Why I Didn’t Join the Women’s March and Other Thoughts on the Presidential Inauguration
I realize that making my first blog post a political one could alienate many people from wanting to read further posts. While I do not wish to write something others might find offensive, the events of this weekend are important enough that I’m willing to take the risk.
First of all, let me say that I did not vote for Donald Trump. Nor did I vote for Hillary Clinton. Now that we’ve cleared that up, here are my thoughts on the Women’s March and the Presidential Inauguration:
Yesterday, hundreds of thousands of people flooded the streets of Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, Boston, and other cities around the country and world to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. I supported their right to be there, but I did not join them.
I have long considered myself a feminist in the sense that I support equal pay, equal opportunity, paid maternity leave, anti-discrimination measures, and the right of a woman to choose to work outside the home. But I am also pro-life and believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman. And I believe in the incomparable value of having a woman stay home to raise children.
Many women across the country share these same ideologies. Yet those women were not included as welcome recipients at the women’s marches occurring throughout the country. According to this NY Times article, those women were left with no doubt that joining the march would mean supporting one position and one platform. And that message was driven home twice, once when march organizers uninvited a pro-life group after calling the decision to include them “a mistake”, and again when pro-life supporters were deliberately drowned out by their pro-choice counterparts.
Another recent NY Times article titled “Ivanka Trump’s Dangerous Fake Feminism” called this wife, businesswoman, and mother of three “a kind of post-feminist huckster, selling us traditional femininity and support of male power wrapped up in a feminist bow.” And this is because she unselfishly decided to leave her job and move to Washington to support her husband and father, and where she will initially spend her time helping her children get acclimated to a new school.
This is why I did not march.
If feminism means not prioritizing your children to prove you’re just as good as a man, all while shouting “Hands off my Uterus!”, then no, I’m not a feminist. If feminism means supporting equal pay and equal opportunity, then yes, I am a feminist. But the feminists appear to be screaming that it’s all or nothing, which to me is just another brand of discrimination. In my mind, equality isn't necessarily sameness.
So instead of joining, I stayed home and watched Michael Moore look like a lunatic. I watched Elizabeth Warren wear her Planned Parenthood scarf and talk about how Republicans were Public Enemy #1. And I was glad I wasn’t there.
I did, however, go to the inauguration.
Whatever your political leanings, a presidential inauguration is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and I would have gone whether it was for the Nasty Woman or the Orange Manatee. And while I was there, I couldn’t help but appreciate the unbelievable democratic miracle of peaceful transitions of power. To watch Barack Obama voluntarily hand over power to Donald Trump, even though he knew that Trump would try to dismantle most of the policies he put in place, is nothing short of miraculous. And standing there, I couldn’t help but hope that Trump does a good job. I hope his efforts strengthen our country and make it better. Because it’s our country that’s at stake, and hoping that he fails is hoping against ourselves.
The inauguration and subsequent marches further highlight the division in our country right now. When Trump won, I was unbelievably disheartened by the extreme vitriol of the left towards the right. Many students and professors at my school had no problem pontificating on the plight of the poor backwards alt-right Republicans, wondering how they could still be so racist and sexist and uneducated. I watched people spend hours trying to understand the thought process of a group of people they knew nothing about, but whom they instantly considered inferior. For the first time in my life, I saw the country as a series of bubbles, each equally powerful in shaping the biases and opinions of the people who live within them. And Washington, D.C., is a powerful bubble.
I get it. I understand why people are so upset over a Trump win. He is a deplorable human being who was a master of marketing and manipulation and ran a campaign that capitalized on fear and espoused hate. For these reasons, I didn’t vote for him, even though his brand of bile was slightly more tolerable to me than Hillary’s. Even now, some of his policies and cabinet picks terrify me. But I also understand the people who did vote for him. They’re not racist or sexist. They’re just regular people who are worried about illegal immigration and national security and earning enough money to support their families. To them, Trump was the lesser evil. And for this, they’ve been put through the ringer by their neighbors wearing blue.
I too worry about the future of our country. I worry about a Trump presidency and what will happen with the issues addressed at the women’s marches yesterday. But when the fanfare dies down and the media goes home, then what? Who picks up the banner to help the homeless, the unemployed, the victims of terrorist attacks? A message was sent yesterday, but a message that said what? Trump's #notmypresident? Yet he is their President. He is my President, just as Barack Obama was my President, even though I voted for neither. If you don't like it, go ahead and march. Go ahead and demand more. It's your right and I support it.
But here's what I'm going to do. Instead of marching to an uncertain conclusion, I’m going to vote. I’m going to do my part in the political sphere. I’m going to support my fellow man and make the community around me better. I’m going to stand up for all kinds of feminism – the feminism that supports motherhood and femininity and strong family values. I don’t need to walk around bare-breasted, holding pictures of a uterus or vagina, to make my point. And I especially don’t need to join a march that claims to be for all women but only accepts those who think like them.
True tolerance means that there will be times when we agree to respectfully disagree. It means that we support each other's right to believe differently than we do, and that we all understand that we do not have the market cornered on a better way of life. It means we appreciate and embody William Penn’s vision for America as a “marketplace of ideas”, something that can’t exist if we keep calling the other side bigots and preventing them from coming to the table. This is our America, one that belongs to all of us, liberal and conservative alike. We are “…one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”