A March In The Right Direction

The Women’s March was about more than abortion rights. It was about more than equal pay. It was about more than opposition to Trump. The Women’s March was about the empowerment and equality of women around the world.

I participated in the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. this past Saturday. After the march, I was in a store wearing a shirt from the event, and I received hateful language from some people. One woman in particular made me think about the mission of the march. She approached me and blurted, “Oh yeah, women’s rights in America, like we don’t already have them. We don’t have people mutilating our vaginas or excluding us from society. People here need to stop complaining. We are lucky to live in the United States as women.” I politely agreed, probably to her surprise, and simply said that I completely understood what she was saying and that I feel very grateful to live in the U.S.

I have often dealt with the feeling of guilt when thinking about how good I have it compared to women in other countries. But after thinking about that women’s comment, I realized something: just because others have it worse doesn’t mean that we stop working toward total equality where we are, and where it is actually a close reality. Other countries have so far to come in understanding and accepting women’s rights, but that doesn’t change that America still needs progress.

Saying that people are selfish for fighting for rights that women in other countries could only dream of having is ignorant. We as individuals, and as women, do not neglect underprivileged women in other countries. We understand, we listen, we watch, and we act on behalf of every woman. And we are not limited to supporting one single movement. Just because we fight for certain rights in America doesn’t mean that we aren’t also working for more equality in other countries as well. We are not limited to one purpose, to one mission. We can advance our purposes here while also advancing others across borders.

This empowerment and equality was not confined to the U.S., in fact, there was a march / protest on every continent. This was far bigger than “liberals complaining about not getting what they want”. It was about the world coming together in response to an inferiority complex reflected onto women in all societies.

A lot of individuals displayed contempt toward the march because of certain values it represented. Many people refused to march because it supported things (i.e, abortion / planned parenthood) that they did not agree with. But I think this march was about far more than those things. This was about overall equality and fair treatment – this was about empowerment.

I am neither a staunch Republican or Democrat. I do not affiliate with a specific party nor profess preference on a lot of issues. I think that I would consider myself pro-life, but I am not sure how I feel about planned parenthood and every aspect that it provides to individuals. I don’t despise Trump, and I do not like Trump. I support equal pay, and equal treatment of women in the workplace. I believe in equal opportunity. And I believe in the empowerment of women.

Although I do not hold strong viewpoints on some issues, I decided to march. Not for a particular issue, but for the broader issue. I marched for women all over the world. I marched for peace. I marched for empowerment. I marched for myself, my sisters, my mother, my friends, and all of the women I don’t know. I marched for every woman who feels oppressed, unequally treated, or discriminated against. I marched for those who have experienced sexual assault. I marched for the women of the world.

On the issue of the march participants not welcoming pro-life women I have a few thoughts. First of all, I participated in the march as a pro-life woman, and I found common ground with all of the women at the march apart from that issue. I wish that the march was not hostile toward outwardly pro-life women; however, I do understand that the march was put on by and supported by Planned Parenthood. They, and all of their supporters, have the right to feel put off by people who disagree on such a large women’s rights issue.

I wish that people could have put specific issues to the side and marched for a bigger issue, but uneasy feelings on the specific issue is understandable. I would have liked to see women of all beliefs come together and march for empowerment and equality all around the world without being divided by the issue of abortion. And I think that time will one day come, and this march was a stepping stone toward a more equal and accepting future even between females who hold different views.

The Women’s March was the most peaceful protest I have ever experienced or even heard of.

There were all sorts of protesters at this march, not just women or even people fighting solely for women’s rights. There were men, women, and children. There were people standing up for women’s rights (and every different issue associated with such a topic), environmental action, LGBTQ equality, and other issues. It was incredible to see so many different people come together and stand up for what they believe in while rallying around the idea of women’s rights.

And this march was not a rally to show hatred toward Trump. While there was some rhetoric used opposing Trump and his new presidency, that was not the point, nor the main issue of the event. Granted, there were mostly liberals at this march, because many of the issues are more aligned with their viewpoints; however, they were not there to solely bash Trump or republicans. They were fighting policies, not a person – ideologies, not a party.

People need to learn how to empathize – how to listen to a person’s viewpoint without bashing or judging them. We are to be people who consider every side, who listen to others, and who desire understanding when it comes to someone else’s opinions. People live from experience, they believe what they believe because of their environment and experience. And you are far different than the person sitting next to you in every aspect. Reach out. Listen. Learn from others’ experiences. Research issues. Radiate love.

I think what I learned most from this experience is that this world has so much passion and so much love, and we need to focus that in the right direction in order to create good change in the world. Hate does not create long-term, positive change. It is love, empathy, and understanding that produces enduring change in the end.

Listen.

Learn.

Seek to understand.

Be the change.

Be the love.

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