For the past few days I’ve been completely inundated with media related to the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. and its sister marches in cities all over the globe.
You probably have been, too.
I’ve seen posts from march participants, from supporters of those participants, from “news” outlets framing them however they choose, and from those who oppose the marches and have spoken out against them.
Initially, I was kind of indifferent to the whole affair. I didn’t fully grasp its purpose, but I also didn’t see that it was doing anyone any harm (unlike some of the more violent, destructive protests that were televised on and around inauguration day).
However, my interest was sparked a few days ago when my girlfriend, Sarah, told me she was attending the sister march being held in Pittsburgh, PA.
I was skeptical at first, but I support 100% of what she gets up to, so I decided to take this as an opportunity to better understand the march, the perspective and goals of the marchers, as well as to try to piece together the perspective of those who oppose it.
So I interviewed her and gained some valuable insights.
At first, Sarah was skeptical, too.
Given the timing of the event, she assumed that the march might be an anti-Trump movement.
However, upon doing a little research she discovered the movement’s guiding principles, one of which being to “attack forces of evil, not persons doing evil.”
Anti-Trump signs were not condoned (though of course, many protesters brought them anyway) – instead what attracted Sarah was the idea of a pro-issues march, not an anti-issues one.
The timing of the event was a result of divisive campaign language – but this was to be a peaceful statement our new batch of elected officials that marchers sought equality for all genders, races and religions, as well as a stronger focus on issues surrounding healthcare, the environment, and immigration.
“You didn’t have to believe in everything the march stood for,” Sarah told me. If you had a stake in some of the issues, or even just one, you could go out and show support.
A day after the event, scrolling through social media and seeing criticisms from non-marchers, she found herself a little bummed that people are missing the point.
“It’s really hard to understand the ‘other side’ if you don’t really know what they stand for – and instead of finding out and learning, people take to a lot of anger and belittling what others believe in,” she said.
And just what did Sarah believe in that compelled her to march?
Among other things, she supports closing a gender-based wage gap, certain reproductive rights, environmental protection, religious freedom, acceptance of refugees, and peace.
“I get nervous about expressing my viewpoints on a lot of things because there is so much division and disagreement,” she explained. “But if I believe strongly in certain issues, I shouldn’t be afraid to voice my opinion.”
The Women’s March created a platform for her to peacefully express herself and to be a part of the action, rather than stand on the sidelines and just think about issues that were important to her.
Ultimately, Sarah was very moved and proud to be a part of the historic march.
Going in, she had certain expectations of what it would be for her and what it would accomplish personally, but she was still surprised by some aspects of the event.
“I was really surprised to see so many older men and women and families, people of all colors,” she recalled. “It was a very even distribution between all age groups, and in Pittsburgh it was basically 50/50 men and women.”
After our conversation, I still don’t think I would have marched, myself. I don’t necessarily align with most of the causes related to the movement.
What I do respect, however, is the message of peace between all human beings.
Peace is always the way to go, and I’m glad that there are so many millions willing to adopt that mantra.
Interested in the cause? There are post-march resources and actions to take part in and continue the conversation.