The night before the inauguration, Brooklyn women had insomnia. Greetings on the street started with,
“I can’t believe this is really happening.”
“I can’t even say the word President and Trump together.”
“Who will investigate him now?”
Insomnia can be a sign of post-traumatic election disorder. I am certain I have the disorder. My symptoms include constantly checking my newsfeed. I don’t know whether I do it to remain vigilant of this administration’s alternative facts or because I’m looking for signs that this might all turn around. The vulgar viscera of Trumpism has seeped into my psyche causing physical symptoms as well. Thoughts about Trump’s attraction for his daughter, Trump pulling Ivana’s hair out, or the infamous “grab ‘em by the p-” phrase will suddenly come to mind ruining the bedroom mood. I once even had a vision of Melania chained to Jabba the Hut. It also doesn’t help that I watched a close friend publicly describe being assaulted by the president. I suspect husbands of other Brooklyn women are feeling neglected.
Nevertheless, I slept soundly the night before the inauguration. For me, Friday, January 20th was less the day of the inauguration, and more the first day of the Women’s March. I woke up, made 3 three lunches, walked my daughters to school and prepared for my pilgrimage to our capital. I did not watch the inauguration. In fact, I’ve never watched an inauguration. Inaugurals are boring. Why would I start now? Marches however, are exciting! The March was the first feeling of optimism I’d had in months. And I REALLY needed some optimism! I needed to march not just to channel my newsfeed addiction into a great protest sign or to create an alternative truth to this election. I needed to march, to bear witness to the fact that when women march great things happen!
When Women March, They Tell All Their Friends!
And I mean all their friends. It was 7 am on I-95. I had managed to fall asleep for a couple of hours when I awoke to hear a passenger say, “The whole highway is Rally buses!” As I looked out the window to see the ribbon of buses, the enormity set in. Perhaps it was just exhaustion, but I choked up, overcome with a sense that I was about to take part in something profound. Glancing down I caught a limo with protest signs pressed up against its windows, as it pulled out ahead of our bus. Exhaustion quickly gave way to anticipation.
When Women March, They Pee Fast.
I’ve never seen a longer line move faster! It was 8 am at the Chesapeake House rest stop in Maryland, and the line for the lady’s room was sea of pink caps spanning the entire width of the lobby. It is no exaggeration to say it was the longest bathroom line I’ve been on in my life. And yet, I’ve never witnessed women use the facilities with greater efficiency. We had 15 minutes to get back to our buses. Under any other circumstances I would have estimated that line at forty minutes easily. It may seem trivial, but I think it speaks volumes to the unity of purpose women felt on this pilgrimage. When women march against a demagogue, they pee with determination!
When Women March, Churches Open Their Doors.
Leaving hundreds of buses, we made our way down East Capitol St. from the stadium. Along the way we were welcomed into the Lutheran Church of the Reformation. Grateful for that invitation, again we peed fast, took only one carrot, and kindly left a donation.
When Women March, The World Marches with Them.
So intense was the energy around the March that people who couldn’t be with me, kept texting me for updates. My husband sent me this, “Thanks for getting up early to protect our convictions. Proud of you for being tough!” My mother gave me this gem. “Don’t let anyone cough on you. You really don’t need a cold on top of everything else.” So infectious was the energy that even people who didn’t share my political views reached out to wish me safe travels. I suspect they were torn.
Thus, I was primed to choke up again, when the residents around Lincoln Park came out to greet and thank us. But nothing prepared me for the emotional scene we encountered behind the Capitol. We approached hundreds of thousands of people amassed around the Capitol Reflecting Pool and beyond on the Mall. We futilely tried to inch toward the speakers and down Independence Avenue, but we met an impenetrable wall of women and convictions. We never actually marched, but we certainly stood our ground. I soon learned people around the country and the world were standing ground with us. Over 4.8 million people marched globally. 1 in 100 people marched in the US alone!
When Women March, They Make Great Signs.
When Women March, Their Children Make Great Signs.
When Women March, There Can be Both Diversity and Unity of Purpose.
Diversity of cause is the essence of womanhood as we tend to be the hands-on caregivers for people, pets, places and the planet. However, this was not the reason messaging at the March was diverse. Causes ran the gamut because there is just so much wrong with this regime. If only we had the luxury to focus on one issue! Signs had to cover it all: sexual assault, Trump’s conflicts of interest, respect for science, freedom of the press, education, racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, reproductive rights, the environment, presidential legitimacy and of course, Putin. This diversity led critics to question whether the Women’s March can be an effective movement without a singular goal. And David Brooks actually challenged the March to add to its platform! He felt the March was not a significant counter to Trumpism because it didn’t effectively address economic issues or reflect “biblical morality” by rallying around Planned Parenthood.
As the March receives more criticism over the coming weeks, remember Trump supporters didn’t second guess their successes and neither should we. To Brooks and other critics, the Women’s March has just begun. Income inequality, wages, job security, and progressive tax policy were always on the feminist agenda, along with reproductive rights which is in itself sound economic policy. Furthermore, there is nothing more biblically moral than asking men to keep their tiny hands to themselves. It’s not our fault Trump’s behavior is more graphic than a pink hat. Finally, there is a clear singular goal—the removal of Trump and the GOP from power in 2020. Fortunately for us, Trump embodies all these disparate issues in one horrific presidency! Sadly for Brooks, Trumpism now defines the GOP in a way no other president has since Reagan. Their obscenity will be a rhetorical asset for Democrats for a generation.
When Women March, They Keep Marching Together.
I can attest that varied causes did not dilute our unity of purpose that day. The March was one of those transformative events that people will proudly tell their grandchildren they’d attended. However, the March was more than a one day event that channeled my newsfeed addiction into a great protest sign. I know this because I witnessed what really happens when women march. As we boarded the buses to return home, political anxiety gave way to joy and a strange desire to march again, and again, and again! Each of us acknowledged that this must be the first of many marches. And if people feel good enough about our movement, with its diverse and moral platform, they’ll keep marching. And they just might march all the way to ballots in 2018 and 2020, when we’ll begin the work of undoing the immorality of Trumpism to move America forward again. Then and only then, will the women who marched be able sleep easy!
I’m ready for the next march. Are you?