It is not easy to stand up against your constituents or your friends or colleagues or your community and take a tough stand for something you believe is right.
Because you always want to keep working and live to fight another battle and it might cost you your career. ~Caroline Kennedy
That march on Saturday surely stirred up a lot of folks. I’ve talked with several friends about it — some marched, some did not; some applauded, some did not. In response to those who found it ridiculous that women would wear pink hats or dress in vagina costumes, I’d like to share some thoughts. I did not participate in the march, and I applaud every man and woman and child who braved the elements and who traveled the miles to represent me.
When I think of marchers, I think of military people marching, and I am so grateful for those who have served. Maybe you have served in the military and find that your uniform was much more dignified than those pink hats or vagina costumes. You are right that your uniform was more dignified in appearance, but it might not have been any more respected. Women serving in the military haven’t always been applauded, nor has a woman in the military necessarily been treated with respect by those serving beside her or those back home.
When women served 30 or 40 years ago, there was such a stigma attached to a woman in the service — ask a few and maybe they’ll share their stories. Perhaps, it wasn’t to the extent of the gender inequality and oppression that foreign women feel serving even today, but it was not at all regarded as the honorable job so many of today’s generation has been fortunate to feel in the United States. Because of that, I understand the need of the women who marched on Saturday in pink hats and some in pink costumes to get the attention of a man or many men and women who think their vagina is something to play with and that they are not worthy of having a voice. Did it look a little ridiculous? Sure, it did. Did it get their voices heard? You betcha it did.
They were willing to put themselves in attire that would be ridiculed so they could stand and be heard as they spoke for many groups of people: women and men were marching for a woman’s right to choose what to do with her body, everyone’s right to healthcare that is affordable and inclusive for those who are at risk of losing what they finally had, for the rights of homeless men, women, and children, for veterans to not be forgotten, and even for a woman’s right to wear a uniform and receive equal pay for the job she does. I am grateful that they would take a stand and risk being the butt of a few jokes.
I’ve heard comments that we women in the United States have no idea what true oppression is, but many of us know enough, thank you. Those women in other countries who are being mistreated in ways many of us can’t imagine are a good reason for the Women’s March to have taken place. By their willingness to use their voices and crazy costumes today we are hopeful that our women never become oppressed the way women in other countries might already be. I applaud the marchers for that.
We come from many different points of view, you and I. Maybe you have never been threatened physically or abused emotionally, and you are shaking your head that women would spend days traveling to a march like The Women’s March. It’s for you that they marched — for you who haven’t experienced being told to shut up and be quiet, to stay home and let your man have the voice that matters. It is for the women who are able to wear a uniform proudly today that they marched. It is for the people who are in fear of losing the only healthcare they’ve had, for the women who have not had a safe home with the freedom to choose whether they’ll take a warm bath or watch tv, it’s for the veterans who are on the streets or without proper care and for the seniors who are afraid of being forgotten, and it’s for the children who are growing up feeling fearful and ashamed because of the way people look down at them that these women and men marched.
We are all approaching the threat of being silenced in the way we believe allows us to best be heard. Why make fun of the women who are marching for you, who marched because you and I and so many others have been marching or speaking for them for years, whether in the military or in the private sector. This was, I believe, their way of saying that our work has not been in vain, that they are not willing to sit back and let what we’ve fought for them be taken away by people who think they are nothing more than a vagina.
I think it has been easier for people who would never be caught dead in a pink vagina costume to make fun of those “looking silly” than to try to understand them and to appreciate their efforts. Maybe that is what I hope people will try to grasp. By our willingness to speak today, we lessen the chance that we or our children or our children’s children will be forced to live in silence tomorrow. No violence, no unkindness, just overwhelming love and respect for all who have marched before us.