The week before the Women’s March I was sharing dinner with several good friends, including the woman I would eventually go to the march with in St. Paul, Minnesota. As we ate, we talked, and when the subject turned to the march there was some trepidation voiced. Was it going to be positive? Was it going to be effective? What was it about? These were all questions that came up.
I rattled off a list of reasons that came to my head, but by the time I wrapped up I had this suspicion that I didn’t know enough about why we were gathering. I had been carrying and focusing on a certain level of angst, after all, given that since the election all I’d known and felt was alarm. Over the following days I focused on the positivity question and I became determined to make my participation positive.
On the morning of the march I shared a list of reasons on Facebook explaining why I was marching:
“Marching cause I know the opportunity, respect and encouragement I got when I was seen as a man and that those things are not extended to women in equal measure.”
That felt appropriate, because that has been a constant motivator behind me this past year as a feminist. So, with that in my heart I picked up a gentleman who would also be one of the 100,000 to show up in St. Paul (when event organizers were expecting at most 30,000).
A little more than a dozen of us arrived at a woman’s house in St. Paul about a mile a way from where the march would begin. There my friend from that fateful dinner talked about some self care she did by way of dancing. Soon, the son of that woman whose house it was left for the march earlier than needed. His mom let him leave without criticism. It was a small thing, but letting him go was supportive of what he needed to do. I think her respect of that illustrates one of the key points of the day: We’re all just trying to get through life as best we see fit, and it’s a lot easier when we just support each other.
After a group photo we headed on out to the march and got to read some of the home made signs heading in such as:
It turned out we ended up near the back. My group was standing around for just shy of an hour before we began to march toward the capitol. When we arrived and started to hear the speeches at the capitol I heard a woman proclaiming herself to be a proud Muslim, and the crowd responded with cheers. I heard a call to bless trans people, all immigrants, and those who were having trouble finding a job, all to applause. The event was in full throated ways showing itself to be positive and inclusive.
In addition the event was peaceful. To my knowledge only one person was arrested, and that was someone pepper spraying the marchers. We also were encouraged to support the police, should we see any other rabble rousers too. We stayed for a while in the wet, cold Minnesota weather (earning me a head cold today but I’m OK with that).
One member of my group said that she had somewhere to be, but she didn’t want to go. So we stayed, listening to speeches as a little girl next to us splashed around in the mud in her waterproof boots, getting the cuffs of her pants all kinds of dirty. She was just a kid being allowed to be a kid.
When we did leave I recalled an interaction with a friend I had once, where we’d keep on saying to each other, “We should do something soon,” and we kept putting it off until she demanded that we made a plan. With that experience in mind I turned to the woman next to me and asked what her next steps were going to be? Turned out she was part of groups who aimed to help interested girls be more involved in STEM. I told her about my plans to write this blog post and to continue to get to know my congressional district better.
As we gathered around our cars, the woman I originally had dinner with was happy about her participation in the march. It was just a start, because we have a lot to protect and advocate for. If we don’t keep at it there are forces out there who will erode our progress away.
I’d love to read about your next steps in the comments.