I started second-guessing my decision to schlep to Washington, DC for the March a few days after I booked my flight and made arrangements to stay with my cousin in Bethesda. This is the way I felt immediately after the election: I have never been a political activist, but jeez, at some point, one has to make a stand, right? So what was I waiting for? At the time I booked the flight, I felt absolutely confident now was the time.
And then they announced that there would be a march in Boston. So, why was I schlepping to Washington? Transportation to and from the march would be a nightmare, it was expensive, I didn’t know the city. It might be freezing cold or raining. Then there was talk about about tear gas and terrorism. Did I really want to be an activist? Would my presence make any difference? Where would I pee?
Where was that woman who just a few weeks earlier felt such a strong pull to fly to the nation’s capital to protest? I had no idea. I wished that I had not spent the money on the flight. I wanted to stay home.
But on the Thursday before the march, pink pussy hats started showing up everywhere—at my Soul Cycle class, at the supermarket, and one, knitted by a friend, showed up at my front door. As I wore my pussy hat around town on Friday, women I didn’t know started to give me the thumbs up, wishing me well, thanking me for traveling to Washington on their behalf, supporting me with their words and their actions.
And that is when I started to feel part of something big, and important, and I started to forget my anxiety. My plane to Washington, DC– like thousands of buses, trains, cars and planes around the country headed to DC on Friday–was filled women proudly donning pussy hats—just like me. I felt bound in a common cause, and so proud and excited be part of the beginning of this new movement.
On Saturday morning, when I walked down the streets near the Capital to get to the march with hundreds of thousands of others , and I saw all of their peaceful protests—in the form of pink knitted hats and painted signs—I knew I had done the right thing. This was the beginning of something big, and I was there to not only witness it, but to participate in it.
I talked to women on the plane, on the metro, walking down Independence Avenue. Remarkably, almost every woman I met, regardless of her age (including a woman in her 80s), had never done anything like this before. If there is one thing we can say about our new president, he has unwittingly given birth to this new sense of urgency, a new movement in women’s rights. So many of us in Washington, DC were protesting for the very first time, driven by the current misdirection of our country. Like me, they had come because they believe what a woman does with her uterus is her own business. Like me, they had come because they believe in equal pay for equal work. Like me, they had come because when they heard the video tape of our president talking about grabbing women by the pussy, they wanted to shout from the ceilings, “Who talks like that?”
We came because we believe in science and real facts, not “alternate facts” and opinion. We came because we felt our country’s moral core has been violated, and we needed—at least for once, to stand up for what we believe in, despite the anxiety of participating, or perhaps because of it. We came because we wanted to stand with other, like minded women.
And I came because I missed participating in the first women’s movement- content to simply reap the benefits of the hard works of others, and I sure as hell was not going to miss this second one.
Besides, protests can be fun, if not a little edgy…
Gloria Steinham said at the march -“the constitution does not start with ‘I, the President’. It starts with ‘We, the people’. I went to Washington, DC so I did not forget that I am one of the people, and what I think matters.
And for next time? There were porta potties a plenty. Never a reason to stay home.