Last weekend, women across America joined with their fellow activists to participate in the third annual Women’s March. When I first heard about the march when one of my Facebook friends claimed interest in the event, I was excited — to say the least. I was going to have the cleverest sign and wear my bright pink rain coat that would be perfect for a feminist event. But as I wrote “Fight like a girl” on my shirt the morning of the march, I thought, what does it actually mean to fight like a girl? What are we fighting for?
I thought of my mom who looked left and right in her meetings as an executive for a fortune 500 company and commonly only saw white men. I thought of my female college friends who get cat-called on the street like they are animals that need to be herded in. I thought of my grandmothers who proved society wrong when they decided being a housewife was just not enough. I thought of myself.
When I get a “real” job after graduation and work myself tirelessly each day to perform my best, will I earn the same salary as my male counterparts? Will I get promoted when my boss sees my hard work, and also look left and right to see only white men in the conference room? Will I fear sexual assault when I have one-on-one meetings with male co-workers? Will I feel that my government represents me to its full potential? Will I ever see a woman as president? Will I ever feel that my sex does not apply barriers to this difficult enough life? Maybe.
Saturday’s march gave me some hope. Kentucky State Representative Attica Scott reminded us that when we speak up and get votes for women in any position of the government, we are claiming our right to be heard. She said “Those men won’t know what to do with us.” I thought to myself: good, because those men will learn. When we have representation we take equal rights into our own hands, and make a difference for the betterment of society as a collective — without disregard for any human being.
Activist for the bail project, Shameka L. Parrish-Wright, reminded us of the lack of justice for women. She used Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s careful words, “The time is now.” She said, “If we as women don’t lift up and include one another, who will? The time is now.” She talked about her own story of being incarcerated for domestic violence when she finally fought her fiancé back. She said it would be quicker to get released if she accepted the charges and pled guilty, so she gave up the fight so she could return to her three-year-old daughter as fast as possible. She reminded us of Kentucky’s obtuse mass-incarceration problem that leaves far too many women with orphaned children and no way to fight or have a chance at making something of themselves. Most of all, she reminded us to use our voices while we have the chance. The time is now.
Mizari Suárez reminded us to fight to represent more than just Americans. As an immigrant woman, she voiced her frustration with the lack of representation of her community in the government. She promised the crowd, that listened so intently through the pouring rain, that she would run for office the moment she becomes a citizen of the United States. She inspired us to be the change we wish to see in the world no matter the obstacle.
A folk singer from rural Kentucky, Carla Gover, warned the crowd of the dangers of women storming about in her ironic song. She laughed at men for fearing our high heels approaching. Through her complex teasing, she urged us to consider our oppressors. They fear the possibility of our majority and especially if we gain power with that majority. They fear change and lack of control. We need to guide them and reach out to say that we are nothing to fear; but we are people to acknowledge because we have something to say.
Others spoke to excite the crowd for the march and then we took to the streets. We waved see you soon to the courthouse, and we took our signs and voices with us to show the people of Lexington our stories. I felt proud to be a woman as we shamelessly took back our right to belong and have a say. In that moment I knew that we shall overcome with time and energy, and, hopefully in my lifetime, we will see the change. Camaraderie is key in a world indifferent to our struggle. If the march opened just one person’s blind eyes, it was all worth standing in the rain for my sisters.
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