Next Friday, I’ll be packing up my car with picket signs and heading south to D.C. where nearly 200,000 women and other human rights activists will be gathering for the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday, January 21st.
A historical event meant to send a message to the incoming Trump administration that the rights of the marginalized cannot be ignored, the Women’s March on Washington (which welcomes men, too) is expected to be the largest post-inauguration march in history.
So why am I spending my weekend driving over 400 miles down the coast to march for several hours in the freezing cold?
Because I can’t afford not to, because my life, my liberty, and my pursuit of happiness and equality depends on it.
It started as a Facebook page launched in the hours following Donald Trump’s election in November, and since then, the Women’s March on Washington has grown into a national — even global — movement. It not only challenges the new administration, but rejects the administration’s dangerous and hateful rhetoric that began during the election and has continued into the new year.
While a major cornerstone of this movement is the protection of women’s rights, the Women’s March, despite its name, is not all about female equality. The wholly inclusive march, which continues to get bigger every day, is a joint effort between dozens of partner advocacy groups and resistance movements, including those fighting for civil rights, LGBTQIA rights, worker’s rights, immigrant rights, and environmental protection.
In just a few short days, hundreds of thousands of activists, politicians, celebrities, and everyday people will descend on Washington, D.C. to make their voices unequivocally heard, and I am proud to say I will be one of them.
1To show solidarity for all women.
The Women’s March on Washington has opened up a contentious but vital conversation about race and feminism — one that, as a white, middle class woman, makes me feel guilty, uncomfortable, and ashamed. November’s election results sent shockwaves through our country, and white women like me cried out, sobbed, and started truly fearing for our future in a new way.
But so many other marginalized groups — minorities and people of color, people with diverse religious faiths, the LGBTQIA community, people with disabilities, Native people — have spent most of their lives in fear of hate, violence, and discrimination.
Because women of every color, religion, economic status, health, and background deserve equal rights, and because I’ve spent too much time focusing on my own equality, I’m marching on Washington to show solidarity for all women.
2To protect my body and my health.
Donald Trump hasn’t even taken office yet, but Republicans are already hard at work dismantling our country’s healthcare system. The incoming president and his party has made it clear that they want to defund Planned Parenthood, a vital and at times life-saving women’s healthcare organization (that DOES NOT use its federal funding for abortion services, I might add). They also want to rollback reproductive rights by repealing Roe v. Wade.
Because I, and every American, deserves access to affordable healthcare, I’m marching on Washington to make it known that I refuse to let my health became a political pawn. And because I, as a woman, refuse to watch 5,000 women a year die from illegal abortions, I’m marching in D.C. to protect the rights and the lives of women who should be the only ones in control of their own bodies and choices.
3To stand up for sexual assault victims and against those who commit violence against women.
As a victim of sexual assault, this past election cycle was traumatic for me. Watching a man who brags about sexually assaulting women be elected into the highest office in the nation not only appalled and disgusted me, but terrified me to my core.
Because I refuse to let rape culture be the norm, because I reject the normalization of sexual assault and violence against women, I’m marching on Washington on behalf of myself and the millions of other survivors who deserve to be protected.
4To help build a better future for myself and my family.
I’m almost 27, and while that sometimes makes me feel ancient, the truth is that my life is just beginning. Is this what I want it to look like? Is this what I want my 7-year-old niece’s life or my 11-year-old nephew’s future to look like?
Because I want to live in a world where I don’t have to fear threats of sexual violence, where I have access to healthcare, where I am guaranteed equal pay, and because I want my niece to have all of these opportunities and I want my nephew to support them, I’m marching on D.C. with thousands of other sisters, mothers, and aunts who refuse to let the future look like the past.
5To show, without a doubt, that women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights.
This is perhaps the simplest and most obvious reason: I’m joining the Women’s March on Washington because, once and for all, it’s time we make it clear that women are humans. No matter what we look like, how old we are, where we’re from, who we love, or who we pray to, we deserve equality.
I’m marching because I care about the future of my country, and because I demand to have a say in what that future looks like.
Will you be in Washington D.C. or one of the over 280 sister marches being held across the country on January 21st? Make sure you share #WhyIMarch on Twitter, and go to the Women’s March website to donate to the cause. If you aren’t able to attend, check out some ways to make sure your voice is still heard.