by Alfredo A. Weeks VI
Before the trip, I’d heard plenty of marches and causes that screamed feminism but when I looked at the women around me, it seemed as if they were not that thrilled about any of them
They mentioned how they felt they were outcasts. These women were bold, outspoken activist in their own right, and many of them felt like today’s feminist movement didn’t walk the walk.
The strange thing, was that most of these women who felt they were on the outside of the mainstream feminist movement were minorities. Putting my self in the line of fire for some sharp criticism, I asked why was this time different. Answers were swift. These women wanted a more inclusive platform for the feminist movement that wasn’t based on class, race, religion or income, but purely based on women leading the way in reshaping the direction the world is heading. They believe this march would do just that.
I marched to represent the men who love a woman’s strength, while showing other men that it is time to act and rally behind our mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers and daughters who feel as if their voices are not being heard.
The decision was made to attend the march within a matter of hours. Bags packed and snacks loaded, my wife and I hit the road with our seven month old in the back wondering why these strange people put her back in this God forsaken car seat. With a six hour drive ahead of us, we honestly didn’t know what to expect. With the energy of social justice raging through our veins, we were hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. Considering the political climate, we were prepared for anything.
Upon entering DC we could spot the buses and cars loaded with marchers ready to let the world know they will not go away quietly. Faces gleaming with enthusiasm and elderly pacing themselves with experience, women were there for business. Being from DC I honestly never have seen so many women at anytime shut the city down. This wasn’t a riot, or protest that was organized just to put another activity on your social media feed. This march represented those who felt voiceless, and to fight injustices wherever you find it.
With my daughter strapped to my chest and my wife safeguarding our paths through the crowds, armed with formula, toys, wipes and diapers we paused. We took a deep breath, embraced the moment and realized this was one of the few times in our lives where we felt so much love around this many people. From the vendors on the side of the roads, to the middle aged women ready to get their protest on, there was love in the air. It was the kind of love like when you haven’t seen your grandmother in a long time and all she wants to do is feed you, and make sure you leave with sandwiches. The baby presence parted crowds like you wouldn’t believe and my wife felt at home when she needed to nurse our daughter.
As a man, for a second I thought I was going to run into the “no men allowed” officer, but rather, I kept hearing words of encouragement and embrace because I attended. It was like when I would go with my wife for check ups when she was pregnant and nurses would praise me for coming, while thinking, hey I’m not the the one carrying this child in my stomach everyday. But you just go along with it, while your in the moment.
As much as we felt the love, we also realized there were large groups of protestors that really didn’t identify with particular issues regarding minorities and Muslims. When march organizer Linda Sarsour yelled out “As-Salamu-Alaikum, peace be unto you all my sisters and brothers” it was as if someone turned out the lights in certain groups of people. We looked around and realized as she started to speak and mention “If you want to know if you are are going the right way follow women of color sisters and brothers,” many people in the crowd started to hold back their cheers. The woman’s march gave a voice to a feminist movement that has always been present yet rarely ever appreciated, and it showed. As the speech continued, tears started rolling down my wife’s face. She held our daughter in her arms, and in that moment she looked at me and said “I have never felt so represented.”
Being there opened my eyes in understanding the power in numbers and never letting fear choose your life’s path. There were moments where bias’s got the better half of people but holistically we know the majority over shadowed that divide. Fear plays a strong role in the feminist movement from women to men. The fear to speak out and the fear to embrace and understand. Fear challenges our discomforts which leads to the oppression of other.
So why did I march? I marched so a woman won’t have to worry about going broke because of care products. I marched to let Muslim women know they are not alone when it comes to having the freedom to practice their religion. I marched so my little girl can know how much power she has and to never believe she is incapable. I marched to represent the men who love a woman’s strength, while showing other men that it is time to act and rally behind our mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers and daughters who feel as if their voices are not being heard.
I marched to support feminism.
I can only hope we all choose resistance over fear, to walk strong and march with the women of the world to force change.