I’m attending the Women’s March in St. Louis on Saturday. I’ve read a ton of criticism about calling it the “Women’s March” (from liberal journalists and Twitter trolls) and I’ve also heard from close friends about why the men in their lives may not attend due to its name.
Reminder that the Women’s March is meant to highlight a few key areas, some (not all) of which women face in disproportionate numbers.
Do you care about any of the following issues on behalf of yourself OR for the women in your lives, all of which are highlighted on the official Women’s March website (https://www.womensmarch.com/principles/)?
-Reproductive rights (Birth control, abortion access, etc.)
-Worker’s Rights (Equal Pay, Affordable Childcare, Maternity Leave, Sick Days, etc.)
Whatever your political views, this march is an opportunity to support women’s rights and to show the President-elect that you demand an administration that supports women’s rights.
There are absolutely more marginalized populations than women as a whole, but it is valuable to highlight and publicize the fact that many women silently endure daily abuse due to their gender and navigate the world differently than men in order to zigzag around various threats and challenges.
The things I’ve faced because of my gender (and in one case, sexuality) have been very small hiccups in the greater scheme of things, but in the interest of sharing my experiences, here are a few lowlights:
- While working at a retail store on M Street in Georgetown, a man came in to try on shoes. It was summer and I was wearing flip flops. I was alone in the store. As I was standing in front of him, he proceeded to compliment me on my feet and then grabbed them without my consent. I was scared for my safety, so I backed away and continued to be polite to him until he voluntarily left the store.
- While riding the Metro to an internship, a man standing in front of me was staring at me very intensely and wriggling around. I didn’t understand what was happening until I saw ejaculate falling out of his shorts. Yes, he had masturbated in front of me on a public train. He got off at the next stop and nothing ever happened to him.
- At the start of my career, a powerful man in my industry invited me to a concert and I accepted. On the way home, he put his hand on my thigh. I didn’t want that, but I felt too scared to say anything so I avoided his hands until I got home. I spent the rest of my time at that company avoiding one-on-one time with him. I was able to confide in a male coworker who helped me avoid any situations in the future.
- This has happened more times than I can count and in cities from DC to London to St. Louis. Men, never women, have stopped me on the street to ask what race I am.
- On the same note as above, strangers on the street have told me to smile and commented on my appearance, both compliments and critiques. My favorite is that I’m bow-legged.
- In a business meeting, a man commented on my appearance and joked that I was there to look pretty.
- More of an LGTBQ thing, family members have referred to my girlfriend as “my friend” and her family has done the same with me. Perhaps this seems harmless, but there is power and pride in words. I can hear the pride in the voices of married couples, especially newly married ones, when they refer to their “wife” or “husband,” and I enjoy the same pride when I hear and say “girlfriend”.
My experiences are trivial in the larger scheme of women and the world, but I share them as a reminder that the women around you have been through the shit and they go through the shit every day, often silently, because this is their norm. This march is an opportunity for EVERYONE who believes this is wrong to show up and stand up.
In my college days, I was so touched by my friends from Georgetown who went with me to Pride events when I was too shy or scared to go alone. Think of how the women in your life might be impacted by your decision to support them and their rights at this march.