Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Something I Need to Say

I have been reading a number of blogs recently, written by women explaining why they did not participate in the Women's Marches held January 21. As you know, I was happy and proud to be part of the Portland March, but that was my decision and not one I would require of anyone else, nor do I care who did or did not march. But I was curious to know what these women had to say about it, and why so many seemed so angry and offended by this peaceful demonstration of our rights to assembly and free speech.

Almost without exception, these bloggers said they did not march because they didn't have to. They have all the rights they need. Their lives are full and fine and equally compensated, and without bias or any whiff of gender inequality. Their writing is notably filled with the words "me," "I", "mine," "myself." Very fortunate people, these ladies. I'm sure they didn't mean to communicate an "I've got mine, screw the rest of you..." message, but, well, there it was.

As for all those rights we women have. Yes, things have changed for many of us, in good ways. As a feminist of the '70s, I saw a lot of change. And it wasn't all about giving women jobs, as one writer characterized the movement. It was about laws protecting women from domestic abuse, equal pay for equal work, reproductive rights, financial freedom and many other things. Many of those things are being threatened. Some, or all the progress made then can be taken back. And there is still work to be done—especially for those who are not white, young, healthy, able-bodied and privileged. If you chose not to march because you have all the rights you need, some of us marched because we fear their loss. And, can we acknowledge that even today, not all women have these rights? Dismissing the struggle of minority populations and immigrants and disabled people and public education and those fearing the loss of the insurance that is keeping them whole and alive because you are just fine, is stunningly self-centered and callous. Are we not all in this together? Does the Golden Rule no longer apply?

You don't need to march. But maybe we all need to consider our words, examine our hearts and open our eyes to each other in empathy and openness. I am getting old and I've seen a lot of change, good and bad. There was a time when I was young that I thought there was a straight line of forward movement—first we deal with race, through the Civil Rights movement, then Women's Rights, then... And, of course, its more of a meandering, backward/forward thing, but I'm still hopeful that we move more foreward than backward in the long run. A lot of marching has been a part of it. I learn something new every day and my awareness of what I don't know constantly alarms and surprises me. The fragility of our way of life is shocking. Vigilance seems an obligation.

And one final silly thing, anti-marchers—get over the hats. Geez, the outrage! No, they are not—as you persist on insisting—"vagina" hats. They are hats with cat (pussy) ears. A play on Trump's nasty word, a bit of a jokey way to throw it back at him. I didn't make or wear one, but I got the joke and I loved the pink glow that sea of hats added to all the crowd photos of the marches! Maybe I should make one...

My plan is to get back to blogging about art and life, but life has changed. The photo at the top has nothing to do with anything, but I took it on my walk yesterday and loved the graphic forms of the branches and crows. See—I'm not completely distracted by the political chaos out there! We are living in challenging, extraordinary times. This blog is my journal of all of it.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
-Martin Luther King, Jr.


Here are a couple of the blogs I am referring to that have been widely shared. Are you as dismayed as I am?

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