Why I March by Amanda B. Buchholz ..
On January 21, I will join hundreds of thousands of other activists for the Women’s March on Washington at one of its 280 sister marches being held across the country and around the globe in an historic effort to speak our collective voice to power. I’ll be rallying in Kansas City, during which time we will express our collective platform with the newly-elected Trump administration, the new Congress and our state and local governments. Our goals are to retain—and expand upon—existing limited rights for women, racial, ethnic and religious minorities and immigrants, and the LGBTQIA community; along with bringing attention to the fact that we’ve still got a very long way to go before we reach full constitutional, social, economic, and legal equality for each of these groups. While I’m encouraged by the sheer number of marches and rallies taking place, as we feminists are known to say, I can’t believe we’re still protesting this shit.
It’s difficult for me to comprehend that at 37 and in 2017 I’m preparing to march at an event like this. I always assumed that the closest I would ever come to such an assembly would be from re-watching old footage from the 1960s and 70s, like that which is contained in nearly every documentary covering the politics of the time, wherein a sunglasses-clad Gloria Steinem leads women through the streets carrying signs calling for “EQUALITY NOW” and affirming “ERA YES.” I long took for granted the notion that the rights earned American women by the hard work of the Second Wave have simply remained because they were once established. Unfortunately, it appears that too many of us were under this impression, because we are now at great risk of losing them. I now realize that there have been people consistently and tirelessly working in the political, educational, and social background as the rest of us have navigated through our daily lives, so that we can continue to enjoy these incremental freedoms.
And while I deeply believe in the imperatives of equality and social justice, I must confess that my motives for ensuring these rights, now, have become a bit more selfish than that. You see, I have a tween-aged niece who I love so dearly. She is intelligent and bold, curious and kind, funny and thoughtful, creative and generous. In a few years, which will undoubtedly come much quicker than I and her parents can prepare for, she’ll be off to college. When that time comes, I want to know that the administration of whichever institution she selects will take very seriously their responsibility to provide a safe campus environment for all students. At that time, I want our society to look back with great regret that we ever allowed the sexual assault of women to reach the statistical point that it has today, in that 1 in 5 women are raped by the time they leave college. I want to know that wherever she is at, then, she’ll be free to focus on her educational goals, deepening her understanding of the world around her, forming new friendships and connections with others without the fear that so many of us women have had to endure of simply keeping our personhoods safe.
When she leaves college to embark on her career I certainly expect that she’ll encounter many of the same struggles that all of us—men and women—have had to encounter: a challenging boss, an inefficient coworker, less-than stimulating project assignments. These are all experiences which will help her to gain perspective in her work and allow her the ability to grow professionally and personally; these are some of the experiences that will help her to determine where she is and where she wants to go. However, challenges she, nor any woman, should ever have to face are those which occur simply because they are women. I want to know that whichever field she chooses to pursue, she will be treated with the same opportunities, respect and salary as the men who work beside her; and should she not, I want to ensure the law is and will forever be on her side.
If she should choose to marry, no matter who her spouse is or what they look like, I want her to be confident that they each will enjoy every freedom that our Constitution currently provides to every “man.” I want her to be safe in the knowledge that through recognizing equality, there is recognition of every individual’s intrinsic value. That no gender, nor race, nor ethnicity or otherwise must succumb to certain traditional mentalities which have only perpetuated the superficial minimization of entire groups of people.
If during anytime in her journey she decides that she does or does not want to have children, I want to be confident that our laws will support her right to make that decision for herself. I want to know that our laws will recognize her and every woman’s innate authority over their own personhood, and will protect their interest in reproductive justice.
And one day, when she’s 37, I want her to be able to look back on what she has accomplished, thus far, and be proud. Then, I want her to be able to look forward to her future with great optimism for what lies ahead. A future in which anything is possible for her as a woman in America. An America which values every American and the positive contributions that she or he makes.
Perhaps these are rather ambitious goals. Perhaps they are not. What I do know for certain is that in order for any society to truly flourish, to reach its absolute best, all of its members must be allowed the opportunity to flourish themselves. And this assuredly cannot occur without true and unequivocal equality.
Amanda B. Buchholz writes from Kansas City, Missouri and is a member of Missouri-NOW. Her work has appeared in The Call. A native Kansan who has called the Missouri side home for more than a decade, she is an advocate for social justice and still believes that each person has the capacity to change the world. You can follow her blog State Line Road at www.amandabuchholz.com