I Attended The Million Women March And It Triggered My Anxiety

I Attended The Million Women March And It Triggered My Anxiety

Only a few times in my life have I felt like I was about to faint from being in small spaces or been terrified by huge crowds of people--This time, I felt both.
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Only a few times in my life have I felt like I was about to faint from being in small spaces.

I was ripping insulation out from underneath a woman’s house after a flood in Louisiana with my AmeriCorps FEMA Corps team. Army crawling, chin-deep in sewage, breathing in scratchy pink particles, narrowly avoiding huge millipedes and using the wet, sinking mud beneath me to navigate.

Only a few times in my life have I been terrified by huge crowds of people.

Keene State College was almost nationally known for their Pumpkin Festivals, until 2014 when things got out of control. It was a quaint New England family event where Main Street shut down and rows of carved pumpkins lined the downtown, but that year was different.

There were thousands of people roaming the streets and the larger than usual police presence was apparent. Some groups ripped street signs out of the ground and formed small mobs chanting, “USA! USA!” collectively down the streets, but it was that night when letting loose truly turned into wreaking havoc.

I was in the apartment of my then boyfriend watching the lines of police surround the glowing flames that radiated from a car flipped upside down. From a few floors up, a block away and behind closed windows, we could hear bottles crashing and the undecipherable shouts from the rioters. Months after it happened I could still hear them when I slept at night, I could still see the Molotov cocktails being tossed into the night sky.

At the time, I was unsure why it had affected me so deeply, after all, I was near it, but never in the thick of it. Everyone else on campus seemed to get past it relatively quickly. It was still very much the subject of conversations with teachers and students alike, but I did not notice too many who were bothered by it the way I was. Then I was probably too caught up in my own thoughts to notice anyway.

I know now why it haunted me.

It stuck deeply in my subconscious because there was no great purpose to the destruction, it was rioting for rioting sake. It was mob mentality. It was large groups of primal young people seeing how far they could go. While there should be no appropriate time for riots to take place, often it seems that something happens politically or otherwise to cause the collective behavior.

This time, I felt both.

At the Million Women March, the million women, men and children were a pointillist painting masking the streets of D.C., not a speck of gray pavement to be seen. Touching me on all sides were strangers to me, except for my mother of course. The fear coursing through me was that at any moment the ripple effect could take over and things could cease to be peaceful.

When my mother and I were initially released from the packed subway onto L’Enfant Station we found more and more crowds forming, and once the mass we were in finally made it to the station exit, there was a stand-still. The crowds kept filing in and filing in, making the surroundings increasingly more compact. The station workers were deciding how to best let the masses get through out into the masses at street level.

“There’s no way out,” someone in the crowd yelled. At this point, I was already light headed from the compact subway ride and feeling the imaginary whoosh of the train making its stops pushing through me, even after we stepped onto the stationary platform. After I heard the man’s voice yell out perhaps the worst statement you could make to a large group of people basically underground, the fear set in. All those horror movies with absurd plots about what happens when technology fails and masses of people are left to their animal instincts, came to mind. My breathing became increasingly shallowed and my head, faint.

The thing that I believe kept me from passing out was a simple mantra: “don’t fall”. I knew that if I fell I could easily get trampled as people were shuffling through as quickly as they could.

I thought of the man who was accidentally stomped to death by the herds of shoppers rushing into Walmart on Black Friday in 2008, but little did I know: this crowd was different.

“Don’t fall, don’t fall,” I focused my thoughts.

Finally.

“Single file, one at a time,” a station worker shouted. He was letting us go through one by one, and at that moment I could feel the tension leave my body as people were moving and empty space around me appeared.

The relief was fleeting and would come in waves, but never truly left me. We found ourselves moving from one huddle of people to the next. I was a small dot in a sea of humanity, but outside it seemed less threatening. There was still the potential of something setting it off and creating a domino effect of disaster, but it seemed as though the crowds silently decided that it wouldn’t.

There were babies in carriages, people and families of all shapes and sizes. This had to be a peaceful movement and while it did cause anxiety in more than just myself, no fire was set and no hatred emerged.

There are few words to describe the unfamiliar feeling of at times paralyzing fear and ultimately real pride and hope I experienced January 22, 2017.


Check out my footage from the march:


Cover Image Credit: Hannah Sundell

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6 Things You Should Know About The Woman Who Can't Stand Modern Feminism

Yes, she wants to be heard too.

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2018 is sort of a trap for this woman. She believes in women with all of the fire inside of her, but it is hard for her to offer support when people are making fools of themselves and disguising it as feminism.

The fact of the matter is that women possess qualities that men don't and men possess qualities that women don't. That is natural. Plus, no one sees men parading the streets in penis costumes complaining that they don't get to carry their own fetus for nine months.

1. She really loves and values women.

She is incredibly proud to be a woman.

She knows the amount of power than a woman's presence alone can hold. She sees when a woman walks into a room and makes the whole place light up. She begs that you won't make her feel like a "lady hater" because she doesn't want to follow a trend that she doesn't agree with.

2. She wants equality, too

She has seen the fundamental issues in the corporate world, where women and men are not receiving equal pay.

She doesn't cheer on the businesses that don't see women and men as equivalents. But she does recognize that if she works her butt off, she can be as successful as she wants to.

3. She wears a bra.

While she knows the "I don't have to wear a bra for society" trend isn't a new one, but she doesn't quite get it. Like maybe she wants to wear a bra because it makes her feel better. Maybe she wears a bra because it is the normal things to do... And that's OK.

Maybe she wants to put wear a lacy bra and pretty makeup to feel girly on .a date night. She is confused by the women who claim to be "fighting for women," because sometimes they make her feel bad for expressing her ladyhood in a different way than them.

4. She hates creeps just as much as you do. .

Just because she isn't a feminist does not mean that she is cool with the gruesome reality that 1 in 5 women are sexually abused.

In fact, this makes her stomach turn inside out to think about. She knows and loves people who have been through such a tragedy and wants to put the terrible, creepy, sexually charged criminals behind bars just as bad as the next woman.

Remember that just because she isn't a feminist doesn't mean she thinks awful men can do whatever they want.

5. There is a reason she is ashamed of 2018's version of feminism.

She looks at women in history who have made a difference and is miserably blown away by modern feminism's performance.

Not only have women in the past won themselves the right to vote, but also the right to buy birth control and have credit cards in their names and EVEN saw marital rape become a criminal offense.

None of them dressed in vagina costumes to win anyone over though... Crazy, right?

6. She isn't going to dress in a lady parts costume to prove a point.

This leaves her speechless. It is like the women around her have absolutely lost their minds and their agendas, only lessening their own credibility.

"Mom, what are those ladies on TV dressed up as?"

"Ummm... it looks to me like they are pink taco's honey."

She loves who she is and she cherished what makes her different from the men around her. She doesn't want to compromise who she is as a woman just so she can be "equal with men."

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Patriotism Is More Than Putting The American Flag On Everything

Because honestly, people in other countries don't wear their flags like we do - and they still love where they live.

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Patriotism is "the feeling of loving your country more than any others and being proud of it," according to the Cambridge dictionary. Nowhere in that definition does it mention painting flags on vehicles or wearing them on our clothes is a requirement. It's not even recommended. Yet somewhere along the way, America got in its head that if you don't wear flags on your clothing at least 24 times a year, you must be committing treason or a terrorist or something.

Now I am obviously exaggerating! However, there are so many other ways to be patriotic, and it is time for 'Merica to understand that.

In order to love your country more than any others and be proud of it- AKA being patriotic- help make your country a place you should be proud of. Support things that not only benefit yourself but your children (or children in general if you don't have any of your own).

Maybe this means voting for higher taxes on yourself to improve the quality of life for others. Higher income taxes actually benefit the upper class because of write-offs, while higher sales taxes benefit the middle and lower classes. Why? Rich people buy more stuff and can't write it all off.

I know, I know, I know. This country was founded on the hatred of taxes. "Taxes are stealing." The whole bit. But taxes are a required part of life, so start thinking about how to best use them.

Universal healthcare is paid for through tax dollars. I get it- "that's socialist and we aren't a socialist country" or whatever your argument is, but hear me out... We are supposedly guaranteed the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness... People cannot choose if they will be healthy or not. Not having universal healthcare means not everyone is insured and can go to the doctor, which means as a country we are telling people who cannot afford those things that their lives are somehow worth less... Is that not a denial of the unalienable rights we bragged about at our country's founding?

Oh, sorry, was that off topic? In order to have patriotism, we have to have something to be proud of... If we have a country full of sick people who can't get better, should we really be proud of that?

Should we really be proud of a country who seeks to destroy our environment for finite resources instead of looking to renewable energy sources to create cleaner power- and more jobs? Should we be proud of a country that thinks of diplomacy like a business? Should we be proud of a country where diversity is avoided, and we judge those different than ourselves despite claiming to be a melting pot?

Guess what? I'm not proud. I'm tired of living in a country that claims to be the best when it is only really number one at defense spending, arms exports, natural gas output, number of people incarcerated per capita, number of fast food restaurants, number of mass shootings per year, and highest medical costs.

I'm proud of those who have fought for our freedoms, be it at war or for civil rights at home, but I am not proud of what we've done with it all. I couldn't care less about how great our country was or can be. What I care about is living in a place where we take care of one another and want everyone to succeed, not just a handful of individuals at the expense of others. Life isn't a race- someone else's success or failure should not determine if you get the health care you need.

Paint your flags all over and ignore this if you like. Call me unpatriotic- I can handle it. If the state of America right now does not bother you, go on with your inaction. But patriotism has less to do with wearing flag bathing suits, and far more to do with being a contributing member of a society that does not stand for injustices. And right now, America, there are a lot of injustices.

I am patriotic; I am proud of the accomplishments in our past. But unless we start making advances and investments in a country and society that deserves pride... I'm ashamed to think of what is to come.

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