I watched with a little bit of envy and a whole heap of sadness because I also wasn't marching.
Eventually, I was so overcome with what I can only describe as grief that, instead of working on my novel (which is my standard Saturday morning appointment), I turned on a Will and Grace marathon and tried to laugh myself into forgetting. But here I am at 7 PM, still unable to rid myself of the knot in my stomach, and feeling I must put this grief into words. Words that won't, most likely, be received with much enthusiasm. And will, even more likely, be just another voice in the cacophony of voices already sounding. But here I am. And here it goes.
Today I was watching, not because I was unable to attend. I didn't have a previous engagement (apart from my novel - who would have been enormously understanding if I cancelled). I could have easily made the 2 hour drive to get to our great nation's capital.
I watched today because I was not welcome.
When first I heard about the Women's March, I was pumped. I wanted to see what it was all about. I went onto the website and read through their Unity Principles. Human Rights. Check. Ending Violence. Check. Reproductive Rights. Che—wait. What? I read further. "We believe in Reproductive Freedom . . . This means open access to safe, legal, affordable abortion. . ." Evidently if you have any qualms about abortion, you aren't invited to the party.
Because of my faith and my belief that every single human life matters - even the unborn - I don't get to participate in a movement that I care deeply about. Abortion, I believe, is a human rights violation that stems from women's rights violations.
Okay, maybe I could overlook this. Maybe I could still participate. Then I read this:
Quite honestly, I'm not interested in arguing the points of pro-choice vs. pro-life. Mostly I'm not interested in arguing because arguing has never changed a mind or built a bridge. (Though it's destroyed a bunch.) I'm interested in the fact that a march promoting tolerance and unity and peace and equality has categorically alienated millions of women in this country.
What a collosal missed opportunity.
A few years ago I spent time with a friend who had chosen to have an abortion. She told me, "I felt trapped. Like I had no other choice." I believe that's how most women feel when they choose abortion, trapped.
But what if their job allowed for paid maternity leave.
What if there was a safe place for a woman in an unsafe situation to go so that she could actually raise her child.
What if a woman was paid the same wages as her male-counterparts so that she could provide for a growing family.
What if a woman had access to decent, affordable healthcare. (I realize this opens the contraception can of worms. I also am not interested in going there and arguing either. Because it's beside the point.)
The point is: if we could address the other Unity Principals stated on the Women's March page, abortion could potentially become a non-issue. These other women's rights violations (in the workplace, in government, in immigration, in the breakdown of civil rights) create a human rights violation (abortion). Call me optimistic (I've never pretended to be otherwise), but I'm convinced that together we can affect change that surpasses what those who marched today and those who watched could even imagine.
Would it be easy? Absolutely not. The road to anything worth having is never easy, simple, clear-cut, or even distinguishable at first. But it's a road from which we need to cut back the overgrowth blocking the entrance and start to travel.
Because we are women. We know how to play together without bullying someone out of the sandbox. We are all of us strong. powerful. passionate. worthy. And we are capable of greatness together.
Just imagine for a minute the force we women would be if we joined together. Imagine the inundation of women our capital and our new President would have seen if this hadn't been an exclusive march.
So now, instead of grief, I'm actually feeling angry. Because our fight for women's rights could have been so much bigger. Millions of women sitting at home and watching could have been marching alongside our sisters. Because, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, social class, or political persuasion, we all want the same thing. We are all looking for better.
Right now I'm sitting at my kitchen counter writing this. Next to me are my 2 youngest daughters playing with paper dolls. And the only thought in my head is that I want more for them. I want better for them than a country full of women that tells them they have to fit a mold for their convictions to matter. That they have to agree to the enclosed checklist to be allowed to participate.
All of us want to raise our daughters in a country that values them as much as their brothers, offers them the same opportunity, grants them the same freedoms and privileges, and recognizes their contributions, thoughts, words, dreams, and, yes, even their bodies as valid, worthy, and beautiful.
We want to live in a country where inclusivity is, in fact, just that.
You may not agree with me. That is completely okay. That's the beauty of it all. We can still be friends even if we disagree. And I have many friends marching today who don't agree with me. And I love them fiercely, just as they love me (or so they tell me). And I am hopeful that one day I too will get to march alongside them.
(I should add that if your disagreement turns to mean or disrespectful comments on my blog page, they're going to disappear. Because I believe I made it clear that I have no interest in arguing. And we are bigger than insults. Thank you, friends.)