I’ve been trying to write this godforsaken article for hours now. So much of my social media feed is cluttered with people demanding to know why women across this country felt the need to protest and, as someone who participated, I felt it was my duty to explain. To respond. To…ugh…get a dialogue going.
I started a bunch of sentences. About how we’re fighting for equal pay. For the right to paid maternity and paternity leave. For reasonable access to affordable healthcare. For the right not to have our genitalia grabbed by strangers. For equality for everyone. On and on and on.
There were so many reasons. But I was getting increasingly frustrated the more I tried to justify why I decided to exercise my American right to peacefully protest. And it took me awhile (clearly) but I think I finally figured out why I was having so much trouble.
I don’t care anymore. I don’t care if you don’t “get it.”
I spent the day surrounded by a sea of people who did. And they spilled out into the streets to make themselves heard. They wanted their government, who works for them, for all of us, to know how a huge chunk of us felt about the direction we were headed as a nation. And it was beautiful and life-affirming and gave me hope and made me realize that this nation is already great and there are huge swaths of us fighting to make it even better.
But most importantly, it made me realize that the burden of explaining why we did this didn’t have to fall on my shoulders. Because if the sight of hundreds of thousands of women, men and children all uniting for equal rights bothers you, maybe you need to examine why it bothers you. If the idea of a level playing field bothers you, then perhaps you should examine why it bothers you.
Because if you don’t get why women’s rights are human rights, I can’t make you understand. Nor can I make you feel how oppressive it is to hear a lifetime’s worth of negative comments about how you look, your weight, your wrinkles, your clothes, your makeup, your attitude, your competence, your drive, your passion, your sexuality.
If you see nothing wrong with blaming a rape victim for being raped rather than blaming the rapist, I can’t make you see how wrong and cruel that is.
If you don’t think it’s appalling that a country as wealthy and advanced as America has one of the worst maternal mortality rates in the world, I can’t make you be appalled.
If you don’t think it’s criminal that we pass laws that punish children for having poor parents, I can’t make you see how reprehensible that is.
If you can’t possibly fathom why a minority or a gay person or an immigrant or a young girl would be scared for their safety, I can’t make you try to imagine what it’s like to be them.
I can’t make you care about other people in this country. I can’t make you understand that just because you have it good and I have it good in this country doesn’t mean that everyone else does. These are all things you need to try to understand for yourself. Because clearly a huge portion of our population already understands these things.
We will not go backward in this great nation of ours that I personally happen to love. Not without a fight. If you understand nothing else, understand that. The 1950’s, the 1980’s, the 1800’s…whatever time period you thought America was great and are trying to get back to, was only great for a small minority.
But I, and millions of other Americans who marched Saturday, want it great for all.
And if you don’t understand that, that’s on you.
Brilliantly and powerfully written dearest Aprill!
You do not have to justify your actions and choices to anyone.
What an exceptional piece of writing; how I wish that I had your way with words.
I love your posts so much… I have laughed with you, cried alongside you, cheered your precious family on from across the Atlantic, I have rejoiced with you as your beautiful children have been born safe and well, empathised with you as you meet each parenting challenge with great humour and love, and now I stand shoulder to shoulder with you as we demand a safer future for our children, and our countries.
We have Brexit, which is an absolute catastrophe for the future of our nation and our children.
Yesterday women marched across the UK too, and I hope that by our peaceful, yet powerful presence, we will be understood.
Thank you for another inspiring post.
Best wishes to you and your precious family.
I agree with everything Sue said above and couldn’t have put it better myself. Thank you for this post, Aprill. It was perfect.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for this. The march I attended had the very same atmosphere you described, and it was incredibly energizing and positive for me, personally. Historic and momentous. And especially thank you for reminding me now meaningful the march was; I’ve been distracted this week by the women you refer to who have never gotten it before, don’t get it now, and probably never will get it. No more justifying or explaining. I’ll just enjoy the memory and continue to be energized into action.