I’m sitting here watching the Boston Women’s March online, one day after the inauguration of our new president. I was planning on going to the march, but as the numbers of people expected crept up past 90,000, I bailed – knowing me in large crowds, in a post-bombing Boston, with tweets advising you what to do if you get arrested – and stayed home, but am watching a live stream, and keeping up with the hashtag #boswomensmarch on Twitter. A bunch of my friends are there, and part of me really wants to be there (total FOMO), to be part of history today, but it’s not like I was super dying to go. I thought it would be an interesting thing to witness, and my friends were going, so I figured I’d tag along.
See, I’m new to this whole politics thing (what a time to get involved!). In the past few years now I’ve been taking a step back from my life and taking a hard look at what I actually believe and value, to determine if it’s mine or what someone else has told me. I’ve done a complete pivot on my political views, and have been having so many conversations with my politically-minded friends to figure out what I belong in my beliefs. See, my Dad was into politics (I remember he would watch the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour growing up), but he passed away when I was a young teen. My mom has had nothing to do with politics, and is very much of the don’t-rock-the-boat mindset; she’s also a very conservative Christian whose black and white opinions significantly influenced my beliefs. My dabbling in high school in human rights and equality she didn’t know how to handle, and in my twenties I wrestled with and eventually considered myself a Christian, and so aligned with the conservative right, taking everything I was told at face value. Because when you align with a religion, you have to believe what they tell you, even if it doesn’t feel right to you…right?
I’m coming around. I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine about how I’ve come to understand and value what Black Lives Matter mean. I’m recognizing what privilege is. I’m doing my research on the big issues. I’m listening to other voices and stories. I’m trying not to judge people different than me, people who I’ve been convinced are “going to hell” because they’re different. I’m also learning that I’m a person who matters in this world, rather than I’m someone who is absolutely nothing, a sinful person deserving of hell, without a saving God. I’ve always been a little bit of a feminist, and I’m learning now that it’s Ok to be one, even encouraged to be one, standing up for women and our stories and our plight and our fight, though I’m slowly coming to understand all the nuance that entails. I never liked being involved in a religion that discounts women’s voices and says you don’t matter unless you’re married with kids.
I’ve been super privileged to not have a lot of these issues touch me – I work at a place that is 95% women, run by a woman, I’ve never gotten whistled at or viewed as a sexual object (once back in high school, and I’m in my mid-thirties now), I haven’t had to navigate health care, I’ve never been pregnant, etc. The only real issue I’ve had is the bias against women in the church. But for our president to come out and degrade women publicly felt personal; for a friend of mine – a Trump supporter – to write a post about how making derogatory comments about women is Ok “up to a certain point” felt personal, like I wouldn’t be protected by him. To hear all the issues and the stories and the concerns coming out in these recent days is starting to feel more personal. To even be on social media watching coverage of the Women’s March and seeing men make comments about “whining women” and “What rights don’t they have?” is starting to personally infuriate me.
So yes, there is a lot of work to be done. And if this administration wants to turn the clocks back on thirty years of progress, then there really is a lot of work to be done.