In response to the questions I have received about why I participated in the Women’s March last Saturday, first I want to say that the march I attended in Oklahoma City was peaceful, and it was beautiful. There was no violence. There was no hatred expressed. There were people from every kind of background represented. There was a sense of calm determination, but the tone was almost jovial. There was laughter and joy. I was blown away by the creativity of the signs and slogans, and sometimes laughed right out loud. It’s always good to have a sense of humor in the midst of such serious issues, and I found them a welcome relief to the pain that many women at the march have experienced.
I will write more in the future about my own personal experiences of discrimination, and my reasons for marching are many more than I have listed here, but here are some:
1. I marched to stand in solidarity with other women. The experiences of discrimination, abuse and oppression are common to us as a group, and I had a desire to stand together with others like myself and to make it known that we expect to be treated with equality and with respect.
2. Equal pay for equal work. Women still make less than men for doing the same job. Here is a link from the U.S. Department of Labor showing the current statistics. It is interesting to note that even in areas of the workforce where women are better represented, top level positions are still primarily held by men. It is also interesting that the wage gap is even larger for women of color.
It is interesting to note that this kind of pay discrepancy does not just exist in the “secular” workplace. I am aware of women who are on church staffs who receive a lower salary than their male counterparts, simply because the church considers their husband to the “primary breadwinner” for the family.
3. Equal representation. Women make up almost 51% of the population in America, and yet only 19.4% of our congress positions are held by women. This country was formed largely over a frustration regarding lack of representation. Decisions that impact us as women are being made by men. It only seems right that we be equally represented.
4. One of these decisions is regarding women’s healthcare. I believe that it is the right of every human being to receive quality healthcare. The needs of especially poor women are not being adequately considered by the men who are in the positions of power.
In my community at Joe’s Addiction, for example, women suffering from simple urinary tract infections cannot receive treatment. They go to the emergency room (as they have no other option), where they are given a prescription for an antibiotic that they cannot afford.
One of these women, suffering from repeated UTI’s (over a whole year), died from bladder cancer, because her multiple trips to the ER were seen as a nuisance by the medical personnel, and because she had no insurance no further testing to determine why the frequent urinary problems. She died.
Lack of birth control causes not “unwanted” babies, but babies that they cannot afford. To remove a healthcare plan that provides birth control, and to remove Planned Parenthood, would be catastrophic to poor communities. (Planned Parenthood provides many services for women besides abortion.)
Breast cancer screenings, mammograms, pap smears—all of these are unattainable for our women. Cancer is killing them disproportionately. I marched to make it known that those in government must consider the needs of the women.
5. I marched for the right to live without fear of sexual assault.
One out of every six women in America has been the victim of attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. (I am one of these women.)
I have a college-aged daughter who tells me that she and her friends cannot walk across campus at night without fearing they will be assaulted. The statistic for college-aged girls drops to almost 1 in 4 girls being raped.
My oldest daughter texted me recently to ask if I could come over to her house. She was alone and waiting for an appliance delivery. It was evening and growing dark. She said, “Mom, can you come over and just be here when he arrives, so I don’t get raped by the refrigerator man?” We both laughed, but we knew it was real. My husband went with me and he commented, “In my whole life, I have never had to think of such a thing. It is just completely outside my experience that I would feel nervous about a person delivering something to my house.”
This is the reality we women face every day, and it is simply not okay. The reason I marched is because our current president boasted about sexually assaulting women and called it “locker room banter.” I find it incomprehensible that people are more offended by a group of women wearing pink “pussy” hats than they were about our president boasting of grabbing women’s “pussies.”
In May of 2013, Donald Trump tweeted about sexual assaults on women in the military: “26,000 unreported sexual assaults in the military—only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together.” When questioned about this during his election campaign, he responded “It’s a correct tweet.”
Men and women are together every day. Apparently our president feels that rape is just what men do when they are with women.
Here is a link if you’d like to learn more about sexual assault in America: https://www.rainn.org/statistics
4. The right to simply be respected. Our president has called women “fat pigs” and “dogs.” He has publicly rated women on a scale of 1-10 by their looks. He commented that no one would vote for Carly Fiorina because of her face. He mocked Megan Kelly by saying that she had “blood coming out of her wherever.” He called a former Miss Universe “Miss Piggy” because she had gained some weight.
Donald Trump does not respect women, and I want my voice, raised with millions of other women’s voices, to let him know that this is unacceptable.
I have experienced discrimination and oppression as a woman on a daily basis my entire life. I will write more here about these experiences. I’m guessing that many men simply do not know or do not recognize our reality, and there are many more reasons I could list here. But the overarching reason that I marched in the Women’s March was because culture must change, and it must change from the top down. People follow their leader, and when our highest leader(s) at best ignore or disregard women, at worst abuse and oppress women, society follows. Water runs downhill. People seem to naturally sink to the lowest common denominator. Unless . . . we intentionally aim for the heights.