OPED: We will step up and stand out on Jan. 21
- We march — black, brown, white, straight, cis, trans, gay — because we’ve been here before.
- And we know precisely what happens if we stay home.
We will march with people from across the country at the Women’s March on Washington, scheduled for the day after the presidential inauguration.
We march because we survived a bruising campaign season that started too early and went too long and at times felt like ripping off scabs to examine old wounds. In fact, the ripping hasn’t stopped, though we swear there was an election back in November for which we dressed in white, as did our foremothers, and cast a vote.
At least, we think we did.
We march because the winner of that election won’t stop campaigning, with rallies and goading on social media where he nibbles, threatens and humiliates in opaque, 140-character bites. One of his New Year’s messages said: “Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love!”
Here is where the “opaque” comes in: Was that “Love!” as in “Love conquers all!” or “Love!” as in “I love it that so many people are upset at my victory!”
Hard to say. Welcome to the next four years, where we will spend valuable time examining the goat entrails of our president’s bleatings on social media. In the days leading up to Christmas, The New York Times devoted no small amount of ink examining a 23-word tweet in which the president-elect suggested the U.S. greatly expand and strengthen its nuclear capabilities. Did he mean what we think he meant? Again: Hard to say.
We march because we cannot countenance the ascension to the Oval Office of a woman-hating, draft-dodging, no-tax-paying businessman who loves him some Russian leaders/hackers.
We march — black, brown, white, straight, cis, trans, gay — because we’ve been here before, and we know precisely what happens if we stay home.
We march, and that sometimes surprises even us.
“I’ve never been involved in something this big,” says Heather Whaley, a Connecticut author and screenwriter who has been handling the press for the state’s march. “I have protested and attended rallies, but never on this level.”
We march even if we haven’t marched before, because this feels different. We march because the Republican candidate ran a campaign based on hatred and bigotry (Muslim registry? Grabbing women by their what?) and now those of us he would belittle or worse are looking forward to giving him a taste of what he’ll see the next four years. Welcome to Washington, Mr. President.
In fact, “this march brings together these diverse groups, to send a clear message that we stand together against any attempt to dismantle the rights which have been hard won,” said Whaley.
It also “serves as a tremendous support group, a reminder to each of us there that we are not alone, that others share our values and priorities, and that we have each other’s backs,” said Sarah Raskin, Trinity College professor of psychology and neuroscience.
We march, and like our grandmothers and great-grandmothers before us, some of us will wear a unique uniform, but it won’t be white dresses with purple and gold sashes. We’ll wear pussy hats knit, sewn and crocheted by countless volunteers across the country whose goal is to complete 1.17 million hats by Jan. 21.
Mine’s being made by a nice woman named Laura. Thank, you, Laura!
(Don’t like that word, “pussy?” Take it up with the president-elect.)
We march because some of us are old enough to remember the bad old days, before Roe v. Wade, and every last one of us know what it’s like to live in a world where women don’t earn as much as men do while working the same job.
We march because despite its flaws, Obamacare gave us, for the first time ever, insurance coverage. It insured our young adults. It made sure our well-woman visits were paid for. It paid for our birth control and helped make sure that every baby is a wanted baby.
We march, and we’re going to Washington in what we assume will be uncomfortable buses. Guess what we’ll be doing on the way down and back? That’s right. We’ll organize.
You should, if you are a fan of the incoming president, fear us. As Raskin said, We are not going away. We are only beginning to step off and out on Jan. 21.
— Susan Campbell teaches at the University of New Haven in Connecticut. She wrote this for the Hartford Courant. Readers may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org