I Marched to Empower All

I marched.  I didn’t want to.  Didn’t want to stand in a crowd (or in a disappointing small gaggle) of “protesters.”  I didn’t want to chant slogans or wave signs. But I did.  Because Donald Trump had encouraged and stimulated the absolute worst habits of machismo and white supremacist masculinity, the worst disdain that the wealthy have for the poor, the ugliest greed that views our natural world as only raw material for churning out money (to the 1%).  Because he was the most obvious antithesis of Christian principles.

I marched because I am a 74 year-old woman and my heart was broken by the election of a hate-mongering demagogue to tear our society apart, into US and THEM. And as a woman familiar with how it hurts and degrades women to be seen as obedient house-puppies, sex bunnies and underlings (“Just grab them!”), I knew that women would always be THEM.  Unless we could resist.

I marched because although I grew up dirt-poor in rural Nebraska, I was privileged.  Privileged because I saw my grandmothers and my mother as equal partners in their marriages: the women grew and preserved and prepared all the food and clothing for the families: chickens, eggs, butter, gardens, orchard trees. They had strong arms and clear minds and great open hearts.  My maternal grandmother always fed the “hobos” who came from the nearby railroad tracks. This was the Good Life, and I will always fight for it.

I also began to learn about whole categories of people who shared the oppression and cruel contempt often dished out for women, and saw it for what it was–blind prejudice & the love of having power over other people.

My family women were generous, fearless, practical, physically strong.  I grew up with the privilege of knowing myself whole, so the idiocy of every careless damaging dirty attitude toward women as lesser, as ‘things,’ and as slaves to their reproductive organs insults me.
As a privileged woman, I resisted the message I got in the fifties–that I should be careful not to get higher grades than men, not to run around playing sports because it wasn’t feminine, the boys wouldn’t like me.  And surely a girl won’t try to go to college if she was poor and if she wasn’t looking for a husband. I did.  I graduated in 1965 from the University of Nebraska, PBK, summa cum laud, having won a National Merit Scholarship, been on the State Scholastic Team of the highest Regents’ Exam scores.  Every step of that education was a march of protest.  The stories I could tell about date rape & about predatory male professors & male supremacy ideology are enough to make any woman today march against the loss of the progress feminists have made in the last 50 years!  Donald Trump represents that loss to me, as do the many who lap up his dirty stories as delicious.
I marched because I felt the weight of every contemptuous dismissal I ever had to fight as a young woman.  I knew women are at least equal to men, that biological gender is not destiny.  I marched because Trump represented every rich man who ever was amused by my futile dreams of social justice and equality for all.

I marched because I have known and loved and admired African-American men and women, and watched their pain as their own children were harassed, endangered, imprisoned.  Racism is un-American; we are supposed to believe in equality.  I marched because Trump’s rhetoric about immigrant “rapists” is like the rhetoric of Nazi ideology about Jew and Gypsy, Communist and “Pervert,”  and all the ‘unfit’ or resistant.  My son’s father was Jewish; I witnessed anti-semitism firsthand when my son was harassed at a summer science camp because he “had killed Jesus.”  A Jewish temple was bombed nearby when my son was in middle school.  The fear and distrust he felt was injurious to him;  hateful prejudice costs more than our country can afford.

I marched because I have known and loved single women trying to raise and nurture children–women struggling to work for lower pay than men and trying to feed, clothe and shelter children when medical care and childcare took more than 50% of their monthly net pay.  Dentists?  Maybe a free clinic.  Niceties like books (library trips take time), like a movie outing as a family. like travel to visit grandparents?  Women pushed to the edge of their limits.

Opposition to a decent minimum wage, to equal wages, to affordable healthcare, to government budgets that provide affordable childcare and education?  Those things are, to me, the antithesis of a democratic community because they disregard poverty and admire and promote selfishness.  Opposition to voting rights, to equality,  to democracy, to the service of our great public agencies and institutions: Donald Trump’s election signals to me that the selfish and arrogant of this country are willing to throw away everything that we Americans could be proud of.

So I marched.  Because if you don’t share generously, you are not part of the community.  If you don’t love and care about all people and want to see peace and security and health for all. you are not part of a democracy.  You want to isolate yourself from the crowds of those unlike yourself.  You think perhaps that the wealthier you are, the better you are.  Health, including a healthy world to live in, education, economic equality and generous decency:  those are the goals for which I march.

Before Trump was elected many Republicans kept a principled distance, but once he was crowned the winner, it seemed to me opportunism and the love (and fear) of power overcame many legislators’ resistance.  I march in order to cry out to all those in power: “Heal this lesion in democracy, this threat to America the beautiful, the kind, the healthy.”