To my best friend,
We heard that above quote chanted a lot today.
It seems to be easiest to address these posts as if I am writing directly to someone, so in this case, as in most cases, I’m writing to you.
I participated in the Women’s March on Washington today. In the flagship city. I and about 1.1 million of my closest friends streamed into the National Mall area of Washington, DC starting early this morning — 21 January 2017.
I am noting the date because it’s important. It’ll go down in history. It already has.
I expected to be down there for a different reason this weekend. I thought I would be celebrating in the streets about the election of our first female president. History also shows us that that…didn’t happen. We got Fuhrer Cheeto Voldemort instead.
So I took to the streets for the Women’s March on Washington instead.
And oh, I wish you had been there. And the rest of our friends, scattered at marches around the world today.
I won’t say it was an easy decision to attend. It was an easy decision, morally and politically. But as a former international security student and traveler who is very aware of the dangers of large crowds and the temptations they pose for awful people wishing to do harm, I was hesitant. There was some destruction in the city yesterday during and after the inauguration itself.
But it was necessary for me to go, for a lot of reasons. Solidarity and love and protest and support. I’ve always wondered what I would do during the Civil Rights movement, and this is the time to find out. I’m finding that I’m willing to fight.
But I’m also not stupid. I had emergency contacts in place, in case things went badly. You were one of them. You — understandably — reacted emotionally to me sending instructions and requests and ways to get in touch with my dad if needed. Less-than-ideal circumstances being what they were, in an unguarded moment you asked me not to go. I was sorry, but I refused. That phone call was the first time I can remember in our two and a half year friendship where you asked me for something I was unwilling to give.
I’ve broken my own heart for you before, but I’ve never wanted to crack yours even a little.
It never for a second felt like you didn’t support my decision to go — I know you did, you do. But that didn’t stop your voice from shaking as we tried to work out details for keeping in touch where cell and internet services were going to be limited (on both our ends) while I was out in a potentially-volatile situation. And like so much else that we disagree with, we talked about it and got through it. I think I finally convinced you not to worry…that people were committed to keeping the peace and spreading love and not tainting something like this with violence.
I didn’t sleep much last night. I had never attended something of this magnitude before and that was before we even knew that the attendance at the rally and march were going to be double the estimate. I was so excited. I was going to stand up and shout myself hoarse for things I believe in.
I met up with a coworker/friend and her wider group of friends and we crowded onto the packed Metro trains and headed downtown. It took us 20 minutes just to get out of the station and once we made it out onto the street we could see waves of thousands upon thousands of people streaming toward the planned site of the rally. Just walking on the street toward the Mall was amazing; the energy of the crowd was incredible. So many hilarious and poignant signs. So many pussy hats.
We never actually made it to the official area where the rally was — there were too many people. But we got to the edge and ended up near a speaker so we could hear the speeches. Senator Kamala Harris (California represent!) and DC Mayor Muriel Bowser were among the notable speakers we listened to and cheered for. We took a break for a snack and then headed back out to find a place to wait and cheer and hang out until the march actually started.
Turns out, the march didn’t really happen the way it was supposed to either. There were so many people that the police escort and march organisers couldn’t get through to start the march officially…so people just started walking up the street themselves toward the White House. It soon became a flood. I’m not sure where the start of the march was actually supposed to be; we joined in with the very-slow-moving crowd right in front of the Washington Monument. (What a photo op that was!)
It was a mile to the White House by the pre-arranged route, but since the entire area was blocked off, people just poured off the street into the Mall and toward the South Lawn. 550,000 men, women, and children of all shapes, sizes, colours, creeds, orientations…all walking and singing and chanting and holding signs and generally being nice to each other. All walking toward a symbol of our nation, which is officially occupied by a racist, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic narcissist. (Although, fun fact: he apparently didn’t actually stay at the White House today. Rumour has it he went to church in the city this morning then went back to New York. He hadn’t even started working. The derisive joke around the rally was that he needed to take the weekend off before starting his new job on Monday.)
But can you imagine it — you look out on the first day in your new home and see hundreds of thousands of people coming for you. All of whom you have insulted and belittled for two years and who abhor the idea that you are the President of their country. People spent their hard-earned money to fly thousands of miles from across the country to tell you that you are not legitimate, that they will not allow you to go unchecked.
I hope he was as afraid today as we have been and will continue to be for the duration of his presidency. I hope he realised what he has done. I hope they all realise what they have done, what they have awakened around the world.
Because this was a truly global event. From Los Angeles (my sister was at that one) to New York to Houston to Chicago; from South Africa to Norway to Japan to England. Even Antarctica. And Moscow, where they had to stroll casually and look over their shoulders the whole time in case they got arrested for demonstrating. All seven continents were represented.
People were there for more reasons than could be counted, but the common thread was that we were all standing up for something good in the world. Women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, Black and other minority rights, religious rights, environmental rights…you name it, people were there to support it and make their voices heard. Things we shouldn’t have to ask for, much less protest for and fight to protect, in 2017. But here we are.
Here. We. Are. Hear us. And while we fight and yell, we will not allow the hate Fuhrer Cheeto Voldemort and his minions spew to be normalised.
One of my favourite sights today was an older lady holding up a sign that said, “I can’t believe I’m still protesting this fucking shit”.
I wanted to bottle the energy and keep it for when it feels like the world doesn’t care. Because the atmosphere was amazing, infectious. No violence, just love. I’m writing this to you now — to the world — because I want to hold on to this feeling from today. We were invincible today. And everyday.
The light side of the Force was (is) strong with us.
All my love,
Your favourite Nasty Woman