Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A Woman's Place

I attended the Women's March on St. Louis on Saturday. I'm so glad that I went and I'm embarrassed that I actually considered not going for a while. I bought a t-shirt as a donation to the march in Washington, but I wasn't sure that I actually wanted to deal with the crowds and the port-a-potty situation and all of that.

(The port-a-potty situation was stoooopid, but the Hyatt turned its men's room into a women's room in the lobby and my kidneys and I thank them.)

I would have liked to bring my whole family, but Zuzu has swimming lessons Saturday mornings, and I didn't want to have her miss that. Even more importantly, I wasn't sure about negotiating the bathroom situation with a two-and-a-half year old. So I met up with friends at the metro station. We were in two different lines for tickets, and my friend Lisa picked the right line so she made it to the front when Erin and I still had at least thirty people in front of us. We got our four tickets and got on the train. Every seat was full and people were standing when we left the station, and at each stop there were more and more women (and men and kids) in pink pussyhats with signs.

I actually felt really bad for people by the time we'd hit a few more stops, because they'd cheer as the train approached, but when it slowed to a stop they could see that we were so sardined on there that there was no way anyone else could get on. At one point, the doors couldn't even open because so many bodies were crammed in there. It was pretty intense and I ended up basically doing a backbend over a stroller for the thirty-minute ride into downtown. (At the time this felt exciting and funny, but in retrospect it was a terrible idea because I was sore the next day and then ended up injuring my back as I twisted around and bent over to pick something up. It's not quite as bad as it was this past summer when I hurt it trying to get Coco into her stroller, but I ended up at the chiropractor yesterday and now I feel very middle aged.)

(It's especially insulting because I've been keeping my new year's resolution of doing yoga every day for 31 days AND I have a new ergonomic chair for my office and STILL I injure myself. In fact, last night I ended up lying on the floor icing my back with a frozen hunk of ham because our ice packs have mysteriously disappeared, which was disgusting and of great interest to Cooper, who couldn't stop sniffing me.)

Anyway, the march was powerful and uplifting. There were funny signs and serious signs and angry signs. My friend Megan hooked me up with one to carry and made a pretty awesome one herself.

(I will also say that I feel really conflicted about the Not My President signs... Because YES I completely agree. There's nothing that could have made me vote for a Trump/Pence ticket and he is not the president that I want to see in office. At the same time, he is my president, and that means it is his fucking job to make decisions that are in MY best interest and the best interests of the American public at large. I greatly fear that the choices made by this government will be motivated by an economic pursuit that benefits few at the expense of many and by a religious conviction that ignores the separation of church and state and also ignores scientific facts.)

The energy was fantastic, the crowds were peaceful, and the speakers were uplifting and inspiring. We met up with my friend Drea who is a sociology professor whose research basically includes attending protests of all sorts, and she managed to lead us up pretty close to the speakers. I felt lighter knowing that I was surrounded by people who feel passionately about the same issues that have stirred my heart and my logical mind this election cycle, but I also felt frustrated that the voice of the majority has been ignored in this election. It worries me so much that a man who lost the popular vote but won the electoral college doesn't see those numbers as a call to listen and carefully evaluate his decisions. I've also been frustrated by people who voted for Trump who are now calling for bipartisan cooperation and unity. I don't want to be an alarmist, but I am alarmed--at the cabinet choices, at the scaling back of universal health care, at the limitations on women's rights to reproductive care.

Drea knew some of the people in the photo below, who are from another local university. I thought the guy's sign was great, but also the fact that his message is relevant is heartbreaking.

After the march I was very, very tired. I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before, and as the adrenaline high subsided, I mostly just felt sad and scared. It seems SO EASY for hard fought rights to get stripped away. I also experienced a sense of frustration and futility because I imagined that many people believed (as I did) the confident projections that Hillary would win, and so they didn't bother to vote. I have no basis in fact (or "alternative fact," if you will) but I feel strongly that if we could have predicted the way things would shake out, we would have had far greater voter turnout and a completely different outcome. (Also maybe if Georgia wasn't illegally redistricting and restricting voting access for people of color...)

I also realized as I reflected on all of this, what a different place I'm in personally than I was in 2012. Four years ago, I would have felt (and voted) the same politically that I do now, but my political passion would still have been overwhelmed by my own grief and my new role actively parenting an infant (baby Zuzu!). The fact is that it was hard to give a shit about anything because I was turned inward on my own suffering and I was more obsessed with how much Zuzu was eating/sleeping/pooping than I was interested in what was happening politically.

I'm in a different place now. Part of my role as a parent is to shape this world to be the best place possible for my children to grow up. This means that I am REALLY worried, but I am trying to hold on to feeling empowered and proactive and energetic. I am not going to STFU. I am going to speak up and speak out. I am going to vote in every fucking local and state-level election. I am going to make the phone calls and send the letters and do everything I can to fight against misogyny and racism.

Love trumps hate, and if I'm confident about anything, it's that my place as a HUMAN is in that revolution.