Yesterday, along with hundreds of thousands of others, I attended the Women’s March on Washington, so I wanted to share my thoughts on this momentous event and explain why I attended.
Honestly, leading up to the election, I never entertained the idea that Donald Trump would become president. On election night, I experienced deep and profound sadness, fear, and anger, especially after it become clear that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by millions of votes. I dealt with these feelings by slowly going about my daily life, but still ignoring the possibility that Trump would become president on January 20. I didn’t attend the inauguration and actually started crying after seeing pictures of the event because Hillary should have been standing in his place.
Given this background, I felt a need to attend the march. I generally support the need and power of marches but actually dislike the process of marching itself. Protests always look super fun and cool in the pictures, but the experienced tends to be very different: the weather sucks, you spend lots of time doing nothing and on your feet, and have a general feeling that the action didn’t accomplish much. But I still love protests because of the power of presence.
At the march yesterday, the weather largely sucked, it was chilly, foggy and kind of damp/humid. I spent four hours spending shoulder to shoulder with a couple of friends but mostly strangers, couldn’t hear anything, and left without actually marching. So as my titled reflects: I did not march on Washington, I stood on Washington. And I stood because there were so many people standing on Washington that we did not have anywhere to go. The entire Mall, and surrounding streets were filled with men, women, and children standing shoulder to shoulder being present. We showed up for one another. We literally stood together demanding the right to be heard. We stood to protest a political agenda that projects hate, instills fear, and guts everything that our ancestors fought so hard for. The March stood for a dozen things: reproductive freedom, immigrant rights, LGBTQI issues, healthcare, indigenous rights, etc. Almost every person present would list a different “number one issue” if asked, but we all stood together. We wanted to be heard and respected. We wanted to remind Congress and the new administration that we still care deeply about these issues, and we will fight back when their policies threaten our lives.
Did they listen? I don’t know. Did the March “do” anything? I don’t know, but I learned awhile ago that presence is also a form of action. But I do know that I feel better today because we accomplished something together.