I think it’s time for another digital detox.
Because after watching over 2 million men and women collectively march for the safety and equality of women and other marginalized groups, and in defiance of fear-mongering, racist, misogynistic, reckless, fact-less rhetoric, I also saw women post long and bitter diatribes telling us we should’ve voted* if we were so upset.
That we should stop whining and get over it.
How when Obama won, they just sucked it up, and so should we.**
How yeah, sure, maybe we mobilized the largest protest in the history of the United States of America — one that spanned literally the entire globe, touching each continent. But like, does that really change anything?
To that, I’ll just ask….In the course of human history, what else ever has?
So, seriously, I just can’t with this.
I refuse to have the empowerment, the love, the solidarity, the sheer, fantastical force of women (yes, primarily women) organizing and resisting in the name of what is right and good, be diminished or reduced by cynicism or blatant ignorance or fear or divisiveness.
When I woke up on Saturday and turned on the TV, I was greeted by the beginnings of a swell. It was a stormy morning, rain pouring down in sheets through claps of thunder.
But as the number of protesters grew, as pictures started rolling in from Atlanta, Washington, Prague, South Dakota, Boston, Denver, Scotland, Antarctica, London, Cuba, Paris, Cape Town, it became more and more clear to me that that thunder was us. It was the pounding of feet and the pumping of fists. It was the linking of arms, the disturbance of air from the waving of signs. It was the hum of a legion, an actual legion, of voices making it clear that we are here. That we are together. That we matter. That we are not invisible. That you will see us.
That we are cacophonous keepers of the gate.
I’ve seen images from protests in the 60s and 70s. I’ve watched documentaries about suffrage and slavery and Jim Crow and worker’s rights and Vietnam. But screens and book pages and years past keep us safely removed from history. They’re two-dimensional renderings of humanity.
What I saw and felt on Saturday was tactile, physical, visceral. I felt it in my chest, my hands, my knees.
It was galvanizing. It was brave. It was a beginning.
Yeah, I mean, I guess millions of people standing together in opposition of hatred and ignorance isn’t direct policy change. I get that there are also tiny, daily, proactive steps that must be taken. I get it.
But Saturday was a step. It was millions and millions of steps taken in the name of hope, of what is right (according to basic standards of humanity and decency). And ya’ll. Hope is the tide. Hope moves people towards action. Hope and solidarity are the currents of progress on which change crashes into the shore. I may be a little off in my meteorological metaphor there, but the point is this.
Saturday, we were tidal.
And you don’t get to say that’s nothing. You don’t get to say that’s not enough.
I’m confused and saddened by this defensive reaction from other women, and some men, — this feeling they have that because they didn’t march, or because they may have voted for Donald Trump, that we weren’t with them, too. That they had to declare their womanhood in defiance of the protesters and what they were trying to do.
That we didn’t want them to sit with us.
Ladies and gentlemen. There is no overstating here how much you are missing the point.
I’d like to make clear that my table is always open. That there is always an extra chair available so we can talk and learn together. That I myself have much to learn–about intersectionality, about the blinders white women can sometimes wear.
And the point is that those men and women were marching for you, too.
They were marching for your right to dissent or not, to raise children at home or not, to go to whatever church you want, to bake pies and bring them into the board meeting that you’re running, to raise kids in your hetero-normative nuclear family.
To bring home the same amount of money as your husband because you work just as hard, maybe harder.
To make sure you can afford to send your kids to safe and sound childcare should you ever need it.
To make sure you can afford to send that child to college, even if you don’t make 250k every year.
To make sure that if you ever have a child who is disabled in some way that they will be afforded the same opportunities as anyone else.
To ensure that if your child does not grow up to be a middle-class white male, he or she will still be safe walking home. Still have the real, true, and equal opportunity to make the very best of their lives.
To demand that you and your family will always have access to quality, affordable healthcare, regardless of your financial situation, regardless of whether or not you are already sick, and that should you find yourself in a medical emergency, the debts of it will not put your family on the street.
They marched so that you can trust that the food you’re feeding your family is safe and healthy and not subject to the whim of partisan corporations, and that you can always afford to buy it.
That the air and water and land that ALL of our lives depend on is protected and conserved.
So that, should you want to, you can go see a play, or a musical, or attend a concert, or visit an art museum, or attend a poetry reading, that those things will still exist for you to do so.
So that your children can learn about and make that art and music and poetry and literature — the very things that make us human — in their public schools.
So that if God forbid, someone hurts you, assaults you, violates you in some way, that they will be at the full mercy of a fair, effective justice system — regardless of their social standing, bank account, or relationship to you.
That’s what men and women showed up for Saturday. For you. For us. Because it’s all on the line.
I understand how hard it must be trying to reconcile the fact that the man you elected, and his appointed team, have looked you in the face through the TV screen and lied to you. That for the sake of your family and the life you live, you have to believe it. You have to look away and hope for the best. How else would you be able to come to terms with casting that vote and bearing the responsibility of its outcomes — the true reach of which we can’t yet know? (Though we do know now that the safety of immigrants, the healthcare of women, minorities, low-income people, and anyone else covered under the Affordable Care Act, the bodies of women, the environment, are all part of the first front).
I understand that it’s scary to consider that we’re living in the midst of revolutionary times, that they’re eerily similar to what we’ve seen and heard before in history books and classrooms. That surely it can’t be as bad as all these crazy liberals and their crazy liberal media are saying it is. And that feeling safe and sound every night is critical to your navigating your lives. That to do that, you had to take a gamble with your vote. I promise I understand.
Millions and millions of people protesting against what feels like you rather than the candidate you voted for feels alienating. I get it.
But do not deny or belittle what you saw on Saturday out of fear, of cynicism, or an ignorance you’ve adopted that you think will protect you. There’s bravery in listening. I encourage you to try.
And if you’re simply not interested in any of what I just said, then that’s fine, too. Like I said, there’s still an extra seat at my table.
And Saturday still belongs to the men and women who marched. It’s still a tide. Even if you decide to stick with the permeable safety of the shore.
*As reported, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2 million. The popular vote is the individual vote of each single person who cast a ballot. It is not representative of that state’s electoral count. We did vote. Two million more of us than you. So, don’t.
**No, you didn’t. See below.