Thoughts on the Women’s March on Washington

Thoughts on the Women's March on Washington

***UPDATE*** I’m not changing anything about the post just so that all of your comments make sense, but I just wanted to comment on all the comments! First of all, I want to thank all of you who commented. Putting these thoughts out there was a little scary knowing some of you wouldn’t agree. I could have kept it all to myself, could have said nothing. But I LOVE hearing what you all think and loved opening that up. While I still don’t plan to march, I feel as though you helped me understand why some of you are marching. I wanted to offer a platform to challenge people to define why they are marching and I hope that this has helped some people do that. I also wanted to offer an opposite than mainstream perspective. I think it’s always good to see things from different ways. I wanted to broaden my own mind, and thank you for helping me do that. You all helped me see the march as something more inspirational, that creates fellowship, gives people confidence, helps them not feel alone, and helps people feel like they have a voice. I didn’t see it that way before, but now I do. I looked at the march in a different way and still have issues with certain things about it, but I’m much more optimistic about it thanks to your stories. Thanks again for sharing! I’ll be getting back to normal content, but love a good healthy discussion every once in a while!***

Thank you for all of your responses to this post about my inner battle. This website will not become a political blog, and I won’t frequently be doing current event posts, but there are some things that I feel are underreported on and this is one of them.

I hesitated to write this post as I’ve seen a lot of the feelings and comments and Facebook posts going around the Internet about it, and people are heated. I’m not heated. That’s not why I’m writing about it. But I do have some thoughts. I don’t think they are on the popular side, but I do think they are important to consider. And over the past few weeks I’ve talked and read about women who feel the same way as I do about the march.

Let me preface this post by saying, if you are marching in the Women’s March on Washington this Saturday, I don’t judge you, or think you are wrong — nothing like that. I think the simple fact that people care and want to do something is great. So don’t take this post as I look down on anyone marching or whatever — I don’t. Living in DC I know A TON of women who are marching (although to be honest, none of them have told me the specific reason/s they are marching). But a lot of my friends and colleagues are.

I, however, am not marching. And I’ll tell you why.

Besides the crowds, the safety, and the fact that this march is a huge soft target for an act of terrorism (sorry to be a downer, but it is so if you are going please be careful and be observant!) that’s not the reason I’m not going. While it’s a good one, I don’t like to live my life in fear, but there definitely are reasons for concern this Friday and Saturday if you live in DC as I do.

Also, I’m not a lawyer, I don’t work in politics or in the government (obviously!), so I’m not an expert on all of these issues or laws nor do I claim to be and I am not discussing particular subjects here. I don’t know all the laws and would want to research them at the federal and state level before getting involved in specific causes or demonstrations, but that’s just me. I like to be as informed as I can about what I’m talking about if I’m going to be publicly taking a stand on something. So honestly, I don’t take a very public stance on certain things because I know that I don’t know a lot about all the different aspects of them.

The overall reason that I’m not marching is because I find the concept of a march that doesn’t have one main specific cause, to not be a very effective tool for change. I think that a march with an unknown amount of causes and a non-specific mission statement sends a confusing message to the leaders of our government (and to anyone who is wondering what the march is about).

Personally, I would rather spend my time researching something I care about on the state and federal level, figuring out what specifically about the law or lack thereof that I don’t agree with or think needs to be changed, find other people who feel the same way (who are more educated on the topic than I), organize, talking to similar organizations and lawmakers, and see what change can be made from there.

The website for the Women’s March says that the main mission/vision for the march is:

We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families – recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.

The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us – immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault – and our communities are hurting and scared. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.

In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.

We support the advocacy and resistance movements that reflect our multiple and intersecting identities. We call on all defenders of human rights to join us. This march is the first step towards unifying our communities, grounded in new relationships, to create change from the grassroots level up. We will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society. We work peacefully while recognizing there is no true peace without justice and equity for all.

HEAR OUR VOICE.

Personally I find this mission extremely confusing and non-specific. Because there is not one specific cause/law/right that people are marching for. How can the federal government take any acceptable action in response to all of the reasons people are marching? They can’t, because everyone is marching for a different reason, a different cause. There’s even a hashtag for all the different reasons #whyimarch. So how will we be able to look back in history and say that the march was successful for all of the causes marched for? We won’t be able to, because we don’t really know all the causes people are marching for, and everyone has their own version of all of the different issues.

Because the organizers of the march didn’t decide on a clear mission that deals with a clear federal law that can be looked at, voted on, changed — in my mind the march isn’t about changing laws. For example, the civil rights movement and march was very specific. And it was something that could be and was voted on and changed. There was a movement, a march, and a change.

I also think some people don’t know or understand the difference between federal laws and state laws. They might be marching in DC (when DC isn’t even a state) for a cause that isn’t even a federal law but is voted on at the state level.

I say all of this, but I give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I know people are just trying to do something, and that’s OK, but I think it’s more important to be strategic and take action that targets something very specific. I think the organizers — which started as two different people throwing out the idea of a march or something on Facebook, then coming together to form one big march — didn’t have any clue it would get this big, and didn’t have a clear vision from the beginning, and then a bunch of people with a bunch of different ideas and issues they care about got involved and it all got muddy. And that, in my mind, is why it ended up this way and to me, is problematic.

Obviously the people marching here in DC and in each state that is also having a march, are upset about something — whether it’s that Hillary didn’t win and they don’t like Trump, or they are mad about the things Trump has said, or they are marching for one or several rights/laws/causes that are specific to what they care about — women’s rights, LGBTQIA rights, even immigration has been thrown in there.

It’s great to care and want to get involved in causes you care about. Hopefully what this march does is get more people (not only women but people of all races, LGBTQIA, etc.) involved in our government and organizations on all levels — community, state, and federal levels. That is where real change actually happens.

So while a huge march might get a lot of media attention, and might make people feel good about “doing something” I personally don’t feel like it’s doing what people might think it’s doing. It’s not really going to change anything because there’s nothing specific to change. What I do think it is doing is raising awareness to all types of issues that people are currently concerned about and it gets them out there for discussion. Which is great.

But for real change to happen for all these issues, whatever that change is, it needs to be well-researched (i.e. what are the laws specifically for that issue federally and in each state), then there needs to be a very clear mission statement that specifies exactly what people want changed, and take that to your state’s lawmakers. And heck, if you want to march for the cause, march! But be specific about what the march is about! Otherwise lawmakers can’t respond or take any specific action on what the issue is.

The one thing I do find to be true in the march’s mission statement is: This march is the first step towards unifying our communities, grounded in new relationships, to create change from the grassroots level up. I do think this is what the march will do. So maybe that is what the march should be about — the beginning of people getting involved in the issues they care about on a deeper level to actually create the change they seek. And that’s fine, but that’s not really what people are saying the march is about.

It just seems to me like the march was thrown together without strong leadership, without a strong specific mission, and a lot of time and money is being spent on it by people, when they could spend their time and money more effectively on the specific issues that they care about and want to see change happen on.

Going to a big march for whatever list of reasons you have and then not doing anything else beyond that after the march, well, I think we all know that that isn’t very effective or meaningful. And I bet that some if not a lot of the people who do march, won’t do anything afterward. Sorry to be negative, but I think it’s true. I hope not, and maybe it will surprise me, but most people don’t take action. If the 200,000+ people who do march this Saturday all go home afterward and take action in their communities or states, even federally, and start to organize things with specific reasons — that’s when they will actually start to change things.

If the march helps people unite on specific causes and work on change, I think that’s great. But the real work starts after the march. I hope people will do that about the issues they care about, but I think that it’s a lot of work that a lot of people aren’t going to take the time to do, and going to a march makes people feel good — like they did something. But if they don’t do anything afterward…what did they do? I just personally don’t think going to a march and then doing zero afterward for the issue you claim to be so moved to march for is doing anything at all.

And, the white elephant in the room, if it’s an anti-Trump march, why not just call it that?

I highly recommend reading this article as well.

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Please feel free to calmly voice your opinion in the comments, but know that all hateful comments will not be published or will be deleted. I’m fine with people respectfully disagreeing (and just saying you are being respectful, but then writing something mean will not work). This website is not a place for being mean or hateful — to me, to other commenters, or to anyone. 

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Photo via Unsplash by Jacob Creswick