The fact that I attended a Women’s March does not mean I glorify abortion.
There has been much said about the Women’s Marches that occurred around the world on Saturday, January 21st. Lots of good, lots of bad, all concurrent in a swirling mess of media. Whether you prefer alternative or real facts, it is important to realize the weight of your own beliefs in the context of whatever you read on your Facebook or Twitter feed.
To do that very thing, I chose to affirm my beliefs and participate in a (relatively) small Women’s March at Topeka, Kansas. Personally, I was inspired by the female speakers who came from very diverse backgrounds and spoke of very intersectional topics. I was lucky enough to hear about a range of concerns, from the sheer injustice toward indigenous peoples to the need for a compassionate understanding of one another not only as women but as human beings with a multiplicity of identities. I saw those very humans in a glob of a crowd, all holding up signs that reflected frustration as well as hope. I admit, when I got there, I kind of sniffled because it was such a unifying moment.
I choose to label myself as a feminist. I believe in equality for the genders in professional and personal spheres. I am reasonably pro-choice. Labeling myself as such is divisive, and I understand that. I have evaluated the science, and I have certain opinions about female health care and the conception of life.
The fact that I attended a Women’s March does not mean I glorify abortion. Merely a day later after I had my tearful, emotionally impactful moment with thousands of people, I was smacked in the face with rhetoric that singled out the matter of abortion as a nullifier for a march that was so more than that.
It is not disputed that the organizers of the Women’s March were pro-choice. I do not condone exclusionary practices, but I do want to remind others that there were still pro-life attendees at the March.
Catholic groups, such as Sisters of St. Joseph and the Sisters of Mercy, chose to attend the March in an act of unity, despite the difference in belief. More can be found on the matter here. Conversely, there were groups, such as the New Wave Feminists, who were dissociated from the event. Dialogue is important, and I’m willing to state that I am a feminist who believes in reproductive freedom but who believes that exclusion is not the right way to approach such conflicts of interest. The Women’s March was literally a physical expression of what I am trying to convey now. It was not a moot point; it was an expression of democracy.
Honestly, this March encompassed so much more issues than those covered by the mainstream media.
Firsthand, I listened to a disabled woman explains the importance of allies and independence, to members of the LGBTQIA+ community impress the importance of safe spaces, and to a proud black woman passionately speak about the reaches of political activity. I understand more about the struggles of the citizens I live beside than ever before. The marches that went on around the world went beyond American bipartisanship.
The millions of women who gathered were not all marching for Hillary Clinton, nor were they all leftists. They were all women and people who wanted to keep our society accountable.
We, as Americans, global citizens, as people, have a responsibility to voice our concerns. We cannot remain idle as we feel political encroachments. The Women’s March was one of many historical responses to the intrusions marginalized groups have felt from government and from greater society. At the very least, there should be consensus on that.
However, to claim that women or other marginalized groups are at the peak of equality in America is seemingly another debate. Personally, I will refer disbelievers to the wage gaps, the lack of female and minority persons in leadership positions, the looming inaccessibility to affordable and fair health care, the income inequity, and all of the other problems still here in this nation.
It has been argued that women in America have it better than women in other countries. As a whole, I do not deny that. But, I will reiterate the thoughts of many feminists before and with me now: just because you see women in the U.S. with equality doesn’t mean all women in the U.S. have equality. Just remember the words Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. shared with us during his time in the Birmingham Jail:
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
The Women’s March was for those in the United States and for those worldwide. It wasn’t even just for women. It was for all marginalized communities. It was a statement, one that no one can deny.