HERE ARE A FEW REASONS WHY IT CONCERNS YOU ON A PERSONAL LEVEL!
It’s no secret by now that amidst the plethora of recent news, it was Saturday’s women’s march that was the most notable, if only by its sheer size. The march now holds a place in American history as the largest peaceful public protest ever. That’s right, ever. Perhaps shockingly, not even the infamous Viet Nam war protests garnered as many participants.
This is of no small significance – and quite telling of the situation we find ourselves in, as a nation and by extension as a global community.
And yet, it seems that many are baffled as to why four million people, from Washington DC to Alaska, found it relevant to come out to the march and protest the day after the confirmation of the new President.
It seems the question of – why women – is also foremost on many people’s (especially many men’s) minds. Some people are annoyed by this. Others are baffled as to why, in a country where by all accounts women enjoy a level of equality that’s among the highest on the globe, they should find it necessary to come out in droves to protest. Isn’t that hypocritical, they ask, or at the very least strange? Are they just spoiled by how good they have it? Have they lost their minds?
In attempting to answer these questions, let us begin from the beginning.
One of the reasons that I found it important to address these questions, a reason that is behind the march itself, is a certain aspect of reality that tends to remain hidden in this country’s everyday life, but which nonetheless remains real, actual and largely disregarded. This aspect is the inherent “otherness” that we take as a given, an aspect that characterizes our existence as “I versus…”, a separation between the self and the other that we have come to accept as an unquestioned part of being. And, no, this is not only women’s reality, it is all of ours.
On a slightly less existential scale, it’s the otherness we attribute to folks in accordance with their skin color, religious affiliation, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, and so on. From early childhood, we derive our ideas about the world from the social cues we’re exposed to. These social cues more often than not are in place not because they were proven, scientifically or otherwise, to be valid but simply because…that’s the way it’s always been, or at least for as long as we can remember. That’s what we’re used to, as a society, so why bother changing anything? Being gay is wrong, loving sex is wrong, having a voice is wrong, after all, it goes against the religious books, which say also that women must subjugate themselves to and follow along with men. If you contradict these tenets, well, then you’re automatically a problem for the society in which they govern. If you contradict them and also happen to be some type of minority, or a female, then you’re not only a problem but also a threat to the established order of things. So there’s that.
What’s your major complaint, anyhow, don’t you ‘ladies’ have it pretty good in America?
I mean, sure. Better than fifty years ago, no doubt. We can now do incredible things! Things that men were able to do, like, always. Say, vote – for the government under which we too live. Or, say, attend university so that we too might be educated, something that used to scare the living crap out men or they wouldn’t have prevented us from doing so until the mid- 20th century. Or, you know, work at jobs for which we are qualified, as opposed to be blocked from them simply by virtue of having a vagina. We even had one vagina-owner run for president recently! Truly we women are privileged here in America.
But, you know, it’s…2017 now. And one nice thing about the Information Age is that anyone, anyone at all, can look up virtually any fact that interests him or her. Not only look it up, but compare at least a dozen sources of information on the matter, assess them for their apparent validity, and draw one’s very own conclusions! This is a heck of a privilege indeed and you have it too. Were you to exercise this privilege, you’d certainly have discovered for yourself that white men still to this day and all over the world enjoy a level of opportunity that, all things being equal, simply isn’t afforded to minorities or to women. If you have failed to exercise this privilege and analyze this available information, well, then I hate to tell you but you are part of the problem and part of the reason for which this protest was carried out.
What’s so important about access to information now more than ever?
Let us think back to a time we can all easily recall.
About a decade ago most of us didn’t have smartphones, essentially tiny super fast pocket-sized computers with full high-speed internet access. The concept of “social media promotion” did not exist. If you wanted to tell the world something, or connect with like-minded folks on a truly large scale, you were pretty much on your own.
Within the past five years alone, humanity has exchanged and transmitted to one another more information than it had previously in all of human history! Let that sink in for a second.
Every lie that comes out of the new president’s mouth is something we can easily fact-check in virtually no time and without breaking a sweat (as, incidentally, was possible during the previous president’s administration, only we were all to compacent then to care). And, the fact-checking has shown that our current leader’s rate of veracity isn’t very impressive, mildly speaking. So far, he has been proven to utter blatant falsehoods approximately 70% of the time. Exercising the right to free access of information is one of the tremendous privileges of living in a democratic society, and if you do, then you are likely to have a lot less simplistic a view of the current reality and are likely to post far more probing questions.
“It was access to information that is largely responsible for having brought together such a great number of people all across the world last Saturday.”
Information is power.
“People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people“
– V for Vendetta.
It was access to information that is largely responsible for having brought together such a great number of people all across the world last Saturday. Information, too, allows us to be aware of many different people’s problems, problems that used to be considered “private” and “personal.” Four million people have come together precisely because they had collectively determined that these problems are shared by all of us. Each of us thought it was just he or she, and it turned out there are millions of us! Information exchange is what made this possible. Which, unsurprisingly, is why regimes that seek to extend their authority indefinitely and unfairly always try (and often succeed) in shutting down access to information. But even in the harshest of such environments there were always loopholes to be found. Those who wished to inform themselves have always found ways to do so. Without exception. And so it falls upon you, dear reader, to inform yourself, to seek out the truth in as many different resources as you can. Only this can change reality.
The events that took place last Saturday, all the pictures you see in newspapers all over the world, all those people, all those posters, all this really happened. And all of it represents a reality of which a minimum of four million people are cognizant. The slogans and posters I saw really touched me: I wasn’t even aware just how many folks shared my views and were looking for answers to the same questions. The papers estimated that the Los Angeles protest would amass around 100,000 people. It was 750,000 people strong. For me personally this was a wake-up call. I understood that we are ready.
Even if this protest march remains just a historically significant memory for most participants, real changes have already occurred. Various organizations have gained strength and momentum as a result. New partnerships and connections have been made, which will grow into various new projects and efforts, ideas and movements. Change won’t happen, as they say, overnight. But many seeds for it have been planted with last Saturday’s events. The sheer power of our numbers has been demonstrated. We know how many we are now and there’s tremendous power in knowing that. Where we go from here is now up to us. Technology has caught up to our needs and, in many aspects, surpassed them. We can now easily find one another and come together to move forward united.
The ability to exchange information is still largely available across much of the globe (we’ll ignore China and Russia for a minute as well as the finer nuances of general state-sanctioned propaganda and agree that there are ways still available ways for the most part to inform oneself) and therefore the problems we face have come to the fore and become that much clearer for all to see and discuss. It’s become easier to form groups and organize and talk about that which aches us. And women, if nothing else, do have a tendency to talk about that which aches them. Generally speaking, all human beings who feel any sort of iniquity directed at them do tend to talk about it with others in their situation (remember the old adage ‘misery loves company’?). Which, ironically, brings us to Trump. He might have been exactly what this country needed, in a perverse way. We now have in power someone with an obviously narrow and limited set of views, an individual who like countless dictators before him seeks to divide and conquer, to break up the nation he will be governing into factions that despise one another and consider themselves in opposition, so as to better be able to assert control and quell opposition. And thanks to this, he has roused millions of us from our previously complacent slumber. Suddenly we, an infamously apolitical populace, have all been mobilized into some form of action.
Yeah, okay, but why women? And what’s all this about the future being female?
Women know how to unite into sisterhood to understand, support and help one another. It’s a skill we’ve developed (partly by necessity) through countless centuries of practice. We were told, despite every evidence to the contrary, that we were not complete human beings by the religions of the world. We were told, despite much evidence to the contrary, that we were mentally weaker and less capable than men. We were burned at the stake. We were sacrificed literally and figuratively. We were belittled, beaten, owned, precluded from participation in institutions that determine our own fate, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And so we learned the hard way how to band together and how to talk about what plagues us. Not to mention that, as those who birth and, historically, raise children and manage families, we are wired to be psychologically attuned and to be able to discuss things. We are innate diplomats and unifiers. Generally speaking, we are innately kind and nurturing. There is no greater power than all this, there is no greater power than love. And this has always been the great source of our strength, not our weakness as many centuries of patriarchal brainwashing would have you believe. And this Saturday was a powerful demonstration of all that.
This march starts the era of personal responsibility.
Given the availability of information, we each now have the option of finding it, studying it, drawing our own conclusions and joining whatever cause we see fit. Or to just stand there on the sidelines like a stick in the mud. Either way, it will be your choice, based on what you choose to know. Not based on what you know, but, based on what you choose to know. It is precisely information that is the weapon of the future, that is humanity’s weapon against the lies and manipulations of the world’s self-serving governments and/or the powerful interests to which they are subject. Information and ensuing unity.
Even–and especially–if the current US government is one that espouses hatred and division, information is our greatest tool of resistance for these next four years, and always. Because if we give up the desire and accompanying effort to get to the bottom of things as they really are, we will all be led into the abyss swiftly, to the sound of phony applause.
Last Saturday was not only about posters calling for equal rights for various minorities, equal pay for women, the support of Planned Parenthood and healthcare for all Americans. It wasn’t only about expressing our collective revulsion to the way Trump speaks about and treats women and other people who aren’t him or just like him. It was a cry against any and every type of discrimination, because it is women who like no one else have always championed and protected those who are weak and mistreated. It was about raising the collective consciousness to stand up to every kind of lie and manipulation, and to show that we’re here and we’re awake. And it was led by women also because women are, in sheer numbers, simply more fed up with unfairness. We’re fed up with being told by the government what we can and cannot do with our ovaries. We’re fed up with being treated unfairly. Women who aren’t minorities are treated unfairly, so are women who are minorities, women who are lesbians, bisexual, black, hispanic, asian, immigrants, CEOs, politicians. That’s why not 100,000 of us came out to make our (and your!) voices heard, as predicted, but whole millions! We represent everyone.
And we have made it clear that you can’t photoshop us out of existence, you can’t forget to count our vote, we’re here and we’re not planning on going anywhere. We’re tired of the corrupt governments who fancy that they are dividing the globe amongst themselves. We’re fed up with our bodies being used as props for right-wing causes. We’re disgusted by the hypocrisy of a government that doesn’t provide the basic modicum of childcare acceptable amongst developed nations telling us whether we can or cannot have an abortion if we see fit. We don’t understand why tampons, which we consider a basic necessity for reasons that should be obvious, are subject to a “luxury tax”. Or why Viagra is covered by insurance while birth control isn’t. Or why on earth a woman gets paid 30% less than a man for the very same job. Perhaps unsurprisingly, none of these questions are new. At Saturday’s demonstration, millennials were asking them as much as baby boomers (who incidentally couldn’t believe that they were still having to ask them).
If you’re confused, look for the truth in available sources of information. They’re out there. And they’re plentiful.
This isn’t a moment in history. This is a movement, a march that has been quietly brewing for millenia. Just how much we change the world and how quickly we begin to see changes depends on us and our own desire to do something. Nobody else is responsible for our future. Not your government, not some organization, we ourselves. This is the power of this Saturday’s protest, which showed that we’re awake, we’re not indifferent, we’re strong and our strength does not require violence. This is how you fight the system.
Here’s what you can do from here on – https://www.womensmarch.com/100/
A law that should not be allowed to pass because it is against Your rights – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carl-pope/the-most-dangerous-bill-y_b_14067390.html
And here’s how free press will strike back – http://www.cjr.org/covering_trump/trump_white_house_press_corps.php
From now on, whenever you find yourself faced with a question to which you don’t know the answer, I strongly recommend that you…yeah…google it.
Do your research.
Believe me, knowledge is power. Don’t hesitate to spend more time on digging up the truth than you do on your nails or hair in the morning.
The women of the New World are warriors. Non-violent ones. Four million people and one upturned car, not one fight, not one arrest! By coming together, we have shown the world what the new power is going to look like.
The future is female.
All photos by Saida M.