So I marched...
I wasn't particularly interested in marching until about 2 weeks prior to the event, when my sister-in-law said she wanted to check it out. I started to wonder if I should go too? I knew a lot of people who would be going to different Women's March events all over the country and started to get early onset FOMO, and I hate missing out.
I don't usually march or participate in protests, rallies or anything of the sort. I used to. For that reason, many people are surprised to find how apolitical I actually am these days. When I was younger, I was very involved - CSPAN was my ESPN. I worked for Environment California, I interned for my congressman in Washington, D.C. and I was a proud, proud elected officer of my YMCA Youth and Government program in high school. I was very interested in the political process and public policy.
My interest in my youth stemmed from my reverence for anything "anti." Wanting to be involved in the political process in high school isn't the norm. I liked it because it wasn't the norm. My family is also hard-core conservative, especially my dad. I had so espoused the left-wing viewpoint my dad often called my opinions "communist" and opined that the public school system was brainwashing us all, with his tax dollars to boot.
My interest in politics presented a perfect opportunity to disagree with and rebel against my parents. By showing an interest in politics but not espousing my parents' beliefs, I was acting out.
When I was in college and interning for my congressman, I burnt out on politics. I guess you could say I was disillusioned and felt somewhat deserted by the political process. So I began this steady and gradual decline in interest. And the older I got, the less "anti" it was to participate in anything political or organized anyway. So my personal form of protest became drifting into cynicism.
As a cynical adult, I am still liberal. I've always made sure I'm registered to vote, and I usually participate (even in local elections) and vote Democrat. But at some point, I clearly stopped paying attention. I became less and less informed, and less and less involved in the greater discourse.
When I first heard about the Women's March in D.C., I scoffed and rolled my eyes. It sounded a little "occupy nowhere" to me.
Before the Occupy Wall Street movement, I had little to no opinion regarding one's exercising his or her constitutional right to gather and protest. I found the entire Occupy Wall Street movement annoying, and not because I'm one of the 1%. I'm like on the bottom rung of a middle section in the 99%. My issue with the movement was simply its lack of legible purpose. If you're going to organize and try to harness the power of massive amounts of people, the majority of those people should be able to articulate why it is they've organized.
"It's not fair," is not slogan-worthy without a horrifying antecedent. What is it? What's not fair?
Had the occupiers simply had the same message across all of their signage, it would have been a lot easier to take the movement seriously. For example, if the occupiers had united in protest to call upon congress to expand a section of Truth in Lending Act (TILA) allowing it to dictate whether lenders grant a consumer loan (just an idea!). Or even less specific, if they'd all united to protest the gender wage gap... I could have gotten behind either of those issues because I could wrap my mind around them. And more importantly, I could comfortably brainstorm ways to achieve reform if the protest were to be successful and it was time for action.
When I first heard of the Women's March, I wasn't excited or impressed. I didn't understand the purpose of gathering, rallying, marching or protesting. I know many of us are very disappointed in the election results; but while we all know why we're disappointed, we don't know how to fix it. He's been elected, he's not stepping down and he's surrounding himself with his bidders. The only way we, his opponents in ideology, know how to defeat him is to deny him. And liberals, we know better! Denying something doesn't make it less real...
And so I thought I didn't want to participate in something without a clear, communicable purpose.
But the more I read about the Women's March, the more curious I became. The organizers seemed as though they were intentionally staying away from a particular topic. Albeit they could have created a fairly solid movement around something specific (like marching to ask the new president to keep Planned Parenthood's already limited federal funding), they opted not to. They chose instead to create a safe space for the many disappointed voters to come forth and represent his or her own grievances.
Gathering and supporting each other is a new and different way to protest for me. I was not open to that idea prior to venturing downtown LA last Saturday. During the march, I met many men, women and children who simply needed to get out and feel connected to other like-minded people. That's what I needed too. I just didn't know it until I was in it.
So to those who ask "what was being protested last Saturday?" I'd have to say, nothing and everything. I didn't protest anything, but I celebrated my patriotism by gathering and listening. I felt supported, and I hope everyone else around me did too.
As a parent, I do a feel a renewed sense of hope for my daughter after marching. Perhaps as she grows, citizens will just care more and gather more often in support of one another. I don't feel silly hoping for that at this point, and it is thanks to marching with Women's March LA.