This past Sunday, my daughter and I donned our thermal underwear, our pussy hats, (thanks Christy Hallas) and our warmest sweaters and headed downtown to the 2nd Annual Women’s March. We weren’t trekking to a big city like Manhattan or Washington D.C., we like to attend smaller marches, ones that are eight miles from our home.
In January of 2017, we filled our historic cobblestone streets with over 4,000 people, half the population of Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Just like last year, the crowd was energetic yet respectful, colorful, and nonviolent. We march because both my 12-year daughter and I feel reverently passionate about equality, social justice and compassion. We march because it is increasingly difficult to ignore, even for a day, the direction that our country is heading with policies that will affect our future in some of the gravest ways possible.
Once we get to the streets, it immediately warms this former Art Educator’s heart to see all of the creative signs and finely crafted hats. We’ve nicknamed them “vagina hats” because last year an ill-informed neighbor disparagingly referred to them in this way. They kind of look like knitted, larger-than-life vaginas, and so the name stuck, and we chuckle every time we say it.
For me, protest marches have always been emotional. The same kind of emotional that plugs my throat and makes me squeak out a few tears every time I show my driver’s license to a poll worker and cast my vote in an election. I am moved this year when I see boys of all ages supporting their female family members and proudly carrying signs like “Trust Women” and “Stop the Lies!” I am inspired when I see beautiful ladies who are pushing ¾ of a century in age, yet they carry their signs, they chant and they beam bright eyed along with the energy that is surrounding them. Our group of seven, which includes three Canadian residents and one husband who describes himself as a feminist, soak in all the élan as we make sure to thank the police officers on every corner.
Ironically, the march happens to be the same weekend as the latest government shutdown. And because I have a close relative who works for the federal government in a position that requires a security clearance, I learn that non-essential staff are automatically furloughed while essential staff get a bunch of extra responsibilities thrown on them and have to be on 24-hour call. Meaning, if any hell breaks loose during any of the marches, there are limited federal employees who are equipped to deal with crowd concerns, further putting our people at risk. Luckily, many, if not all of the marches occur without any significant drama, which makes me even more prideful of my marching sisters and their tribes all over America.
We march because there is comfort in knowing that there are likeminded folks who are frustrated and sad, but who are also hopeful. We march because our future will be dependent on thoroughly crafted and thoughtfully imagined solutions by a new generation of leaders, and because standing up and speaking proudly of one’s values is a tangible way to affect change.
We retreated to a local coffee shop after the march and in the warm glow by a crackling fireplace, with mugs of hot chocolate in our hands, my daughter says to me, “it’s amazing how many people think like we do Mom, it doesn’t feel that way when I watch the news. There should be more marches throughout the year, so we can keep our hope meters filled.” “You bet”, I say, and just like that my hope meter spills over.