When I first got wind of the Women’s March on Washington I thought it might be a positive, healthy outlet for me. I’ve been disgusted by the language used as our president-elect campaigned for what ironically has been called the bully pulpit. I’ve been heart broken by the sexual violence suffered by some of the women I love. I’ve been outraged by the inequities within our criminal justice system. I’ve felt fear for marginalized groups of people in our society.
My initial impression of the march was that women and men were coming together to protest disrespect shown toward women and others who feel marginalized. I can say YES to that!
I wanted to believe that all the sad divisiveness of the past year had risen up a movement to bring women of different backgrounds, political beliefs and faiths together, with common goals of respect, peace, dignity and a desire to build bridges.
My daughter and some of her friends plan to march and I was thrilled that they have this forum to display their power as women and voice their right to respect. “Why not me?”, I thought, “I need an outlet too and I want to show solidarity”. However, as a 58 year old woman I’m sorely aware that for decades, major women’s groups have a track record of speaking on behalf of all women with the arrogant assumption that all women have the exact same beliefs.
The Women’s March on Washington is billed as a march for all women no matter who you voted for, no matter your color, no matter your religion…no matter.
So I got on the website for the Women’s March and read the organizers “Unity Principles” and realized, sadly, this is not a march for ALL women. There is one “matter”. I am a Pro Life woman and there is no room in these “unity principles” for respecting my right to my values. My Civil Rights (as written in these principles), including “freedom to worship without fear…freedom of speech…protections for all citizens regardless of race, gender, age or disability” have a proviso: rights and respect don’t apply to women like me – women who don’t want their government involved in “affordable abortion”.
I’m wondering how this jives with the Catholic immigrant women, the Muslim women and the black Christian women this march purports to be standing up for?
No wonder our public discourse has become so angry, rude and contemptuous. The very citizens who organize a march that ostensibly has a mission and vision to “stand together…recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country,” isn’t really open to the diversity of women’s beliefs.
The mission to “stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us” falls flat to me when “all” is not “all”.
Can’t we listen to President Obama this once? “Understand, democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders argued. They quarreled. Eventually they compromised. They expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity — the idea that for all our outward differences, we’re all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.”
I long for women to accept that we are not all alike in every value and opinion but we do need to have “a basic sense of solidarity”. We are all in this together. We will rise or fall as one.
I did not want to march for policies or politics. I wanted to march for human dignity and solidarity. But with the agenda set out by these organizers, if I still march I’ll be marching with a sign that says:
RESPECT FOR ALL WOMAN