I Love Women

What the National and International Women’s Marches mean to me.

My whole life, I have looked to women for inspiration for everything I do. I love women.

As a child, when I needed comfort, I turned to my sister, my mom or my best friend. As a young woman, it was my sister, my mother, my girlfriends or my female college professors and employers. As a young mother, it was other young moms. Now, I look to my two strong and beautiful daughters.

Malala Yousafzai is a global activist for women’s rights who has risked her life for the right to education for girls in Pakistan.

Women are powerful and beautiful and we are one another’s biggest cheerleaders. I have laughed the hardest and cried the most with the women in my life. I love them. I love them all. Embracing and loving each other, recognizing and pointing out all the beauty when we can’t see it in ourselves, providing brutal honesty when nobody else will, encouraging the power of our voices and nurturing each other to our most vulnerable moments are gifts I’m not sure I could live without.

This is what the Women’s Marches are about for me. Not about Donald Trump or men-bashing or slinging hate at the Republican Party. The Women’s Marches are opportunities to directly connect with thousands of other women and to indirectly reach out to millions of others by bringing more global awareness to the plights of women all over this planet. They are about unity, solidarity and humanity. They are about true equality, no matter how trivial some may think the “women’s issues” in this country are. We know we are lucky to live where we live and to have the freedoms we have, but that does not mean we can’t make things better. And the Women’s Marches are not about taking the spotlight off of women in other cultures who are suffering terrible atrocities at the hands of men, but about bringing more exposure to those who have it worse. What a dishonor it would be to all the women who came before us and who sacrificed so much for our freedoms — some of whom lost their lives in the process — to just sit back and do nothing.

Evita Peron was the first lady of Argentina from 1946–1952, when she died at age 32 of cancer. She was an activist for Argentine women’s suffrage and feminism, among other things.

We have grown so accustomed to the subtle and often not so subtle ways in which misogyny is presented that we don’t even see it. We are routinely shamed and bullied into just “letting it go” and are led to believe our reactions are “hysterical” and “oversensitive.” Denying the existence of inequality and misogyny in this country is unproductive because it is a very real issue for millions of women.

Rosa Parks ~ American hero and civil rights activist, arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat in the colored section to a white passenger, and whom the U.S. Congress designated “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement.”

There was a time we did not have the right to vote, a time we were not allowed to own property, and a time when we were actually considered the property of our fathers and then our husbands. There was a time we were not allowed to speak in church and there are many religions that still do not allow women to hold positions of power. Within my own lifetime, there were moments I thought physical and emotional abuse were normal and I tolerated and excused those things.

Sister Lucy Kurien (second from the right) is my personal hero and has saved the lives of thousands of women and children from the streets of India.

The Women’s Marches are not about irrational entitlement issues or undeserved handouts, but simply about equality, independence and mutual respect. The Women’s Marches are about sisterhood.

Someone who was unsupportive of the Women’s Marches posed the question to me on social media: “Who is the common enemy?”

The common enemy is the continued support of white women making three-quarters of what men make for the same job (women of color receive less!). The common enemy is the belief that women are not in charge of their own bodies. The common enemy is the eyes that turn the other way in the prevalence of rape culture. The common enemy is the idea that a woman’s voice or opinion is not as powerful as her male counterpart’s. The common enemy is that there are still cultures on this planet where there is human trafficking and female genital mutilation and the ownership of women is legal. The common enemy is the fact that we still live in a patriarchal society. (The list goes on and on and on and I would love to hear your additions in the comments section of this post.)

Michelle Obama is one of the most inspiring first ladies in American history who gave us a graceful demonstration balancing the roles of wife, mother and career woman.

The Women’s Marches are much bigger than our president and are about so much more than the recent election. However, the current administration is a collective participant in all of the issues listed above and as the support system for the leader of the free world, it is their job to set an example for everyone in this country. For anyone to suggest that we, as women, should “lighten up” and “go about our business” and “keep our mouths shut” about these issues simply because millions of American women voted for Donald Trump is the very definition of repression. It is also blind denial of basic human and civil rights. And to make the suggestion that misogyny does not exist in this country is equivalent to a room full of rich white men insisting racism does not exist because they cannot see it within that room. We are not marching in opposition of women who voted for Donald Trump. We are marching on behalf of all women, regardless of race, caste, creed, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity and whether or not they are disabled. I stand and march in support of myself. And I stand and march in support of any and every other woman who wants or needs it, including all the women who voted for Trump or otherwise. We are all in this together.

Some have complained that, during the Women’s Strike on International Women’s Day, there were women who could not afford to miss work and/or could not afford to do without childcare when schools were closing down for the day in observation of the strike. We are fighting for universal support from everyone, but part of the idea of the strike is about women supporting other women. My kids are older now, but there was a time when I was raising them by myself and I had little to no help from their dad. Sometimes things happen that are beyond our control, and when those things happened to me, I relied on other moms. I have been a working single mom for many years and there were times I had to take sick or personal days because one of my kids needed me. I was lucky to have those options available to me. The marches are not about shaming the women who need help or who feel they have to go to work. Those women deserve our support as much as any other woman. The fact that so many women are supportive of this movement and are willing to deal with the inconveniences that go along with it are indicators that drastic changes are necessary.

Katharine Hepburn ~ iconic actress living independently and on her own terms, long before it was “acceptable” or popular.

I would be honored to join the class of women like Rosa Parks, Malala Yousafzai, Susan B. Anthony, Evita Peron, Sister Lucy Kurien, Simone de Beauvoir and Michelle Obama, just to name a handful of the millions I could list here. I don’t know what I would do without the many inspiring, nurturing, funny, loving, powerful, capable and truly beautiful women in my life. And I will always support them the way they have always supported me.

Originally published at www.middlecinnamonroll.com on March 11, 2017.

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