Pro-choice is not pro-abortion, nor does it force anyone into a clinic. It simply means, that you are free to choose to act on what you believe in and I am free to act on what I believe in. I wanted to make it clear to anyone watching or listening that we, women, should not be ignored or underestimated.
I don’t even know where to start regarding how it went. I have so many favourite parts of the day. My brain is swirling with how to put it together. I have notes jotted down so I know all the facts; but it’s the feeling I want to convey here. The heartwarming togetherness of it all. People were just so nice to each other. They dished out compliments on each others signs or outfits. They waited patiently for their turn if there was tight space to move through. They helped each other up and down high ledges. They made room for wheelchairs and went out of their way to be gracious to older people and make them as comfortable as possible.
I definitely want to talk about the respect I had for some of the people I met after I heard their stories. These people who were of every racial make up, every religion, every age group, every sexuality, every profession, every part of the country. I spoke with a white woman from Connecticut who now lives in the Florida Keys and who had at one time been a teacher in Saudi Arabia. I spoke with a self-proclaimed “old white guy” from southern Virginia. I spoke with someone from Pennsylvania who has been protesting since the 60’s. She’s seen a lot in her life. I spoke with people from Tennessee and Atlanta. One lady who now lives in the Bahamas came just to take her nieces to the march because she wants them to feel empowered.
I want to share how surprised I was at my own emotions. I didn’t expect to feel so good seeing the number of men who came out in support of the women in their lives. Oh the men. They sported pink hats and carried signs. Local residents (mostly men with their children – perhaps because the women were marching) stood outside their homes to wave and to thank us for coming and to help with directions.
Oh my gosh our hats. I HAVE to talk about how while we were online at the train station someone came by handing out hats that had been knitted by women all over the country who couldn’t make it to any marches but wanted to do something. Each hat came with a note pinned to it telling us who had made it and where they were from. My hat came from Columbus OH. Shaunie’s came from California and included an email address. Shaunie immediately emailed the lady to thank her and to let her know that her hat had in fact made it to the march. It was such a beautiful gift.
There were other memorable moments … The lady who interviewed me for an audio documentary she was making. The 2 boys around the same age as my 2 who found a spot under a bridge and just stood there holding signs they had made which read “WE RESPECT GIRLS.” The cute little baby girl who was wearing her very own pu$$y hat that we asked to take a picture of and her Moms obliged. The lady who asked to take Shaunie and I’s picture because she liked our bow ties. Our train conductor who had to announce that the train would be skipping 3 consecutive stops due to overcrowding at the stations and who instead of dealing with angry riders got understanding riders; Nonetheless she apologized and wished us well and told us to be safe. Yes, it’s true that most of the people who attended the march were of a similar mind. But it is also 100% true that there were people there who were pro-life and there were people there who were Donald Trump supporters and no-one gave them a hard time or made them feel unwelcome. They were treated with the same respect and granted the same politeness as everyone else.
Sure we saw and heard some celebrities but they were not the stars of the show. The stars were the women and men and children who spent their day letting other women and men know that they care about them and their rights.
It was a long, tiring day. Unlike some people, we hadn’t brought any snacks so we were starving by the time we left. We took the wrong train which delayed us getting home by over an hour. We had to pay for a babysitter. But it was all worth it. I am so proud of us that we pulled it off without a single incidence of violence. Go women!
In closing, I’ll just share here, what I posted on my Facebook page following the march. On a personal level, it was hands down the best thing to come out of my participation. My boys will grow up knowing that women are equal to them and that we can do anything we set our minds to and that it is not to be feared or obstructed.
At the march yesterday someone was giving out kids t shirts for free. I brought 2 home. At first *Ace didn’t want anything to do with it because he’s 10 yrs old and eww, girls.
But it lead to a conversation. One of how important it is for men to respect women. One of how there are so many women amd girls all over the world who are mistreated or denied basic human rights such as an education or to drive or to vote. One in which we talked about how it’s not ok to body shame girls or stand by and watch other ppl demean women. One in which we talked about how women are often seen as less valuable or smart or capable than men. One where women often don’t get to make decisions around their own health care.
He thought these issues were a thing of the past. The things of history books.
We talked about how great America is and how important freedom, democracy and equal rights are.
This conversation may have been the best thing to come out of my marching yesterday.
We need boys on our side if change is going to happen. Mine will be.