It's been a wild week. The women's march was so big, so bold, so beautiful that the whole world stopped for a day to acknowledge the awesome power of the female. I went up to my local march in Astoria Oregon instead of going to Portland because I feel that the local marches need the numbers and energy more than the cities. I was right. 100,000 marched in Portland. 1,200 marched in Astoria (and that is huge for such a small town). I might have taken it on as my personal responsibility to make enough noise for another 1,000 people but hey- If you have a drum and voice, use them! it is always a high to be in a sea of energy like a global day of action. For many folks it was the first march or protest they had ever attended. For many others it was one more in a lifetime of activism for a better planet, equal rights, peace and visibility for women's issues.
The aftermath of the inauguration and the marches is in full swing. The right wing folks on face book are offended that women marched at all. That we aren't grateful to be living in country where we aren't forced to wear the burka. Also- how disgusting that women wore pussy hats and vagina costumes, no self respecting female talks about her own parts in public. It wasn't inclusive enough of republican women who voted for Trump or Pro life advocates. (who often wave around bloody fetus dolls in front of Planned Parenthood- but I guess to them that is less gross than pussy hats.)
The other and more salient arguments are that the march was too identified with white women and not with the larger female community (including trans women and indigenous women and WOC). This is an important reaction and one that I have been reading about with interest. The voices that are ignored in the mainstream were also sidelined in a mainstream march. It speaks to the lack of understanding among most Americans at how much suffering and rights abuses take place outside of middle class, straight, white America. At first, i will admit it, I felt like, "damn- can't women just be proud to march against hate for one day without getting slammed for not being all things to all people? Why are women always the ones who have to say we are sorry for everything we do." And then I realized that the deeper opportunity from this march is that these arguments are being made. On all sides. Because that is where we are. We are not in a self congratulatory world where our marches are going to make a difference. We are in times where our ability to listen and not react, to have empathy, to do the learning and reading to stretch our awareness is more critical than ever. It is also critical to be able to articulate our views in a way that makes change and not enemies. So I am trying to set aside my own anger at the man who was elected and instead reserve my strength for the love that is needed to unite this country. With love we can resist the divide and conquer strategies that the media and the politicians have perfected to keep us polarized and powerless.
From the right I hear women wanting the country they were promised somewhere along the line to manifest. To be able to have a man take care of them and to have defined gender roles that make the world safe and understandable. I hear fear of the unknown. I hear anger at the rejection of their definition of what womanhood means to them. I hear the need for safety and a lot of repeating of media rhetoric. I have scratched a few surfaces and found that most of these women communicate only in their own circles and are surprised to hear from a woman with a different way of viewing the world. My challenge is not to react to the rhetoric and to look for common ground. I am batting about 50/50 on this so far.
From the left I hear women angry that the oppression that they have been living under white culture is only recognized when white women get their rights infringed upon. Where were all the white women standing up for Black Lives Matter? Where were they for Indigenous Women for the last 500 years? The Democratic party and mainstream women's movements have failed to address any of the issues that face trans and queer women at the level of fervor it makes over heterosexual women's rights. Racism and classism and Homophobia absolutely exist within women's movements and a huge march just shines a spotlight on those injustices in action.
I also hear everyone declaring the beginning of a new and united resistance movement. I fancy myself a Star Wars resistance fighter (RIP Leia) so I think that sounds pretty cool. And I also admit it can make me feel exhausted again- because god damn it I just started a self care program and now I have a million more things to stress out about. Attacks on global healthcare for women and the Standing Rock reservation were the opening shots of what will be a long fight with big consequences. I cannot stand aside and watch. I make calls now everyday to congress and other folks like the gov. of North Dakota. I found that I can walk my dog on the beach and make these calls as part of my self care walking routine. Self care- Earth Care.
My point here is that self care can't be selfish. It's not about "we protect our rights and our time and money but once that's over we don't give a crap about yours." We are all in this together. Just like it's hard to describe oppression to people who do not experience it. We can't really understand empathy unless we have it for ourselves first. So everyone please take care of yourself. Do your yoga. Eat well. Drink water. Meditate on the big picture. Pray in whatever way you do for a better world. Commit to kindness for yourself and everyone else. Then get your light saber out and kick some ass in defense of all the things you love. I'll be right there beside you making enough noise to blow up the Death Star.