Note: This post is a contribution in response to the Boston Women’s March.
On Friday, January 20, 2017, I arrived at my gynecologist’s office to get my first intrauterine device (IUD). After sitting on the idea of getting an IUD for years, the inauguration of Donald J. Trump inspired me to act. Though I could have chosen the previous week to have the procedure, the options were not optimal: Friday the 13th or Inauguration Day. Though I am not superstitious, one felt like a bad idea, while the other felt like an act of personal protest. So I chose Inauguration Day. I acted out of fear, out of love, and out of protest: fear that my health care could soon deny me affordable access to birth control; love for my body and its safety; and protest to the tyranny of a man and his followers telling me what I could and couldn’t do with my body.
I know my privilege – I could still access birth control even if it weren’t covered by my insurance plan. While I do not take that for granted, this is not solely about me. So many of my friends and acquaintances who need birth control – to prevent pregnancies, painful periods, acne, life threatening ovarian cysts, et cetera – cannot pay out of pocket for the pill. And so even if I can pay for it, without healthcare coverage, those I care about may not.
So I arrived at my gynecologist’s office, ready and nervous and exhilarated to get my IUD. I embraced my womanhood, and I embraced the cause of speaking up for women who want nothing more than to protect themselves from not only unwanted pregnancies, but an array of health problems. On January 20, 2017, after hearing Donald Trump’s swearing in, I participated in my own form of personal protest and felt my conviction, and my protection, fastened to me, body and spirit. Then I protested publicly.
On Saturday, January 21, I joined my fellow Bostonians in peaceful protest for a woman’s right to be heard and respected. The movement became so many things to so many people. I saw signs protesting everything from Standing Rock to LGBTQIA oppression, from Trump’s pussy grabbing statements to the Alt Right (a personal favorite of mine, the sign reading Alt + Right + Delete). Carrie Fisher’s eyes gazing out over the top of a poster reading “history has its eyes on you” unintentionally merged the power of Star Wars and Hamilton, giving a chilling yet awe-inspiring pop-culture twist to the proceedings. The common theme of these signs was not hate or prejudice. It was strength, optimism, and a demand for autonomy. It was a plea to the powerful to listen to those they serve—the men and women and everyone in between who comprise the People of the United States.
Listening to NPR that day (a journalistic organization now under threat of losing valuable and necessary federal funding), I heard a Trump supporter talking about the Women’s Marches. He made a cutting, misguided, but thought-provoking remark: if we as protesters had put this much effort behind Hillary Clinton, she could have been sworn in on Inauguration Day. It is my belief, based on Clinton’s winning the popular vote by approximately three million votes more than Trump, and on the role of the electoral college, that the people’s will was ignored, and Clinton should have taken her place as president as the most experienced politician in US history.
But that is past. This is present. The Women’s Marches around the world, from Washington, D.C. to Antarctica, show the positive thinking and strength of coming together as a powerful force for change. Though some may call the Marches one grand gesture for the Millennials to post on their Facebook profiles, the sheer magnitude of the crowds and the range of ages, ethnicities, and orientations make it more than a trend, a blip on someone’s timeline. The original march, organized by Tamika D Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Linda Sarsour, three courageous women of color, was not focused on a one-time hit. The Women’s March website has already published a list of 10 Actions for the First 100 Days, a continuation of the movement to keep the momentum going (see also Non-Fiction Feminism’s post about our Next Steps). Publicly, the size and diversity of the crowds convinced me of the people’s commitment. Personally, the knowledge that my mother and stepfather marched in Chicago that day, spiritually walking alongside me to protest the new president, convinced me even further.
On Sunday, January 22, the 44th anniversary of Roe v. Wade reminded the nation of how relatively recent it is for a woman to legally access abortion in the US. The ruling has been a source of debate for decades, but is taking on an even larger role in discussions of national policy since the Trump-Pence administration took power. So in these three days, from January 20 to 22, I showed personal, public, and historic pride in my gender and its significance in our society. I proved to myself that my voice is strong and loud, and as I roared my worth, I heard the roar of others joining me, from my parents, my relatives, my friends, and fellow feminists of all genders. Amazing things happen when we support each other, and the marches that took place over all seven continents show that.
But On Monday, January 23, 2017, while reading the news after work, I discovered that President Trump has already laid out an executive order to ban government funding for international organizations that provide abortions or information pertaining to them, whether those monies are directly funneled to abortion procedures or not. The surrounding politicians in the Oval Office were white and male, demonstrating that a small subset of our population is making choices that do not affect them, not having female reproductive organs or enough melanin to have experienced what non-female and/or non-white citizens struggle through daily. Following the trend, the CNN panel set up to discuss the significance of the Women’s March was comprised of one woman and eight men, a ratio that would be more logical and meaningful if reversed.
So, on Monday, January 23, 2017, I grew angry, fearful, and determined. I donated to Planned Parenthood and made a promise to myself that I will continue to fight for equal treatment. The work did not stop when I got my IUD, when I marched with the feminists of Boston, when I celebrated Roe v. Wade. And as my mother pointed out, this is unfortunately nothing new. The work was there for her decades ago, and now it is here for me, too. And just like her, I will not back down.
Laying on the exam table that Friday, my legs in stirrups, my doctor preparing her instruments, she asked if I was going to the Women’s March in Boston the following day. I gave a resounding ‘yes,’ and told her my parents were marching too, my mom having knitted her own pussy hat. She smiled in approval and told me, proudly, that she and her husband were taking their young daughter to march and participate in the protest. “I want her to know how important this time is, how important the work is,” she told me. I could not agree more.
This is a contributed post submitted to Non-Fiction Feminism by the author and represents the author’s opinion. If you are interested in sharing your own stories or perspectives, please contact us.