I recently attended one of the sister marches to the Women’s March on Washington in Asheville, NC. I participated in this event for my own reasons; as a result of personal experiences and encounters I know that others have endured. I went respectfully and the march was a peaceful and beautiful event full of hope and passion.
However, as a result of this march I have seen and been the recipient of some very concerning comments. Mainly these backlashes have occurred with posts on Facebook or backhanded comments, and many seem to be wondering what exactly I was marching for.
Here is your answer.
I march because I am an intersectional feminist, and contrary to popular belief, that is not an excuse to hate men. Many seem confused about what feminism means, so let me break it down for you. Feminism is the radical idea that women should be seen and treated as equally valuable when compared to men. My feminism is not rude and it does not believe that women are superior. I do not want to be treated as inferior. I am submissive to Christ, but I will not be submissive to an oppressive system.
I march because I want to be paid equal wages for the same work, and believe it or not there is statistic after statistic that proves there is a significant wage gap. Because I want to have paid maternity leave when I am older and because I desire healthcare that is affordable and covers things like birth control and cancer screenings. (Side note: whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, the government funding of Planned Parenthood is legally banned from abortion allocation. Instead, it goes towards pregnancy counseling, birth control, cancer screenings, and STD screenings, making up the overwhelming majority of what PP does. All of which help prevent abortions and save lives.)
I march because I am frustrated when teachers often look to males in the classroom, expecting an answer to their question, as if males are inherently smarter. Because I am told that showing my shoulder is a distraction, and I am sent home to change. And that a boy’s right to walk the halls without this "distraction" is more important than my education. I march for all the times I felt obligated to force out a half-hearted laugh at a "go make me a sandwich" joke, and for all the times I bit my tongue when a man made a comment about my body. I march because I want the term “glass ceiling” to be nonexistent. Because the concept that a woman is unfit to lead is extremely hurtful and wrong. I march because I am tired of being silenced.
I march because women are seen as objects and not as wondrous creations that should be valued and appreciated. Instead, some men only want to take and control, not love and cherish. I march for all the women who have been beaten by the person they loved. I march because I do not want to be cat-called or feel fear as I walk down the street at night. No. That should not happen. I do not want to be judged by the shape of my body. This is why girls are plagued with eating disorders. This is why girls are told they are pretty before they are told they are smart. I march because I, and almost every girl I know, have been subject to sexual harassment. I am not an object to be used for your pleasure. But somehow this claim is drowned out by the sea of voices who demand a beautiful body rather than a beautiful soul.
I march because I am told at a young age that yelling “Fire” is more effective than yelling “Rape.” I march for all the girls, and there are so many, that have experienced this horror and yet are too scared to tell, and the rapist will most likely go free. Yet, our prisons are filled with people who have committed non-violent crimes. I march because everyone (no matter what party you align with) should have been outraged that the President spoke of sexually assaulting a woman, and then dismissed it as “locker room talk”. I march for all those stolen to be sold into sex trafficking. I march because Brock Turner and others like him should not be able to strip a girl of her clothes and dignity and consume, as if her consent wasn’t required for his taking.
I march for women all over the world who are oppressed by systems of patriarchy. I march for the women taken by Boko Haram. I march for the girls in other nations who do not have the right to education and for those that are the victims of sexual assault. I march for these precious women who are told they have no rights at all. And I recognize that as a citizen of the United States, I have many more rights than these women around the world, but that does not make my fight unimportant.
I even march for the unborn, but I also understand that the decision that a woman makes is extremely painful and difficult. Though I do not support abortion and it breaks my heart, I have empathy for women who have been the victims of rape or whose lives are in danger, something that many in the government have never experienced. Often the best way to prevent abortion is better health insurance, better sex education, a better adoption system, and actually putting rapist in jail. These are the roots of the problem and they must be addressed.
I march because I value the work of those that have gone before me to give me the right to march. Or the right to speak out against the march.
I march for my brothers and sisters of color who are still the recipients of a system that supports white supremacy. I march because racial profiling, stop and frisk, police brutality, and unequal incarceration rates are not okay. I march because you are told that you should “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” and “work harder.” The reality is that many of our white ancestors received money from the GI Bill and even further back, the Homestead Act, of which we are now the product. Talk about government handouts. I march because many would rather enjoy the comfort of the status quo than pursue justice.
I march because I do not support the systems at play which favor one skin color: white. And I get it, it is a natural response when you and I have been part of a government that has put our needs first for so long, but here is the reality: We are threatened by the idea that soon we might not have the advantage over others. It feels as if something is being taken from us, when truthfully, people are just beginning to wake up and recognize that systemic racism is in play.
I march because I do not support racial slurs, but I also do not support a color blind mentality. We do NOT live in a post racial society. Yes, we are different, but I recognize that I have a culture (yes, I have a culture, contrary to the normalization of white culture) and so do you, and they are equally beautiful and unique. I march because I value diversity.
I march because I support all those that have immigrated here in hopes of a better life. Because I understand that you are running from terrible situations all around the world. Because I know the number of people killed in the Drug Wars are tremendous and people are fleeing for their lives. And I understand that my ancestors were treated in a similar unwelcoming manner when they migrated from Greece. And the Scots-Irish were treated the same way before the Greeks and Poles. We must learn from the past rather than continuing to repeat our mistakes.
I march because I do not support the hateful rhetoric that assumes that immigrants are taking our jobs. And I know that there are far more rapist and drug dealers born and raised right here in America than crossing our border. Because I do not support the breaking up of families or the building of a wall. Because I do not believe that any human being is illegal.
I march because regardless of whether you morally agree with the choices of the LGBTQ community, people deserve to be treated as people--made in the image of God.I’m saddened when I listen to churches preach condemnation towards the LGBTQ community while the pews are full of people committing adultery or living with an addiction to pornography, and nothing is said. Don’t get me wrong, I am a Christian and I love God’s church, but I think that sometimes our pride and pointing fingers get the best of us. This attitude only isolates people further from Christianity. I cannot imagine what it would be like to face this much hatred as a homosexual or transgender person, and I am so sorry to all my fellow human beings.
I march because I recognize that Muslims should not be judged by the actions of a radical few. Because I do not support a Muslim registry. Though I am a Christian, if a registry were to occur, someone better sign me up first. Because though we have different faiths, I support their right to religious liberty, and I recognize that a threat to one faith’s religious liberty is a threat to my religious liberty. And because I believe it is our responsibility to accept Syrian refugees. How can we deny safety and refuge to those that are suffering.
I march for those that have a disability and against ableism. I strongly oppose anyone that mocks those that have a disability. I march against the nominee for the Secretary of Education who stated that it should be up to the states to decide if they want to enforce the Individuals with Disabilities Act. All children deserve a good education free from discrimination that meets their needs.
I march because I see the effects of climate change and I understand the dire need that requires an upheaval of the way we run our energy, agriculture, and waste management. Because I believe that God gave us this planet to care and tend for. Because I want clean air and do not want to wear a mask when walking outside. Because I care that our ice caps are melting and support sustainable and clean energy. Because if I am wrong about climate change, we make the earth cleaner. But if you are wrong, we will destroy this beautiful and awe inspiring planet. We are meant to be stewards, not destroyers. This requires responsibility and a genuine care for the earth. How dare we destroy such beauty that is meant to glorify God to satisfy our own greed.
I march because since day one, Native Americans have been seen as a hindrance and have been subject to genocide and relocation. Because I stand with Standing Rock and certainly support their rights to land and to clean water. Because I am outraged that lobbyist, especially of the oil and gas industry seem to be drowning out the voices of real people. Because the children of Flint, Michigan deserve water that will not make them sick. Because the Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone Pipeline should be fiercely opposed. Because once again, the interests of wealth have outweighed those of people.
I march because Jesus associated with the poor and the neglected. He sought out those that the religious pushed to the side. He approached the unapproachable because they were the ones who truly had a heart for him. He commanded us to take care of the orphan, the widow, and the refugee. I think we all (myself included) have a lot to learn in this area. The Church often uses rhetoric that assumes a false dichotomy between social justice and Christianity-- as if God has no real concern for our physical state, oppression, or injustice. I ask, what is spiritual that does not incorporate our whole being? This distinction is quite simply, false, and it pushes many away from Christ. Accusations that I am not a Christian because I stand for treating all people decently, or because I voted differently than you are hurtful. No one fits neatly into one box. Because I am both a Christian and feminist and both stereotypes are not an accurate representation of what each of those terms really mean.
So, for those that claim that these marchers were simply whining about the election results. No. This march was much bigger than the fact that I voted for a democrat and the “other side” won. This march was about the fact that a man ran his campaign on bigotry and misogyny and WON. The election was evident of the disregard for character and the tribalism that took priority over decency. It was devastating for many not because they subscribed to the democrat versus republican narrative, but rather a general fear and disbelief that so many elected a man with such obvious flaws. I thought that many would recant their support for Trump after the Access Hollywood tape. To my horror, I was instead met with defensive hostility or silence. This march was about making a statement that I will not stand for hatred.
So maybe you think that you didn’t need this march. That’s great; I’m glad that you do not have to experience any of the issues I have described above. But for many, this is the reality. I support your right to speak out against this march, just I support my right to march.
I pray that we would all have the decency to listen to one another and treat others with kindness. I am friends with so many that voted differently than me but that does not mean that I look down on them or can't have reasonable conversations with them. I am simply writing this to explain why I chose to march, not to degrade or demonize those of you who didn't. I have listened for so long, but I found my silence destructive and cowardly. I feel an obligation to speak up. I recognize that I am still learning about politics, justice, and God, but I firmly believe that God's heart breaks when Christians give their full support to a man that speaks of women, immigrants, and so many others with such disregard for their humanity. I recognize that both candidates were less than ideal, but I am discussing the man who won. Christian is not synonymous with conservative, nor democrat. May we all have the reason to avoid tribalism and to think clearly and thoughtfully about these issues. May we have the hearts to care about those that are suffering, to practice empathy, and to have the courage to support positive change, even if that means criticizing our own party or rooting out our own prejudices that result in injustice and dehumnization.
I will stand for the marginalized and the oppressed. I will not support the President of the United States or anyone else that speaks about another human being in such a way. I will always strive to see God's image in everyone and to disavow the sins of nationalism. I marched for every human being, whether you think you needed this march or not. Personally, I had plenty to march for.