The Womyn United Will Never Be Defeated

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It was an incredible, en-heartening, and vibrant day. Also exhausting.

That first photo is the group of women from my carpool. All of us in hats are teachers at my school, and the young woman in her headband is one of the students.

Random Thoughts:
1. The celebrity folks were wonderful, and many of them were really experienced in keeping the energy going, but I wish there had been more time for some of the quieter voices. I got a teensy bit huffy that the rally had some men (albeit very articulate and inspiring men like Michael Moore and Van Jones) front-loaded into the early part of the rally, and then by the time the Indigenous woman got up to speak about water, everyone was already tired of listening.

2. I wish there had been more indigenous voices, more word from Standing Rock.

3. I have nothing against strong language at strong moments, but Madonna actually had some really good things to say about tyranny and freedom, but she dropped the F-bomb, and suddenly no one in the press could remember anything else she said.  Sigh.

4. It was a real pleasure to hear Climbing Poetree live. And Angela Davis. And Gloria Steinem. And Maxine Waters. And Ashley Judd. And Alicia Keys. And Madonna. Janelle Monae was also really great. “Say her name!”

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5. People were all friends yesterday. The invisible veils between strangers are broken down when you’re marching together. People start up conversations with each other as though they’ve known each other all their lives.

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6. The crowd was big. Really big. I had very few moments of claustrophobic anxiety, and no sense of panic. This was the tightest crowd I have ever been in. We shuffled ourselves into the streets for the rally, and then when it was time to move, we simply couldn’t go anywhere, we were so tightly packed. Amazing!
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7. The hats. Early in the day, before we got to the metro, a woman in another group that met at our rendezvous point asked one of us about the hats. My friend explained that they’re a response to the tape of Mr. Trump bragging about sexual assault, and that many people call them pussy hats. The woman began to weep. My friend made sure that the woman’s friends were taking care of her, and we went on to the march, but my hat suddenly took on a much more pointed meaning. It was no longer simply a symbol of defiance of a misogynist sexual predator in high office, but a statement of support for women who have survived sexual assault. It’s a message to predators that women’s silence will no longer protect them.

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8. I am tired (happy tired). Wiped out. Standing in one place for four hours may be as hard on the muscles as walking for four hours. It was helpful to keep stretching. Even that was difficult with all those people packed around us. (All those people!)

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9. Last Friday, a group of mostly young women led our chapel remembrance of Martin Luther King at school. Yesterday, I marched for the young women I teach, keeping in mind that group of young women of color in particular, women who are feeling the power of their voices rising within them, women with a passion for racial justice, women who will lead this movement into the future.

The future is in good hands. I’m with her and her and her and her. . .

On Intersectionality

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Today, I have been thinking about feminism and intersectionality. There’s lots of good–and some perhaps-not-so-good–commentary on the webs these days about the Women’s March coming up in a few weeks. While I don’t want to leap blindly onto any new bandwagon that comes along, I also want to lend my voice to a gathering movement for equal rights for all people, one that recognizes–hopefully–that the leadership roles and the power to shape the movement must be held by women of color. By all means include white women in the work of advancing feminism, but for too long we have allowed the veils of privilege to keep us ignorant of the full range of women’s experiences, and I think it is time and more than time for white women to take the listening role.  Here are some ways that white women can position ourselves within the movement.
1. Be listeners. Listen to the stories of women of color.
2. Believe. When we talk about abuse, we say that one of the things we need to do is to believe women when they speak their stories. This applies here, too: When women of color speak about the pain and anger and frustration, believe them, even (particularly) when it is about racism.
3. Avoid the day’s common default response of outrage and huffiness. When women of color have something to say about their experiences or about how they have been treated by white women, don’t get miffed. This prevents listening. Let’s just skip the defensive posture, open our ears, and reach out our hands. How else will we hear truth?
4. Put the power and energy of our inherent privilege to the use of the movement, and to our sisters of color. Offer our sisters whatever power and leverage we are able to create from our own privileged positions.
5. When I was a teenager, and my mother was trying to train me to be a more engaged participant in the life of our household, she pushed me to keep asking, “What can I do next?” That’s a good question for us, too. “What can I do?” Instead of, “I think you should. . .”
6. Be ready to keep learning.

I like Shishi Rose‘s take on the subject.

Gratitude List:
1. Layers. Layers of clothing on a cold day. Layers of ideas. Layers of caring and concern.
2. The bowl is big enough to hold us all.
3. The color pink. I am finding a new appreciation for pink. I am starting to wear more grandmotherly pinks and roses and beige. That’s okay. I need the gentleness of rose right now, and the ferocity of fuschia.
4. Arundathi Roy and Vandana Shiva. Look up quotations by them on GoodReads.
5. Baked oatmeal with blueberries for supper.

May we walk in Beauty!